Fall In Love is out now!
Image: Marcus Coblyn.
Last month, Melbourne alt-rocker Hayley Mary released her wonderful third EP, Fall In Love. To celebrate the release, the musician not only took over MILKY's Instagram to share some behind-the-scenes content and grace us all with an acoustic performance of Fall In Love, she also sat down to chat about the EP, her draw to romantic songwriting, her upcoming tour and more!
Congratulations on your new EP Fall In Love. The songs bring a sense of feminine romanticism, but also offer up moments of social commentary. Could you give us some brief insight into the concepts and themes explored on the release…
Thank you. There’s certainly a couple of super romantic tracks on there which draw on my favourite music from childhood in my solo stuff in a big way. For example Motown shapes Fall In Love, or 80’s pop like Belinda Carlise shapes Bullet. But I do have a really critical and cynical side which battles with the romantic a bit, when I find my inner monolog railing over some crap that’s happening in the world, when I pay too much attention to the internet or the news or a change I see that scares me a little. That’s where songs like 27 come from I suppose. I don’t want to go too deeply into what that track is about, because I’m actually an optimist and it’s a pessimistic song. I just find putting my anger into vague and melodic songs is a better way of dealing with it than something more banal or prosaic like a tweet or facebook rant. Music is good for getting shit feelings out and not being overcome by them. I used to struggle to know whether the cynic or the romantic was more genuine in me, but they’re two sides of a coin and they sort of inevitably lead to one another.
Your sophomore EP The Drip arrived only five months before Fall In Love. What prompted you to follow it up so soon with new music?
I make rock music and the entirety of my solo career has been during a pandemic where there was basically no touring, which is the primary way you share rock music. Releasing recorded music quicker than I would have if I could have toured was just an adaptation to the new reality and the need to keep momentum in different ways. You must feed the eternally hungry algorithm or apparently you don’t actually exist. Ha.
You shared a wonderful visual for the title track, directed by Marcus Coblyn. How involved are you with conceptualising the visuals and bringing them to life?
I’m pretty hands on with visuals because it's been a challenging time to make an independent project and, in the case of Fall In Love for example, it’s literally just me and Marcus doing everything (& Shari my wonderful hair and makeup artist). We nut out ideas and I’ll help pull the logistics together as much as I can to lighten Marcus’s load. He lights, shoots, edits and grades everything and I just try to bring good little ideas and vibes to the shoot and my performance. But even with bigger production teams, like when I’ve worked with Tyson Perkins’ on Like A Woman Should or The Chain, I am still quite hands on. I’ve had enough bad experiences in the past when you turn a blind eye and then the end result doesn't feel right and you end up in someone's student short film with no significance to the song. But there’s a balance you need to achieve by developing a communication with your collaborators. You need to be present, but you also need to be confident in their vision of the thing as a whole and their ability to ‘see’ so that they can bring out the best in you. And ultimately you have to trust their judgement and knowledge of their own craft.
During your Instagram takeover of MILKY, you shared that the late Amy Winehouse is one of your favourite artists, and you made a subtle tribute to her in the clip with your hairstyle. How has her music and approach to bringing a contemporary authenticity to classic sounds influence your own way of making and this EP?
I’ve always been drawn to ‘classic’ and romantic songwriting from multiple eras. Amy had a big impact on me because she was actually in my own time and did nostalgia without being pastiche, which is actually a huge feat. I suppose all music is drawing on past genres but I think it takes real backbone to do such a potent throwback to a genre that expresses such old school levels of motion and sensitivity in a world that is becoming dominated by cryptic clique understatement. I think you can only get away with that level of earnestness f you mean it. I think Amy meant it and you felt it in her songs. That’s what made her timeless and one of the nest of our time. I am probably less certain of who I am than Amy came across, she has a special kind of singularity of voice and aesthetic, and I’ve got a way to go before I get that, but I’m inspired by her to at least put one word in front of the other and sing my way into finding my own version of that beauty and truth.
You co-produced the title track with Oscar Dawson, and enlisted Scott Horscroft and Johnny Took of DMA’S for the remaining songs. What do you think they brought to the project?
