By Peter LaBerge, Editor-in-Chief
Songs can speak – especially when they're written by Hayley Solano, whose lyrics blur the lines between music and prose. But behind the conversation held within a song is a conversation with the writer herself – meet our Beat Converses for the month of May, Hayley Solano!
Peter LaBerge, Editor-in-Chief: Thanks so much for chatting with me! First of all, before we really dive in, could you give our readers the brief low-down on what you and your music are about?
Hayley Solano: I’d love to! I really fell in love with music when I was a teenager. Teenage years can be so difficult to navigate, but during that time I would come across songs that described exactly how I felt. I thought that was so magical – that someone who had no idea I even existed could make me feel less alone. That’s when I realized I wanted to be able to give that gift to people: the gift of feeling understood. I’ve always absolutely loved singing and writing, so putting the two together to share my stories was really natural for me.
I personally adore your mantra, “in love with stories. i tell mine in songs.” seen on your YouTube page and your website. It seems to me that a lot of vocalists and musicians see narrative as not a central priority to the development of a song, if a factor at all. Has your link between storytelling and music always there? How did you develop it?
Absolutely! I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember. The words “once upon a time” are so magical to me. When you’re little, they’re often a precursor to a fantasy world or fairytale, which is so much fun to imagine. It was really natural for me to incorporate storytelling in my songwriting, especially because of the music I’m drawn to. My favorite kinds of songs have always been the ones that tell detailed stories – that keep you on the edge of your seat, waiting to hear the next line.
Do you have a favorite original song that you’ve written? What makes it your favorite?
Oh gosh, that’s a difficult question! I think the most recent song I’ve written is always my favorite! However, I’m in the process of recording four original songs that are really special to me and each tell very personal stories. If I had to choose one I think I would choose a song called “Yes.” It’s about the one that got away suddenly reappearing in your life – the one person you thought you’d lost forever, coming back to you.
What is one thing about making YouTube videos that you prefer over performing live? What, in turn, do you prefer about performing live?
I really enjoy both! Making videos is great because you can have as much control as you’d like. If you think your performance could be better, you can do several takes, try different angles, and more. Performing live is totally different. You basically have one shot to look and sound exactly how you want to! Although that can feel like a lot of pressure, the wonderful thing about performing live is the energy. There’s no feeling quite like singing songs based on pages of your diary to a room of strangers.
On your website you write, “I knew it wouldn't hurt to pursue a degree while growing as an artist.” This is something, as an undergraduate student editor, I try to balance as well, but I know that at points it came be extremely challenging. Do you have advice for students like us out there who aim to pursue the arts in the context of other degrees and academic commitments?
It can be really difficult! Balancing music and studies was always a challenge for me when I was in school. Focusing on school work can be a strain on creativity while taking the time to be creative can affect studies. To be honest, I did focus a lot more on school than music when I was pursuing my degree. It always helps to keep the end goal in mind and know once you’ve accomplished your academic goals, you will have more time for other interests!
If you weren’t a singer/songwriter, what kind of artist would you want to be?
Definitely some kind of writer and/or storyteller. Writing has always been such a wonderful form of expression for me. I also think it would be so fun to come up with concepts for music videos.
I asked this question to Hannah Trigwell in the last installment, but I’m curious: who’s the coolest person you’ve been able to work with thus far, and what’s the coolest place you’ve been able to visit for music?
I’m absolutely loving working with my producer on my songs. He is so full of incredible ideas and has helped me to develop my sound in a way that I’ve always dreamed of. There are so many places I would love to visit for music. I’ve always dreamed of visiting England and hope to play there next year. Nashville is also at the top of my list!!
And, finally, what’s next for Hayley Solano? Where can we find you in the future?
I’m planning to release music this year! I’m in the process of recording right now which is so exciting. I’m falling in love with being in the studio, and it’s so exciting to bring these songs to life in a way I’m really proud of. I can’t wait to share these stories. Also, I’m always playing shows in the LA area!
Peter LaBerge is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Hook (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015). His recent work is featured or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, Redivider, Copper Nickel,Best New Poets 2014, DIAGRAM, and Indiana Review, among others. He grew up in Connecticut, and now lives in Philadelphia, where he is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania and the Founder & Editor-in-Chief of The Adroit Journal. Learn more at www.peterlaberge.com.
MORE BEAT CONVERSES:
September 2014 - Caroline Glaser.
Octover 2014 - Louisa Wendorff.
January 2015 - Drew Tabor.
February 2015 - Maddy Hudson.
March 2015 - India Carney.
March 2015 - Hannah Trigwell.
May 2015 – Hayley Solano.