Jodi Heights Sends Out a Call to Wandering Souls With “Lone Wolf”

Interview with Jodi Heights

Being in tune with the darker sides of ourselves isn’t always something to be afraid of. Classically trained artist Jodi Heights believes embracing our habits entwined with everything revolving around the nighttime is a tool for reflection and growth. Her upcoming album Nocturne, featuring her latest single “Lone Wolf” is a comprehensive catalog of all the night has to offer. “Lone Wolf,” being the album’s first single, sets up the narrative of a solitary figure longing to find compassion and acceptance within a community-something so many listeners can understand. The song’s classical strings and piano enhance Heights’s rapturous voice inviting audiences to relinquish themselves to the whimsical melodies. The single is also utilizing Dolby Atmos which cultivates a more spatial experience audibly, allowing listeners to hear the entrancing song all around them. This dazzling effect captures the enveloping nature of night, as its beauty surrounds all of us and dares us to notice just how much can appear in the dark. 

Credit: Jodi Heights

Q. “Lone Wolf,” is a melodic epic that harbors the essence of a transcending Broadway ballad. Are you a musical theater fan and was this sound what you were aiming for with this track? 

A. I’m definitely a musical theater fan, although my training is primarily in classical music. I didn’t set out to make “Lone Wolf” sound like a Broadway ballad, but a lot of my songs have theatrical or cinematic flair. It’s probably because my voice has some of that “legit” Broadway color, and I emphasize enunciation and poetic lyric writing which are characteristics that are valued in musicals. I think my music would be a good listening choice for Broadway lovers.


Q. Talk about how the choice to release “Lone Wolf” in Dolby Atmos enhances the soundscape and myriad of layers featured in the song.

A. “Lone Wolf” is the first single off of my night-themed album, Nocturne, and the most important thing for me on this project was creating the right atmosphere. My engineer, John Weston, did an incredible job setting the mood when I recorded the vocals by lighting the studio with lots of blues and greys so I felt like I was singing outside in the dark. It was magical. He was also the one who suggested creating an immersive mix for all the tracks, and I think it captures the different quality that life takes on in the dark. We reflect on things more deeply and speak with more vulnerability when the lights are off. To hear the music surrounding you from all sides, especially when it’s the howls of a wolf pack, seems perfect.


Q. The piano featured in “Lone Wolf” is nothing short of majestic. How did you go about composing this instrumental and marrying it to the string quartet arranged by Cairo Marques-Neto?

A. Everything I write instrumentally is in service to supporting my voice and conveying the message of the song. I have to give Cairo the credit for making the strings compliment the piano so beautifully. I’m used to playing shows all by myself, so I don’t always leave much room for other instruments. I really forced myself to create space during the piano recording. I was playing on a gorgeous 9-foot Steinway, which has such a rich sound on its own I could let it ring without as much temptation to fill in the gaps. I wanted the strings to sound like the wolf pack calling the listener home. The string players are all incredible musicians. We had Nicole Parks and Amy Sims on the violins Christopher Nunn on the viola, and Nicholas Johnson on the cello.


Q. The wolf imagery is integral to the track yet it subverts expectations, utilizing the solitary wolf figure as a symbol of isolation rather than independence which it is often associated with. Talk more about your adoration of wolves and how lesser-known intricacies of the animal influenced this song. 

A. Humans have created a lot of misinformation about wolves. In literature and art, we use the term “lone wolf” to stand for someone strong enough to leave the pack and strike out alone. But the reality in a wolf pack is much different. Wolves are unquestionably social creatures. Being part of a pack creates safety. Solitary wolves do exist, but only for temporary, transitional periods of time: to find a mate, to establish their own territory, to join or form a new pack, or because they’ve been exiled. If a wolf is alone for too long, survival becomes much more difficult. Because of this, I use the lone wolf as a metaphor for people you love who are isolating themselves. Maybe they’re grieving or recovering from a physical injury or suffering from a mental illness. Recovery is easier when we have a pack to help us find our way. “Lone Wolf” also gave me a legitimate reason to sing long, mournful howls calling the listener home. It’s one of my favorite parts of the song.


Q. Your upcoming album Nocturne reveals your attraction to nighttime and the dark. What are some other attributes of the album that relate to these fixations? 

A. I’ve always been a night owl, so writing and recording a whole project centered around loving the dark seemed natural to me. Nocturne will be my most cohesive project, to date, and it’s an invitation to fall in love with night. Darkness is part of the natural cycle of our planet, but it’s often associated with negative things like evil, fear of the unknown, danger, death, and the unconscious parts of ourselves. But night has important lessons to teach us: how to dream, how to listen, and how to see the world with new eyes. Each of the songs I’ve written explores a different facet of darkness. I hope the album will inspire people to examine their relationship with night and spend more intentional time in the dark.


Q. Coinciding with “Lone Wolf,” you’ve created the 60-page Nocturnal Journal. What was the idea behind the conception of this book?

A. In preparation for creating the album, I read a lot of books about night. For a long time, I’ve been wanting to create a stand-alone merchandise item that was more in-depth than the typical t-shirt or poster. I love journaling, so I came up with the idea for a prompted journal to raise people’s night consciousness. I created a variety of thought-provoking prompts aimed at personal introspection on nocturnal experiences. The journal travels from dusk, through the darkest part of night, to dawn. Delving into themes of darkness and the impacts of light pollution, the journal offers a space for writers to explore their relationship with darkness. I adore the album artwork that was created by Catrin Welz-Stein for Nocturne, so I asked my graphic designer, Sylvia Haber, if she could adapt it for the journal cover and also create 10 pieces of art, based on my lyrics, to sprinkle throughout the book. I was blown away by what she came back with. The journal also includes a link to listen to the Nocturne album, and since not all the songs are officially released on streaming, for the next few months that will give journal users exclusive access to the music. I’m deeply proud of how beautifully the book turned out and I can’t wait to share it with everyone!