By Pete Carroll (April 2020)
In a world of false constructs and fakeoids (is that a word ?!), seeking their fifteen minutes of fame, feeding their own vainglorious appetites, very few music artists these days are unique. Even fewer dare to be. But not so with Hailey Beavis. Hailey’s music and art is a bold statement of self. Fearless in expressing her humanity, her emotions, her sense of self and individuality, her music and her art compare to none but her own sense of who she is at any particular moment in time. Time, is it our collective decay ? If so, then let us live and breathe our own colours and fanfares our own way.
Hailey is a Singer-Songwriter and Artist based in Edinburgh. She released her five track EP “Whatever You Feel I Do Too” in January this year.
We take a glimpse into her magical world of music and art, but listen to the single from it “Stranger Inside” a listen/watch. It’s a superb song and engaging video.
Q: How did you first become involved in music – lessons as child etc ?
“My parents bought an old upright piano for my brother and I to learn on when we were kids. We both had lessons for many years. I never really progressed all that much technically. This is in part because I rarely practiced for the lessons. It just seemed like work to me at the time. Despite this lack of engagement, I got enough of a musical grounding to start writing later on, when I felt like it.
I remember my piano teacher once telling my mum when they thought I was out of earshot that she felt like she had failed me because she couldn’t teach me to read music or really excite me into focusing at all. I felt terrible at that moment, because I had never considered how my disinterest might have made her feel as a teacher. The truth is I never really cared about making music until I had a reason to do so. I’m not sure I could have been externally inspired at that point. The first time I sat at the piano with any real interest was when I had some seemingly inexpressible emotions at about 14. These days I write mainly on guitar, but I can still taste the feeling I felt then.”
Q: You’re originally from Norfolk, what brought you to Edinburgh to live ?
“Another compelling love story and a reasonable desire to leave my home town.”
Q: How/When did you first start writing your own material and what was the driving force behind it ?
“I had been writing lyrics and singing in bands with my friends and also with a partner who played guitar. Of course, not being able to really play an instrument myself at that stage meant I lost all my material when we parted company. This was a far greater sorrow for me than the break up itself, and it was at that stage I realised I had to be more musically self reliant. I bought a guitar at some point after moving to Scotland. I discovered folk sessions and Guinness and my own emotional independence all at the same time. It was a heady trinity that gave me many years of strong writing and strutting about.”
Q: What processes do you go through when writing new material – Do you sit down with acoustic guitar and drive out the melodies, chord progressions/arrangements with lyrics etc or do your lyric ideas come first ?
“The process has changed over the years, alongside me. Somethings remain the same though, for example, I still do a lot of my lyric writing in transit – walking from place to place, buses, trains. There is something very calming in that movement that helps me to focus and extract
summaries from what I am feeling or thinking about. I find it a struggle to confront an empty page in a quiet space. As with all the art I make, there is rarely a plan, and the ideas and themes seem to emerge after the fact and not before. In terms of the musical side of songwriting, I use the guitar a lot. I find a set of noises that suit my mood and often pin the song on a phrase or vocal melody. The loop pedal is
instrumental for me in crafting the shape of a song as it allows me to build it up and hear multiple ideas and melodies at once. I will revisit the same idea many times to add and refine it, recording rough sketches of it on my phone each time and listening back to determine what’s working and what’s not.”
Q: I’ve noticed on your website, your Words section with prose/poetry (?), seems to use the “cut up” method akin to that of David Bowie and William S Burrows (Bowie described it as a “very western tarot” method). Is that how your song lyrics are created (if that’s what you do to generate your poems/prose) – Or are your lyrics more literal than that, taking their lead from direct human experience and relationships ?
“I find this method of writing an astonishing way of picking through your brain. The relationship between random and self determined works for me on so many levels. I find I can be so free and uninhibited with it because I don’t feel entirely responsible for the outcome! And yet, when I later read back what is written, I often find I have hit on just how I feel. From this, I can pluck out lines and bits of verse to work into songs. My songs are generally more formulaic and less abstract than these poems, but the vivid imagery can often appear first in the poems.”
Q: I would describe your lyrics/songs as “novels in musical form”. Do you have plans to write novels / become an author ?
“No plans at all. Whilst I am capable of intense focus in my own way, its only ever in short bursts and generally needs to be split over more than one activity. Songs and poems are the perfect form for me. I can’t conceive of tackling anything bigger at this time.”
* Your art is very unique, albeit abstract/surreal, yet so very engaging. Do you think the symbolism in your art is the same as in your lyrics/music ? or is your art more abstract/surreal and more cerebral than the songs ?
