It began with an innocent question.
A fellow letter carrier asked Heather Loewen if she kept her dog in the back canopy of her truck.
“I said no because I don’t have a tail pipe and she’d get asphyxiated,” Loewen says while sucking back a smoothie in a local coffee shop.
“And he said, ‘Oh, that’s what you do with your boyfriends when you’re sick of them.’
“So by the end of the week we had an imaginary La-Z-Boy recliner and beer fridge in the back of my truck to make it more inviting.”
After a week of joking around with her co-worker, Loewen went home and penned Black Window Death Drive, a ditty about a “sweet young thing” who takes men on their final rides.
Fuelled with a few government grants and some pocket cash, the composer turned the tune into the lead song on her newly pressed debut album, Heather Loewen and the Daily Special’s All-Day Breakfast.
It’s a seven-track compilation crammed with energetic pop/rock tunes.
Loewen released the disc a few weeks ago at Paddy’s Place.
But growing up in Penticton, BC, Loewen never thought she’d turn out a musician.
“I wanted to be a novelist, and a marketing director,” she says.
The marketing director part came true; she held the post for a while at Yukon Brewery.
But the novelist part was a little harder to grasp.
“I wrote two-thirds of two different novels and half of a small business workbook — I just couldn’t finish any of them,” she says.
“And I didn’t get any good encouragement on my novel writing skills,” she adds sheepishly.
So songs it was.
She started composing tunes in 2001, nurtured by the Yukon’s supportive music scene.
“I’d been hanging around a bit with Kim Barlow, Kim Beggs, Natalie Edelson and Anne Louise Genest, around campfires and at music festivals, and they really inspired me to get the songs out of my head.”
She bought her first guitar and hunkered down in her Pine Ridge cabin to teach herself to play.
Soon afterwards, she made her debut, as many newcomers to the stage did, at the old Backwater Lounge’s Whitewater Wednesday open-mike nights.
“It was terrifying: I didn’t know what my hands were doing, my knees were shaking — I thought I was going to fall over,” she said with a smile.
“It was horrible, but it got easier.”
She formed her band, the members of which are constantly changing (hence the name Daily Special), using the six-degrees-of-separation philosophy — the drummer introduced her to the bassist and so on, until she had a full crew of instrumentalists.
“I moved from downtown Vancouver and it was just really busy and noisy and all you could really do was work and pay your bills.
“Coming up here there’s just more room and more people wanting to do their own thing.
“I can’t imagine having done this anywhere else.”
On top of writing and singing, Loewen has started a CD burning and design business out of her home, Start Up CD Promotions.
And she’s contracting out her services to other bands and artists.
She’s burned CDs for BJ MacLean, Friend Called Five and Music Yukon.
During the day she’s a temp letter carrier for Canada Post.
While pounding the pavement on her daily routes she works out harmonies and melodies in her head.
For inspiration, she credits Tarot card readings, walking her dog, strange conversations, the madness of Yukon life and fabulous crime fiction.
As for Fuel Your Fire, a song about “making love” in various locations, the inspiration remains a secret, she says.
She’ll play a solo gig at the Chocolate Claim on July 14 between 5 and 7 p.m.
The CD is available at the regular haunts around Whitehorse.