Photo Credit: Lindsay Elliott
There isn’t a coming of age tale I’ve come across that I don’t like. There’s so much beauty in the idea of realizing who you are in this world, whether it be at 13 or 26 like Haley Blais. Still confronting who she is and where she belongs in time and space, she dove deep on her debut, ‘Below The Salt,’ out August 25, 2020. We talked about the record, FOMO, and more ahead of the big release below.
Kendra: Having spent time recording in your bedroom, thinking back – what was the number one song you grew up singing along to in your bedroom that you feel shaped you most?
Haley Blais: “On My Own” from ‘Les Miserables,’ specifically Lea Salonga. What a way to out me as a musical theatre buff the first question in.
Kendra: ‘Below The Salt’ is noted as a coming of age record that disputes the idea of when one comes of age. Typically those characters, those tales, center around teens and tweens. Why do you feel like that’s not so much the case for everyone?
Haley Blais: Because I’m walking proof, baby! Yeah, I tend to write music that’s specifically nostalgia-based — if I’m ever thinking back on a personal anecdote or memory to write on I’ll see it in the vignette of a scene from ‘Stand by Me’ or something, but I’m nearly 26. I think no matter how old I am I’ll always yearn for that tenderness and innocence you perceive the world with when you’re 12.
Kendra: So “On a Weekend.” I felt this song in my bones because I’m a hermit but like, I also get super anxious whenever I see people I know hanging out without me. Was this track inspired by a particular event or was it a general feeling that you have more often than not?
Haley Blais: Definitely a general feeling, there are too many particular instances to count. The feeling of rejection or “FOMO” is so tangible to me, but at the same time I’m like, “Okay but now I can stay in bed and binge-watch ‘Veep,’ so this is fine.” It’s a rollercoaster of back and forth between the two, and sonically I think it embodies that carnival ride.
Kendra: With that, this year has been a wild one for everyone, but how do you feel 2020 has shaped your creativity and drive moving forward?
Haley Blais: I’ve really had to confront myself these last few months and had the realization that I need to take myself more seriously. Which is proving harder than expected…When I’m alone and in my element writing music I’m so confident, there’s so much freedom in that for me. But when it’s time to present those songs, whether it be performing or recording, or whatever, I flail and joke around, and let others take the lead, like I don’t deserve it. I’m learning how to let myself deserve to be a musician if that makes sense.
Kendra: Usually, this is where I ask people what they have planned in the coming months but with the world in a strange place right now, plans aren’t as concrete as they typically are. You can go ahead and let us know what you have tentatively planned but can you also share a song that never fails to get you through when the world around you feels like a mess?
Haley Blais: There’s a distant and hesitant tour for later on in 2021 that may or may not come to fruition. I’m just looking forward to having this album out and off my shoulders. I’ve been carrying it with me for so long, I’m ready to let it go. “Hammond Song” by The Roches gives me hope.