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root salad f26 Haley Heynderickx


American women: 1 – Jeanette Leech meets an offbeat songwriter who grew up in Oregon.


derickx. “I’m really shocked to see how these songs can transform and be taken by people, and how they mean different things to me.”


“I


We meet before a gig in Camden Ding- walls, and the singer-songwriter is bewil- dered not only by the attention she is attracting for her music, but also by the bus- tle of this North London tourist trap. “The thing is, I feel ten times more shy since the album came out,” she says. “I know I’m a weirdo. I have roommates obsessed with personality tests and I’ll take them for fun. It’ll come out ’51 per cent extro- vert, 49 per cent introvert’.” She pauses. “It’s an awkward dance. But I’ll dance it.”


Haley’s debut album, I Need


To Start A Garden, is as much of a curious mix as its creator. Some songs are unbearably quiet and self-protective; others are ragged rebels, primal screams railing at the lack of headspace in a crowded world. “I’m thinking of how to take a tiny corner for myself,” she says. “I wrote these songs from places of wanting to under- stand what certain moments are in my life, and now the songs have taken on their own life.”


Haley grew up a religious household in Oregon (“my mother is Filipino and one of the most extroverted people you’ll ever meet, she throws parties every weekend … my dad is secluded and will be hanging out in a bedroom with the dog during those parties”) and began playing guitar at the age of eleven.


“I was just very eager to do something else,” she says, “something offered outside my school. It’s wild thinking that a decision you made when you were eleven dictates what could be the rest of your life, but I became very strong-willed through loving music, and through learning how to make songs of my own.” The first song she wrote was called Hagg Lake, inspired by a place where local teenagers would hang out.


don’t know what’s happening. I really don’t know what’s hap- pening,” says the magnetic and elusive new talent, Haley Heyn-


“You could do whatever you wanted at the lake, and no-one would know about it,” she says. “People walked these little trails so many times that grooves from everyone’s feet were in them. The song is about the feet making those trails.”


Small details left by life, often over- looked, are indeed the hallmarks of Haley’s songs: soured milk, insects prowling in the corner of a room, crumpled napkins. “Catharsis for me can be as tiny as some- thing that made your day, made an hour, made a moment; those tiny bits of growth that happen,” she says. “I can feel more OK with myself today, but maybe tomorrow is still hard.” Her voice is, by turns, poignant and joyful. On Untitled God Song, one of the year’s best tracks so far, Haley fantasises


about how God appears (“Maybe my god has a trot in her walk, and her coach bags are knockoff, her shoes are all dressed up…”) while meditating on how God spins her around, the deity’s power woven into the dark and sunlit minutiae of Haley’s life.


H


aley’s guitar playing, like her songs’ subject matters, is also uncommon. She perverts various tunings and techniques, absorb- ing and mutating the innovations of Leo Kottke, John Fahey, and early Sonic Youth alike. “For some reason, standard tuning doesn’t hit my ears right a lot of the time,” she says. “I want to take the time to medi- tate and find tunings that feel good. It gives me more opportunity to experiment with noises I don’t hear a lot. Trusting your intuition. I think to be able to trust yourself is a huge gift. I’m only twenty-something, and I think it takes a lifetime to build that trust.”


Actually recording the


album wasn’t an easy process – Haley tried to get it down twice before it actually clicked (“my ego was too attached to it,” she says, “it took the right mix- ture of people and timing”). It has found a home on the Port- land-based Mama Bird Record- ings, whose unusual yet beauti- fully understated roster includes Myriam Gendron and Faustina Masigat


“I needed to make music


to feel better,” Haley says, “and I would like to feel better. I am seeing a lot of the world right now … a huge amount of trav- el has happened in the last hundred days or so. There’s dirt under my fingernails and I can smell myself.” Touring is taking its toll: writing is hard on the road, she says. But it is allowing her to engage with her songs, and their ever-increasing audi- ences, in different ways. “The songs teach me new things every couple of weeks or so. I’m kind of shocked how they took form, what it’s like to perform them, and how people digest them,” she says.


“I’m still learning a lot from this album. You never reach this victorious hill at the end of it.”


haley-heynderickx.com F


Photo: Alessandra Leimer


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