Connect

About Heather



[For shortened bios and other press materials please visit Heather's EPK]
Heather Styka dances where others fear to tread, gleefully cutting to the truth with gutsy vulnerability. She combines the lyrical intricacy of folk with a catchy melodic pop sensibility and the grit of classic country in songs that are smart and disarming. Call it folk, call it Americana, call it alt-country, but Styka’s heartfelt croon draws as much inspiration from classic warblers such as Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald as it does from Shawn Colvin and Eva Cassidy.

After growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Styka moved to the city to studying creative writing, meanwhile honing her song craft among Chicago’s long-standing folk community. Her 2011 release Lifeboats for Atlantis brought her to national attention, hitting #3 on the FOLK-DJ charts. Styka's honest, image-heavy songs have garnered her a number of awards, including being a New Folk Finalist at the Kerrville Folk Festival (2015, 2017) and official showcases at Folk Alliance International, NERFA, SWRFA, and FARM.

While living in Portland, Maine, Heather Styka released While This Planet Spins Beneath Our Feet. Recorded in the Adirondacks with Beehive Productions and printed by Styka on a 1901 letterpress in Maine, this 2014 release charted for four months on FOLK-DJ. Songs like “Love in the Multiverse” and “Caspian Sea” reveal Styka’s intellectual curiosity — and her passion for philosophy, history, and theoretical physics — while the earnest and catchy pop sensibilities of “Careful With My Heart” caught the ears of a number of peers who now cover that song, including Joe Jencks (Brother Sun) and Scott Cook.

Styka’s next album, The Bittersweet Tapes (2016), “tugs the ear on first listen and greets you like an old friend on subsequent visits” (Simon Rigby, Indie Music Portal). These gut-punch pretty songs nod to traditional folk, classic country, and even garage rock, carried by Styka’s emotive vocals. Recorded in Tulsa, Oklahoma on an old four track recorder with sparse, ethereal production by John Calvin Abney (John Moreland, Samantha Crain), The Bittersweet Tapes retains an unfiltered immediacy. “In this raw and intimate portrait of life, disguised as a collection of songs, Heather Styka has truly created a masterpiece… A writer with this kind of vision and ability doesn’t come along very often” (Chris Darby, Independent Melody). 

Live, Heather Styka comes off as something like Leonard Cohen crossed with Patsy Cline. Armed with a guileless, unvarnished delivery, she's equal parts wordsmith and entertainer. Styka’s energetic shows feel as intimate and candid as late night conversation, peppered with a quirky sense of humor and confessional storytelling.

Once again working with Beehive Productions, Styka is currently working on her fifth full-length studio album, North, which was recorded with Danish backing band The Sentimentals in a cabin in northern Wisconsin. The resulting recordings are lush and immediate, with songs that are both anchored in the current political reality and timeless in their poetry and empathy.
Stacks Image 459

Press Quotes


“Intricate finger picking, perfect melodies, and heartbreakingly beautiful lyrics… The Bittersweet Tapes is a collection of 12 songs recorded on an old four track recorder, a method that allows her to convey a more raw and intimate feeling than previous releases… In this raw and intimate portrait of life, disguised as a collection of songs, Heather Styka has truly created a masterpiece… A writer with this kind of vision and ability doesn’t come along very often and it’s an honor to have her among us for this brief and fleeting moment in time.”

- Independent Melody, Chris Darby


"With a compelling mix of storytelling and scene setting, Heather Styka takes the listener with her on every note… [The Bittersweet Tapes] tugs the ear on first listen and greets you like an old friend on subsequent visits."

- Indie Music Portal, Simon Rigby


"With a classically modern folky warble, a nimble fingerpicked guitar, and a gently placed rhythm section, Heather Styka has given us a sonically immaculate recording of personal narratives and captured moments... there's enough to keep anyone listening..."

-Sam Ueda, Dispatch Magazine


“One word leaps to mind to describe Heather Styka’s voice — purity… Heather’s unique delivery combines the influences of a fragile Irish air, the warm effervescence of upbeat Americana, soulful country and mournful blues. Her voice ensures these songs hit that place in your chest where emotions reside…. Discerning beauty and sensitivity... Every song fits perfectly into the whole and the sum total of [Lifeboats for Atlantis] is stunning.”

- Tim Carroll, FolkWords


“Heather’s songs capture moments, impressions, feelings, and thoughts in a way that connects with the listener, a lyrical wave that can carry one to shore with a solid conclusion, or go way out into the ocean, searching for an answer, insight, or direction”

- Lilli Kuzma, WDCB-FM


“Stories are often lurking behind the lyrics of a song - sometimes obscurely so. But fine and direct storytelling... is a special art when it comes to songwriting. And it's that kind of artistic mastery that poet and folksinger Heather Styka displays.”

- Butch Kara, KZGM-FM