SHE has played for Bob Harris…
and enjoyed some wonderful memories in her career so far! Hayley McKay talks to me about her new track, Chance to Change, and why its messages will ring true with many; if there are any gigs coming this year – and, given the fact she has performed in Nashville, if she would like to return.
I ask what we can expect from her debut album; what it was like recording at Abbey Road Studios; the artists she grew up around; what she hopes to achieve in the remainder of this year – McKay ends the interview with a fantastic song selection.
Hi, Hayley. How has your week been?
Hi! My week has been good, thanks! I've been on a radio tour up and down the country promoting my album (which is out on 27th April). I played Hyde Park Book Club in Leeds at the weekend, with the band, which was fun.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
So. My music has elements of Country influences, vocally, and I would say overall Pop, Americana and Country – A.K.A., P.A.C.! It also has a British sound to it. Vocally and production-wise, it's clean, but with edge.
Tell me about the new single, Chance to Change. What is the story behind it?
Chance to Change is about someone in a relationship who is sick of giving their partner so many chances to change. In the video, we see the boyfriend ignoring his girlfriend and - on his phone constantly. I wanted it to have a message within the video that communication is so important for people and, if people are constantly looking at their phones, it can be a lonely battle. The song came to me from two great Irish writers: Aoibheann Carey Philpott and Joe Philpott Jnr.
Your debut album is out soon. What sort of themes do you explore?
Some of the themes include loneliness, despair and communication - but, above all, hope.
What was it like recording at Abbey Road Studios?!
Yes. We had my album mastered by Geoff Pesche at Abbey Road and it was an amazing experience. It was great to be there to understand how the mastering process works; to add the final polish and have everything ready for broadcast.
You co-write the majority of the songs on the album – working with a team, too. Was it important to have personal input into your music?
Some of the songs on my album were co-writes - and some of them I've had for a while. But, it's taken me a long time to find the right production/producer for them.
Which artists did you grow up listening to?
Some of the artists I listened to when I was younger included Whitney Houston, Celine Dion; Irene Cara and a lot of Disney songs! But, I was introduced to loads of styles from Mum and Dad's collection, not to mention the radio - which was always on in the house. I started out in musical theatre - so I listened to an awful lot of music!
I believe you met the legendary Bob Harris. What was that experience like?!
Yes. We met Bob Harris and we filmed the Under the Apple Tree music session in the studio in his garden which is, literally, under the apple tree. His voice was soothing, yes! He is such a legend - I'm reading his autobiography at the moment, which is very interesting!
Can we see you tour this year? Where can we catch you?
Yes. I'm touring around the U.K. at the moment. The live dates are all listed on my website.
You have performed, before, in Nashville. Is it a city you feel a connection with? Do you ever think about going back?
Yes. I loved Nashville. I'd love to go back out there and do a road trip around America with my music!
What do you hope to achieve this year?
In 2018, I hope to achieve success with my album; build my fan base and have lots of people come and see me perform live. I would also like some of my songs to get onto film/T.V. - and a publishing deal would be nice, too...
But, the right one, of course!
Have you got a standout memory from your time in music?
I've done some amazing gigs - so it's hard to pick just a single memory that stands out. However, one of them is opening the Toad Hall Stage at Glastonbury. Last year, I did a hometown gig at Durham Gala Theatre which I absolutely loved, because all my family and friends were there. It really was an incredible experience.
What advice would you offer new artists coming through?
Advice? Well. I would say always be open to opportunities, but try to keep as much creative control as you can. Always believe in what you do and be nice to people - because word can spread in the industry!
Everyone is unique and there is always space for new talent, so keep persevering!
IN THIS PHOTO: Jade Bird
What do you do to unwind away from music? Do you get much spare time?
Away from music; I like to spend time with family and friends and do all the normal things: go for walks in the countryside, go to the theatre; party etc. etc.! To relax/unwind, I might go for a walk or watch a film on Netflix.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name any song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
Newton Faulkner's Dream Catch Me from the album, Hand Built by Robots.
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