Yeah I had already recorded most of the tracks with Scott and Johnny and we just needed a 5th to make the EP long enough. Scott is obviously one of this country's iconic rock producers and he was a really obvious preference for me when I started making my solo stuff. He is particularly strong with drums and bass due to his love of the blues brothers (haha) and keeping a good balance between human groove and punchy pop sounding rock that can compete in today's ever slick and poppy world. Johnny co-writes some of the songs with me and is really into noisey guitar and synthesisers which adds a lot to the wall of sound vibes across all my EPs. With the track ‘Fall In Love’, it was a unique situation because I wanted it out before Xmas, but I was on my own lockdown, so I asked Oscar to work with me via zoom to finish a demo I already had. Some parts of the demo remained, like the vocals, synths, and Johnny’s noisey guitars, but Oscar really pulled it together, tightened the structure, and added a bunch of awesome guitars. He liaised with our friend Jackason McRae who played and recorded drums at his house and then Oscar mixed it. I think it sits really well with the rest of the EP, but is also different in ways I like too.
How do you think the new EP builds upon your sonic exploration as a solo artist, and differentiates Hayley Mary from The Jezabels?
For me the sonic differentiation between me and The Jezabels was pretty much immediate from my first EP. Personality is pretty different. I have less weight on my shoulders than I did then and it makes for lighter music and I’m a bit of a simpleton when it comes to musicianship, so that probably comes across in the more straightforward songwriting. But it’s just about keeping on releasing music so that people come to understand that this really is me now. This is what I’m doing now, whole-heartedly. I also I took a more active role in the production of the single and I plan to step that up a little moving forward, which is very exciting and just part of continuing the journey toward being more self-sufficient as an artist.
If Fall In Love was a piece of pre-existing visual art, which artwork would it be?
I don’t even know what it’s called, but this photo, taken by Guy Bourdin for Vogue, Paris in 1970 and a bunch of his photography of the 1970’s. I love how you can see the 80’s style developing and really feel that he was on the cusp of something glorious, but it’s still hazy and hasn’t had time to become overblown.
Which song off the EP would you play to someone, who had never heard your music, to make them an instant fan?
Hmmmmmmmmmm. That would depend on who it was because there’s a bit of a range there, but maybe 27, because it has moments of minimal vulnerability and a sense of romantic yearning, but it’s also angry as fuck.
What’s one line from Fall In Love you find at times can be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
‘I don’t wanna flail; end up on the rail everytime he goes. I wanna go, fall in love…’
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite local acts you think everyone should be listening to?
Bad Dreems, Dante Knowes, Planet, Annie Hamilton, King Stingray, murmurmur, The Terrifying Lows, Caitlin Harnett and The Pony Boys, Johnny Hunter, Shogun and the Sheets, Melodrones, DMA’S, TripleOne, Kerser.
You’ll be busy hitting the road in early 2022, performing at a number of festivals including King Street Carnival and supporting HOLY HOLY on their tour. What can audiences expect from the shows?
A world class rock n roll show… Also I plan to wrangle Holy Holy into singing our cover of Empire of the Sun’s Walking On a Dream, which we recorded for The Sound with Tia Gostelow, live on the tour at some point.
Which other acts are you keen to check out at King Street Carnival?
You Am I, Confidence Man, Amyl and the Sniffers, Rat Cat, CLYPSO, Yothu Yindi, Shogun and the Sheets, The Laurels.
You’ll also be reuniting with The Jezabels for the Prisoner Ten Year Anniversary Tour! What are you most looking forward to from this run of shows?
I am looking forward to wearing only black again for a whole tour. It’s been a while. Also I would really like it if I can convince the band that we need to do the Kabuki screen drop again. Also, it will be great to be able to play the album in full, some songs have hardly ever been played, some not at all. That will be special.
ABBA, David Bowie, Kate Bush, Queen, The Ronettes, Roy Orbison, Cyndi Lauper, The Go Betweens, Stone Roses, The Cure, Carole King, The Killers.
I’d like to do a Christmas song with Elton John or someone equally huge and iconic.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
I don’t listen to a lot of albums. I’m a song person, But probably Hounds Of Love, by Kate Bush.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Pop rock collage.
Best song of 2021 so far?
We’re Midnight DMA’S.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Edward Scissorhands, Tim Burton or Lost Highway, David Lynch.
What’s your favourite Christmas song?
Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses.
What was the first song you loved to sing?
Unchained Melody, The Righteous Brothers.
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Turn Me On, Kevin Lyttle.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Hot Fuss, The Killers.
First concert you went to?
Parkway Drive in high school at the Byron Youth Centre.
Best concert you have been to?
First album you ever bought?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Sydney Opera House with The Jezabels on my 27th birthday.
Guilty music pleasure?
I don't feel guilty for musical pleasure.
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
What advice would your current self give your future self, for a year from now?
Don’t listen to me, you are a whole year wiser than I am.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Around four years old, when I wrote my first song called ‘I Hide My Smile’.
Fall In Love is out now!