Interview: Haley Pharo
Mon, 19 May 2014 10:35:53
Haley Pharo Videos
Haley Pharo makes pop music on her own terms. That's instantly apparent after one listen to her new self-titled album. The record injects tangible emotion into airtight songwriting, making for a collection of utterly undeniable gems. Her voice takes center stage, carrying massive hooks, while each movement conveys a personal truth.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Haley Pharo talks her new album [iTunes link] and so much more.
Did you approach the album with one vision or vibe in mind?
It molded itself. I started the record with “Con Artist”, our first single. It went on its own journey after that. When I thought we had the record done, it seemed it was missing a few pivotal moments. I went back into the studio at that point. At the same time, it wasn’t totally overthought to become what it did.
Do certain themes recur?
Yeah, it’s mostly because of where I was at in my life. I experienced a lot. That’s why the record is more in one vein emotionally.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
That’s one of my favorite things about reading anything or writing anything. I love to be able to picture a story. I’m a very visual person so I love when something jumps out at you. I love anything to do with creativity. I’m always watching or reading something. I try to pull something away from what I’m experiencing too. A new idea can spark and create a vision for me. I’m usually doing something! I have a list going in my phone where I put things I’ve heard or seen that could be a concept for a song or an idea to go after. I keep those wheels turning all the time.
What’s the story behind “Identity”?
I was in a relationship that wasn’t my best one. I had just gotten home from a trip with him. It went so horribly. During that time, I realized who I thought he was and who I was actually dating were two completely separate people. I got home that night, went to the studio, and wrote that song. It was so fresh. I used it as a therapy. I used that as fuel. No one could get mad at me for saying it that way either [Laughs].
Do songs often happen in the moment like that?
They’ll be put down on paper or I’ll put them into a recorder pretty quickly afterwards. I use music as therapy in a lot of ways. It’s a very therapeutic process. I’ll spew it out, and then I’ll go back and shape it to make it prettier on the page.
Where did “Your Darling” come from?
The two producers played this record on the piano, and it was so beautiful. One of them was British, and he always called everyone “Darling”. I thought it was so cute. I said, “I hope someone calls me ‘Darling’ one day” because he was always calling his girlfriend “Darling”. I started singing it, and it totally wrote itself. I thought, “This is what the song is! It’s really simple and pretty”. It’s got a romantic hopefulness too. It also leaves the next chapter of music open for me. There’s a hopeful feeling. There are some angry moments in the record, but this is a good vibe to end on [Laughs].
What artists shaped you?
I listened to Michael Jackson a ton as a kid as well as Eva Cassidy and Whitney Houston. I’m a huge Celine Dion fan. I listened to a lot of the classics and Motown. I was all over the board as a kid. I don’t know how my parents kept up with me! I always go back to Michael. Eva Cassidy is one of my idols. You should check her out. At only 32-years-old, she died from cancer but she recorded a lot of her songs live. She was emotionally there with all of her records. I love her. I’m a huge fan of Adele and Ed Sheeran too.
If you were to compare the album to a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That’s a great question! I feel like it would be somewhere between Wait Until Dark and Breakfast at Tiffany's. They’re two Audrey Hepburn movies. I’d say Wait Until Dark because there were moments on the writing side when I was going in very blindly and experiencing emotional turmoil. I was unsure about how everything would turn out. I’d say Breakfast At Tiffany’s because there’s that hopeless romantic side of how I was feeling and how I wanted to feel in that record. I came at it from both angles in the writing process. That’s one of my favorite questions I’ve ever been asked!
Have you heard Haley Pharo yet?