Heather Valley confronts her demons in the haunting single and video Heather — premiering exclusively on Tinnitist.
The feature track from the Ontario singer-songwriter’s debut EP Trauma Bonding, Heather is an unbelievable and harrowing story of obsession, duplicity and betrayal whose stark setting and sonics are every bit as raw as the emotions behind them.
“Like every good story, this one starts with a broken heart,” Valley says. “What sets it apart is that it also involves a con man, a demon, and an imposter who took my place.”
Valley was a lawyer with a promising future when the con man found her. They met for a week in a haunted cabin in upstate New York and made plans to be together, but when he went back to Florida, everything went wrong. “A sudden admission of addiction, an intervention, committals to rehab and an escape, family stress — you name it, we faced it. He swore he was faithful and said that the demon from the cabin had attached itself to him.”
It wasn’t until he was arrested at the border months later that the depth of his deception became apparent. “He was carrying on multiple lives. He found another woman with my name who looked like me to take my place in case I caught on.” He went to jail but he came back swearing what they had was real. He flew her down to Florida for a week where they were engaged but shortly after the deception began again. “So I left him. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I couldn’t tell fact from fiction and he lied with a straight face. I was questioning everything.”
But he wouldn’t leave her alone. Within eight months she had a nervous breakdown and he was arrested again. She turned to music to heal. “I lost everything but he still wouldn’t let me be. I got letters from jail until I moved, then calls when he was switched facilities, and when he was released this year he assailed me every way he could, swearing his eternal love.”
After an unspeakable tragedy this summer, she finally responded. It was the first time in two years. “He told me he loved me, swore there was no one else, asked me to see him and then ghosted. He had rekindled a romance with the other Heather. He was messaging us both at the same time.”
Valley had been working on her record for a year when the final chapter of the sordid tale came about. “I needed to exorcise these recent events. I went to a friend’s farmhouse and recorded the EP myself in the upstairs hallway. Just two takes of each song, front to back. Honesty over perfection in homage to my influences, including early Jason Molina, Mount Eerie and Julie Doiron.”
Trauma Bonding is a feature of abusive relationships — the abuser intentionally causes the victim pain and manufactures intimacy as they struggle to get through it. “It seemed fitting.” The feature track Heather speaks to the other two points in the triangle — the first half to him, the second half to her. “This isn’t just a breakup album,” Valley explains. “This EP asks who the real demons are.”
The Trauma Bonding EP is available digitally and on streaming sites. Heather Valley’s debut record Desert Message will be available in November 2019.
October 4 in Paris, Ontario (Paris Surf)
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November 22 in Toronto, Ontario (Painted Lady)
November 24 in Hamilton, Ontario (The Casbah)