Even in a world as full of uncertainty as the current one, indie rocker Heather Reid of the Murmurs fame is noticeably optimistic. “If I’m going to be on this earth, I am going to find the light and I want to have the best time being here,” she says over Zoom on a sunny morning.
Two years after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, Reid has moved from Los Angeles to Bend, Ore., where she surrounds herself with the things that heal her — the music of Stevie Wonder and Tina Turner, being in nature, meditation, and her family. She also doesn’t stop moving forward.
“I want to get this work done,” she says with a light in her eyes. “I think as an artist, if you don’t do it, if you don’t create, nothing happens. I mean, you’re the driver of your own story. So I want to be a good driver and get it done.” Not even a life-threatening illness, chemotherapy, radiation, and a bone marrow transplant could bring her down. “Even in the darkest moments [my wife, Allison, and I] still giggled at things that would go on around us, we really did,” she says.
“I think when you make a decision and you want to be here, you should try to have the best life that you can possibly have” It seems like a pie-in-the-sky idea, but Reid isn’t naive about her philosophy. “I’ve been called a Pollyanna in the past, but it’s just who I am. It’s how I was born,” she says. “I always say, in your darkest moments, just take a breath and love yourself.
That’s the message she wants to spread with her latest song, “Right Here Right Now.” Even while going through the cancer and treatment, she says she knew it wasn’t her last chapter. “I had to dig deep inside and find the light inside of me when it started to dim,” she smiles. “It’s like, ‘Sorry, you can’t get rid of me that quickly!’”
Most people in her shoes would slow down or take a break, but Reid doesn’t want to get complacent. “I don’t want to look back and go, ‘Oh, my gosh, I had all that time to get all that work done and I didn’t do it,’” she says. So she and her writing partner are currently working on a musical called Tinseltown about being closeted in ’50s and ’60s Hollywood and all the cover-ups, scandals, and secrets that come with that. It’s been a bit of an adjustment working through quarantine, but Reid is, again, unfailingly optimistic. “I’ve got my portable situation going [here in Bend],” she says. “I’ve got my mini keyboard and my little Duet digital workstation here. I’ll do Zoom calls, phone calls, and just hold myself accountable.”
Reid says that even though she’s writing in a new genre, she never strays too far from her Murmurs days. “The truth is, I’ve always just written from my heart,” she says. “I’ve just always had that storytelling, pop sensibility, and it just comes out whether I’m writing a pop song, a rock song, or a musical theater song.”
But that’s not all she has to say about her old band.
“Leisha [Hailey, her former bandmate] and I are constantly talking about a reunion for the Murmurs, and going back and forth at the setlist, which we laugh about, because we have two different ideas of what the setlist is,” she jokes. “I’m nostalgic: ‘Oh, remember the harmonies?’ And she wants to rock out!” Fans will have to be patient, though; this won’t be a virtual reunion. “It has to be post-COVID,” Reid insists.
Until she gets to that post-COVID world, she’s going to keep on looking for that light. “Remember to love yourself,” Reid says. “Remember that if you love yourself, you can turn that light on inside.”
Watch the video for Reid's recent song "Right Here Right Now" below.