HeatherBerney

The Betties’ Heather Berney | Aperture Needle

by Eric Gonzalez

Aperture Needle exposes what lies beneath artists' skin. This week's subject is musician Heather Berney, guitarist/vocalist for Lincoln country band The Betties.
 
EG: Sometimes, we purposely get things we eventually come to regret. In most cases, we can return them, exchange them, or give them away, but that's not always the case. When I approached you with the intention of having you be the next artist to feature on Aperture Needle, you were a bit hesitant to do so because you felt that your one tattoo wasn't interesting enough. Why is that?
 
HB: I do not regret getting a tattoo eight years ago. I kind of forget that it's there. I was 19. I wanted a tattoo (or maybe I wanted to be the kind of person that would have a tattoo). I drew it myself. I liked the idea that no one in the world would have one like it. I'm a girl, and the tattoo is of a flower. I guess it was important that it be feminine. I'm honestly glad I didn't get anything deeply political. Ideas change. 
 
The Betties' Heather J. Berney
EG: I guess I kind of thought you didn't like the tattoo.
 
HB: I can see how you got that impression — it was warranted. I just don't really shout it from the rooftops.
 
EG: Ideas for your next tattoo?
 
HB: I think I have some ridiculous ideas, and I suppose that's why I've never followed through with one of them. Any idea I've come up with in the last few years that I got kind of excited about was a textual tattoo. I wanted the words "Peace is the way" tattooed on my foot. The way? On my foot? Get it? I remember asking Zainab, a woman that I worked with, to write it in Arabic. I carried that around for a few months. Couldn't commit. The other idea was to get this loooonnng Tolstoy quote on my back. Go big or go home. 
 
EG: Do you have a certain style you're going for and have you identified a certain tattoo artist for the job? 
 
HB: If I ever get another tattoo, my buddy Zac Rice will do it. That kid's a stud. Also, I trust him with my life. As far as a style is concerned, I have no idea. I play around with my look. It's hard to imagine a tattoo that would fit with all my style dabblings throughout the years. 
 
The Betties' Heather J. Berney
 
EG: Describe The Betties' sound.
 
HB: I love this question. We play old-timey country music. I write songs that fit right in with a thousand other songs, and I'm proud of that. People try to call it alternative country or folk rock or some nonsense, but we play country music. Unabashedly. 
 
EG: Define what influenced you and your approach to songwriting.
 
HB: I have been writing music for years. Probably 12 years. The 12 or so originals that I've written in the last few months are the first ones I have ever liked. I always knew there was a songwriter in me somewhere. I think I was always caught up with the idea of coming up with a new sound. I grew up listening to country music, and eventually decided to embrace what I know. It sounds cheesy, but I think about my grandpa. I try to write stuff that he would've liked. Grandma, too. The last time I talked to her, she asked if her album was ready. That makes me happy. I try not to write anything too racy or profane. It's not about that. 
 
I think I have somewhat of a light-hearted attitude about my songwriting. Sometimes the songs are about deep emotions, but some of them are just for fun. In a lot of cases, I don't take death and heartache very seriously. In others, I've heard I bring people to tears. 
 
I know that when I play a show and look into the crowd, I'll see a pretty girl with her head on her boyfriend's shoulder. She looks at peace. I guess that's kind of what I'm going for. 

The Betties' Heather J. Berney

EG: In an earlier conversation, you mentioned going home as being a "refreshing experience." How often do you go back home and is this thought of you hitting a "reset button" have any influence on what you write about in your lyrics?
 
HB: I would absolutely in no way be able to write how I do without home. My hometown is called Wolbach, and it's about two-and-a-half hours west. Nature has something to do with it, I suppose. I can picture the cornfields and rolling hills perfectly. Also, how dark it gets at night inspires me. It's never dark in the city.
 
Another influence is my family. Sometimes I go home, and we move the coffee table out of the way, and my little sister and I country swing on the living room floor. Then Mom and Kenna (little sister) and I grab our guitars and jam for a while. It's kind of a party. I write songs that people in Wolbach will like. 
 
EG: Will we be able to stream The Betties anytime soon?
 
HB: Yes! Kind of. We finally have a group of people together that I feel great about. After a couple more rehearsals and a couple more shows, we'll be back in the studio. I'd wager we'll get an album out come summertime. I will keep you posted. 
 
The Betties' Heather J. Berney
 
PSA:
The Betties next show is March 3 at the Zoo Bar. We play with the Matt Cox Band. He is fricken great. 
After that, we play March 6 at Duffy's along with All Young Girls Are Machine Guns, South of Lincoln, and Manny Coon. So exciting. We expect more upward movement. This is so fun.
 
Suggest subjects for Aperture Needle by emailing eric.g.alfaro@gmail.com.

 

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