Behind the Music: Interview with Haley Harkin

‘Sharing my heart and soul through music has awakened parts of me I didn’t know existed.’

Following the arrival of her beautiful album ‘To heal her’, I chatted with Colorado based folk artist Haley Harkin to discover more about the release, the intimate sound we hear on it, and what her plans are for 2022.

Hi Haley, thanks for chatting with Listen to Discover, please introduce yourself to your future fans.
Hello! I am originally from Austin, Texas but moved to Fort Collins, Colorado in May. I create folk music for healing and connection.

Which artists are your main musical inspirations?
Rising Appalachia, The Avett Brothers, Jose Gonzalez and Trevor Hall to name a few.

Who is involved creating and performing your music?
I mostly perform solo but sometimes I get lucky and have my friends join me. The recording process I do myself too and on certain songs I have other musicians join me such as Shiloh Travis and Marcelo Bernardes. Matt Meli did the mixing of the album and Kevin Butler did the mastering.

So when did you first realise song writing would be a part of your life?
About 5 years ago. I never considered myself a songwriter before then.

Turning to your gorgeous new album ‘To heal her’, what is the story behind the title and the release?
This album is part one of two. Part one being ‘To heal her’, as in myself. This album is about my inward journey and healing parts of myself over the past three to four years.  Part two will be ‘To heal her too’, which will be based on the outward experience – on being of service, healing the world.

There’s a wonderful sense of intimacy and vulnerability to the sound we experience on the release. How important was it to you that this came across?
It was very important as my preferred way to share music is in this intimate way. I really wanted that to come through in the album as if I were whispering in your ear.

So with the album being centred on self-discovery, which tracks do you feel reflect where you were personally at the start of the writing process and where you are now?
‘Searching for me’ being at the beginning as I believe that is the oldest song in the collection, and ‘I am’ being where I’m at now.

‘I really wanted a sense of intimacy to come through in the album.’

On your previous single, ‘I Believe in Magic’, clarinet plays a key role in the track. What led to the more selective, but just as beautiful use of winds within the new album?
Marcelo is a dear friend and amazing musician. ‘I believe in magic’ is a really playful song, more chaotic, but in a good way. I don’t put any limitations on his creativity and fully trust what he is going to add because of his talent and the amount we’ve played together. All of his wind instrumentation you hear was what he recorded without editing and we went with that!

Reflecting on the recording proces, what was the standout moment and why was it so special?
When I recorded the opening track ‘All things grow’. That was the first track I recorded and I was really impressed with myself! I remember thinking, ‘Oh I don’t need to hire anybody, I am fully capable of creating what I want to create.’

And linked with this, how did you ensure that the release carried such an authentic folk atmosphere?
I moved to the mountains haha! But really I just follow my intuition and try to be an ‘instrument’ for what wants to come through.

Other than providing a creative outlet, how has music impacted your life?
It has changed me so much! Over the years of sharing my heart and soul it has liberated and awakened parts of me I didn’t know existed. It has brought so much joy and fulfillment into my life and I get to know myself better through my songs.

If you could perform your music anywhere and for anyone, what would the setting be like and who would be in the audience?
Probably in the mountains of Colorado, maybe The Red Rocks/Mishawaka or a beautiful fine arts centre with a really intimate vibe. All my friends and artists that have inspired me like Yaima, Trevor Hall, etc would be there.

And finally, what are your musical plans for 2022?
I would love to play festivals and shows around the United States and finish recording part two of ‘To heal her’.

Thanks Haley Harkin for chatting with Listen to Discover
Photography Credit: Rodney Hughes

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