“Thank-you! I think there are definite parallels in the way I work on visual art and music. As with music, I rarely have a set idea of what I am going to draw or paint before I begin. I usually have a hankering to see something, or use certain colours and begin with that. I generally begin and respond to what I’m making as it emerges. Its fun for me to work from life and imagination simultaneously, so for example I will often draw from a photograph but will b corrupting the realism as I go with various ideas I have. I am all about the collaging of layers
Q: How would you describe your lyrics/songs – are they a reflection of being in the moment or a reaction to whats happened previously ?
“I like this question! Although I’m not really sure what the answer is. Lots of my songs are concerned with whatever present I am experiencing and working through at the time. I think my main drive for writing is generally to reify the things that I think and feel. To make something good of the all the confusions of thoughts and fears is a process that makes me feel more whole and grounded. I think i’m mostly about the present but I have to jump around through my life so far to compare and contrast the feelings.”
* Art work – some wonderful pieces on your website – possible additional revenue stream in creating
Book / Album covers ?
“I am very open to commissions”
Q: Do you play any other instruments ?
“I can play the drums some, the piano a little. My method is generally to sit with an instrument until I can make it do something, then feel like the queen of the world for 2 minutes and move on.”
Q: Did you study art at College/Uni ?
“Yes I studied Fine Art at A Level and went on to do a foundation year at Norwich School of Art & Design.”
Q: Your new EP “Whatever You Feel I Do Too” was released in January – What are the themes within the songs, are they all related by circumstance, or varying experiences ?
“The EP deals with love and loss, and learning to have your own back. Perseverance and self reliance through it all. Each song presents a different take on the same strange stretch of time in my life.”
Q: Were you involved in Producing the songs – how did you decide on the instrumentation for them – And how long did it take to record etc ?
“I recorded the EP with Pete Harvey at Pumpkinfield, his studio near Perth. I am fortunate enough to know some very talented players, so it was not difficult to choose the chore instrumentation. Beyond that, Pete and I would listen back after each recording session and figure out what sounds we felt it needed. Pete is an excellent cellist and came up with some amazing arrangements of sounds to conjure various moods we wanted to develop. My synth also came in very handy in finding weirdly perfect noises. I think the record took about a week to make, but we spied the work over a few weeks, which worked well as it gave me time to listen back and consider what I wanted to hear.”
Q: Do you self record (demos), to “first draft” the arrangements/structures of the songs before going into the studio and recording, or do you rehearse and then go with it ? how much planning goes into the songs for studio recording ?
“Yes, there are always multiple demos and drafts on the go before going in to the studio, but I like to remain open to whim and I like to be able to respond to what is being created there and then. It works for me to keep things loose.”
Q: Do you gig with a band or are you a solo performer ?
“I am mainly a solo performer these days, but this is more out of necessity than anything. I have played in bands lots over the years, and the joy of playing music and building a sound with other humans cannot be underestimated, but this is not always financially possible. My flatmate Mario Cruzado and I have been working on each others musical projects lately and its delightful to hear songs getting lifted by extra instrumentation and someone else’s ideas.”
Q: What are your plans for 2020 and beyond ?
“I co-run a small label called OK Pal Records with my dear friend and fellow songwriter Faith Eliott. Together, we conjure up all sorts of plans and creative ideas that we realize through the label. You can find us at okpalrecords.com for all the excitement. I had a UK Spring tour booked and ready to announce, but unfortunately I have to push it back to Autumn due to the fact that no one is going any where anytime soon! Like everyone, I am trying to redirect my energies and count my blessings. As soon as it’s safe to leave the house though, I will be recording the album, and I cannot wait!”
Q: Your current single from the EP “Stranger Inside” is captivating, I’ve lost count on how many times I’ve listened to it and watched the video. The video for it is shot in a hall of sorts, with stage. Its quite a simple setting, but the video is extremely engaging to watch. Who devised the video, what should be done etc…where was it shot and who is the dancer with you in it ?
For the single video I essentially wanted to shamelessly romp and frolic around a big empty space. I came up with the basic concept, Mario Cruzado filmed the video, and we worked with Faith Eliott to make it happen.
The song is hinged on two very conflicting states of mind, when on the cusp of letting something go. And what better way to express the juxtaposition between the lightness in giving up and that desperate need to hold on, than by making some moody shapes and leaping about senselessly! The star of the video is without question my talented young friend Craig. He loves spinning and it’s such a beautiful sight to behold. I had never seen anyone move with such natural power and balance until I saw Craig spinning about a decade ago. I asked if he would spin in a music video for me one day and we have been talking about it ever since. I’m so glad the day has finally arrived! I wanted to outwardly express the joy I feel in this video. This EP marks the beginning of me being the full version of myself. It takes effort to cross that line. Stranger Inside is about that surprisingly relentless and resilient part of you that keeps on spinning even though you may feel world-weary and cynical. Craig’s rapid whirling just seems to convey that essence. I love that we cocooned this whole concept in one room for the video. There is no distraction from the message.
Wishing Hailey every success in 2020 and beyond