by Kathy Sands-Boehmer
Hayley Reardon is already a seasoned pro in the music business; she’s been playing at an astounding number of clubs, coffeehouses and festivals since she was in junior high school. Hayley is now a college sophomore who is studying music at Belmont University in Nashville. This Marblehead, Massachusetts native writes from experience and from a fresh perspective and her maturation as an artist has blossomed exponentially each year. Hayley has proven time and time again that she is wise beyond her years; she wrote a song about bullying when she was a young teen and that song made a profound impact on teenagers all across the country where she would go and speak to school and club organizations about ways to prevent bullying. She’s since moved on to more young adult issues that deal with leaving home and finding community. It’s exciting to watch Hayley grow. Keep an eye on her for sure!
Noise: You’ve been writing songs for at least eight years. Have you changed the way you compose as compared to when you were much younger? I’m wondering if the more you have learned about music theory and composition has changed your style at all.
Haley: I don’t know if my whole approach to writing has changed as there was a spirit to the kind of winging-it way I wrote when I first started that I still cherish and try to protect. With that being said, there is definitely a lot more knowledge of craft behind what I do now. There are a lot of things I think about while writing that never would have crossed my mind back when I first started writing.
Noise: Do you listen to your earlier material?
Haley: Very rarely. I put out my first recorded project when I was 12 so going back and listening to that older stuff usually just makes me cringe.
Noise: Do you still perform any songs from your earlier recordings or have you distanced yourself from them as you’ve matured?
Haley: There are a few tunes I still play from my earlier projects — like “Numb & Blue” from Wayfindings and sometimes “Tribe” or “Where the Artists Go” from my first full length record by request. For the most part though I’m always drawn to my newest material.
Noise: Good is the third album that Lorne Entress has produced for you. What does Lorne bring to the studio that works so well for you?
Haley: Lorne is not only oh so musical and creative but also so gentle and kind that he truly brings out the best in everyone in the room. He entered my musical life at a very poignant time and has helped me grow so much.
Noise: My favorite song on Good is “Fourth Grade.” I love that you were able to write a song about you as an “elder.” Did thinking about how that young girl saw you make you think some more about how you view your elders and how they view you? (I’m here to say that I have friends who are 40 years younger than me and a few that are 20 or even 30 years older than me and it’s all “good.”)
Haley: Definitely. “Fourth Grade” is really special to me because in addition to being one of my first experiences feeling like “an elder” in someone else’s eyes, it made me look back at my younger self in a new way. It gave me an appreciation for a part of life that I think is sometimes overlooked.
Noise: Another favorite is “Work More.” I’m wondering about the genesis of that song. You mention Steinbeck in the song. Was that song inspired by “Grapes of Wrath”? Had you made a connection between Guthrie and Steinbeck?
Haley: You guessed it! I love Steinbeck and have read a lot of his stuff but this song popped out soon after my first reading of Grapes of Wrath. Although I am aware of the Guthrie / Steinbeck connection I wouldn’t say Woody Guthrie was as much on my mind when writing it. I had actually watched a video of 50 Cent talking about art and “hustle” and felt compelled to write something about work and purpose and why we create.
Noise: Tell us about the college experience at Belmont. What’s been the best thing about college life and what is the worst thing?
Haley: There are so many kind and creative people at Belmont. I think the best gift it has given me has been that sense of community, which has been so vital especially at the beginning. I always think about what my transition moving to Nashville would have looked like had I decided to just head down here on my own without the support structure of college. It was something I debated about a lot but I’m very grateful to have been at Belmont for the past two years. I guess the worst part would be the limitations college puts on fully pursuing certain aspects of my music…like touring gets tricky when I can only commit to long weekends.
Noise: How would you describe the Nashville scene? How different is it or similar is it to the Boston scene?
Haley: I think the sense of community and support is reminiscent of the scene I know and love in Boston / greater New England. With that being said, no one moves to Boston to “make it” so it breeds a very different environment. When I first got to Nashville I felt a little sucked into the “Nashville way” of doing things, but after being down here for almost two years I’ve come to realize there are so many (literally so many) musicians in this town approaching their art and careers in so many different ways. And because it is so saturated and can feel a bit like a musical snow globe (for better or for worse), it has also helped me to step outside my musical bubble and realize there are a whole boatload of people chasing completely different dreams here in Music City, too!
Noise: You’ve traveled all over the country playing your music. Do you ever get to explore the places you play or does it feel like going from city to city to city?
Haley: I always try to build in time to do a little exploring! It can be kind of grueling trying to build a fan base city by city by city and I think a big part of what keeps any musician going is creating the opportunity to have adventures in new places along the way.
Find out more about Hayley Reardon at www.hayleyreardon.com
She will be playing with Ryan Hommel at the me&thee in Marblehead on Friday, April 14. www.meanthee.org