Haley McCallum

The artist formerly known as Haley Bonar has been touring the UK following the critical success of album Impossible Dream. The tour includes a stop off in Jumbo Records, Leeds on 2 April so we thought we’d pose her a few questions to find out what to expect from one of her shows, thoughts on her album’s reaction and a love of Michael Kiwanuka.

By Jane Howkins

You’re currently on tour in the UK. How is it going? Any interesting tour stories so far?
So far so good! Everyone has been really awesome; crowds have been amazing!

Is there anywhere you particularly enjoy playing, or look forward to going? Looking at the dates, it’s quite the extensive tour this time round!
This tour isn’t as gruelling as some. Last time we were here, in October, there wasn’t a single day off and many days were filled in studios or in stores, as well as shows. This one, so far, is fairly mellow.
I always love spending time in Brighton, which was one of our first stops, and I am looking forward to visiting Ireland. It’s been a while since I’ve been there.

Why do you think people should buy a ticket for the remaining dates and come and see you perform, and what can people expect from a Haley show?
People should come see shows if they like the tunes. I’m not gonna promise prizes (said with a smile). Expect feelings and distortion.

We hear you recently changed your name, from Haley Bonar to Haley McCallum, and are performing under the moniker of just ‘Haley’. Why did you decide to do this?
I wrote a pretty in depth explanation and released it on the Internet so as to avoid this question, but I’m basically sick of correcting people who slaughter my name, and also want to live part of my life under my matriarchal name. People change their names all the time. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a while.

You released an album last August, titled Impossible Dream, which was received rather well. How did that feel? What can you tell us about it, for those who haven’t heard it yet?
The reception was very good, and that’s always pleasing for an artist. I spend a lot of time working on the songs, writing, recording, waiting for it to be released. That’s my part in it. The rest is up to the audience to interpret. I’d rather not get in the way of that experience for people.

What is the writing and recording process like for you? Do you write most of your stuff before going into the studio, and do your songs change a lot once you have started recording?
Writing is a different process than recording. For me, it’s part of the same picture, but two separate mindsets. Writing is unhurried, private, introspective. Recording is working with other people to bring life and colour to the songs, giving them shape and personality around the lyrics. Both require a strong amount of intuition and trust.

Have you started writing new music already, or are you saving that for after the tour? You’ve been quite prolific over the years.
I am always writing stuff. It’s not always music, but it’s all part of it, I suppose. I’m sure another album will be in the works in the next year.

Who/what inspires you most when writing music? Any bands or artists, or anything else?
Literature, films, nature, my daughter, plenty of alone time.

What have you been listening to recently, and what sort of music are you into? Anything you recommend our readers check out?
I really like Micheal Kiwanuka’s album Love and Hate. I’m into a lot of music. I like pop and hip-hop and punk and movie soundtracks. I match the music I listen to to the mood I’m in or a space I want to be in. Lately, when I drive around town at home, I’m pumping Kendrick Lamar or Run the Jewels.

Any last words for the fans?
I know the world is crazy and everything is available at all times and nothing seems sacred… so I thank you, sincerely, for checking out my songs and reading this far in the interview. You’re the best.

Haley McCallum plays at the Jumbo Records, Leeds on Sunday, 2 April 2017.