Imogen Heap has decided to take her time with her fourth album -- in fact, the U.K. singer-songwriter will only have one-third of a new full-length completed in a year's time.
The lengthy recording process is part of Heap's radical plan to issue one new song every three months, beginning tonight (Mar. 28) with the release of the fan-inspired track, "Lifeline." After roughly three months, Heap will compile the new tracks into a physical follow-up to 2009's "Ellipse," which has sold 161,000 copies according to Nielsen SoundScan.
Heap, the former singer of Frou Frou who was nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy award in 2007, tells Billboard.com that she was unhappy with the painstaking process of creating a cohesive album in one burst. "For two years, I'm doing nothing but thinking about the album, and I can't rest and feel satisfied until I have it in my hands... and then it's the touring, and then it's the next project," Heap explains. "I wanted to release a song every three months so I can keep a flow of being creative and have kind of small wins in releasing something commercially."
In an effort to kick off the prolonged project with a bang, Heap asked fans to submit different sound snippets, or 'seeds,' earlier this month to be used in the first track, as well as words to a wordcloud that would inspire the lyrics to the song. In a little over a week, Heap pieced together "Lifeline" using her fans' uploaded sounds and created a corresponding music video that drew from submitted animation/film projects.
The song will be revealed publicly in a live Ustream on Heap's website later tonight, and the singer says she couldn't be happier with the thousands of fan contributions to the finished multimedia experiment. "Somebody's dishwasher door, somebody's bicycle wheel, somebody's egg in a bowl, somebody's cat, somebody's trumpet, have all ended up in some weird way on this song, and it's really been a great adventure," says Heap.
As for the lyrics to "Lifeline," she says that "what was on everyone's minds was what's going on in Japan. At the time, [the earthquake] had just happened that weekend, and I'm very grateful that it was on their conscious minds, because I wanted to write a song about it but I was only going to write a song about these seeds that they put into this wordcloud."
Although she may not have a new album ready for three years, Heap plans to play her new songs live in the meantime, with a brief Australian tour kicking off April 18 in Melbourne. "I get to enjoy playing new songs all the time -- there will always be something new over the next three years," she says.