(Photo Credit: Bob Williams)
We had an opportunity to speak with alternative jazz singer/songwriter Halie Loren, who's combination of visual artistry and musicianship create a unique combination. Loren's music often features fantastic vocal work with poignant melodies that can incorporate humor, such as on her track "How to Dismantle a Life". Check out our interview with her below!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"Music, and particularly singing, was a part of my daily life for as long as I can remember. I’ve always felt like it was a big part of who I am — even when I was a child. The love of song, of making musical sound, was what drew me toward committing myself to music in a serious way at a pretty young age. I started performing when I was 10, and began playing professional gigs by age 14. I also began writing songs around that age. I’m almost into my third decade of my music career at this point!"
2. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"In my first several years as a songwriter, I would always start with a lyrical idea, or even a full song’s worth of lyrics, and then turn my attention toward melody and chords. For the past decade-plus, I’ve been far more likely to begin with melodic concepts, which often arrive either before or simultaneously with a lyrical concept surrounding the idea of a story or a feeling I’m inspired in that moment to encapsulate. Sometimes I’m sitting at the piano when this happens, and can work out the melody to chord progressions on the spot, but most of the time it happens when I’m on a walk or driving my car or doing something else completely unrelated to sitting with an instrument. These are the moments when I’m extremely grateful for smartphones, since I can just reach into my pocket and bring up the voice recorder app on my phone. Sometimes I’ll find recordings of melodies or even half-finished songs from YEARS ago on my phone or my mini-recorder, and will be inspired to try to bring it to completion… this “start/stop/start-again-years-later-and-finish-the-song” approach has been the case with so many of the songs I now sing live or have recorded on one of my albums."
3. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"When I was just beginning to perform, I found a lot of inspiration in other vocalists’s tones or phrasing, which I listened to and absorbed into my own musical lexicon… a lot of old-school artists like Patsy Cline, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, and albums that came out in the 90’s by artists like Diana Krall, Toni Braxton, and Annie Lennox, just to name a few. As I matured into my career, I began to pay attention to a lot of other factors in artistry, which informed my musical perspective and my career trajectory just as much if not more: originality, authenticity, emotional complexity, songwriting skill… artists like Sarah McLachlan, Paula Cole, and Tori Amos inspired me to take piano playing more seriously and to write songs at the instrument. Artists like Feist, Melody Gardot, and Sufjan Stevens have inspired me to continue to seek the subtle edges of musicality — they are all very different with their approaches, but all express the hushed side of music making in such a lovely way. Others, like Regina Spektor, Fiona Apple, and Joni Mitchell, have inspired me to play and take more chances musically - to dig into my own personality quirks and unique perspectives, regardless of how “universally relatable” they might feel, and bring them to my musical table."
4. Do you have any favorite music gear (guitars, amps, effects pedals, keyboards, etc.) that you love to use? If so, what’s the story on them?
"I’m such a Luddite when it comes to instrumentation… my preference is to make music on an acoustic piano, or a real Rhodes or Wurlitzer, or my little soprano ukulele. In the last couple of years, I have gotten into using a vocal effects processor (I use the TC Electronics VoiceTouch Live 2 currently) at some shows, mostly the performances I do with an acoustic pop group I’m part of called halie and the moon, which depends on having vocal layers or sonic effects on some songs. Since the release of my new album “From the Wild Sky” this year, which also involves quite a bit of vocal layering and textural additions on some of the tunes, I’ve included this processor at some of my jazzier shows as well."
5. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I take a lot of care in creating set lists that have a lot of mood variety but also a lot of flow… from fun and sassy to romantic and sentimental to dark and moody to uplifting and poignant, all in one set. I see it almost like topography when I’m creating a show, ushering the band and the audience on a journey that traverses from the peaks to valleys, through mysterious forests and down some languid rivers… sometimes quite literally, as there are a lot of nature references in many of the songs I write or choose to cover!
Above all else, I feel like my role as a performer, when I’m at my best, is that of a storyteller. Oddly, I’m more on the shy side in many ways, and public speaking is one of those arenas, so I don’t always feel bold enough to tell stories on the stage, but I’m always telling a story — with my voice and my body language — when I’m in a song."
6. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"My music crosses a lot of genre-lines, in that it includes inspiration from jazz, soul, blues, folk, pop, and a lot of other musical corners… though I’m often described as a “jazz singer”, my primary definition for my music is singer-songwriter, as the songs I write and perform are inspired by many different musical traditions, but even the songs I don’t write are ones I have a personal connection to and put my own spin on. Authenticity is the most important element for me when creating music, and that’s the descriptor a lot of my fans have used to describe what I do, which means a lot to me."
7. Do you have any upcoming projects you would like fans to know about?
"I just released a new album in April called “From the Wild Sky”, which features all original songs (except the last track, which is a cover of “A Mi Manera”). I recorded it in London and New York with U.K.-based producer Troy Miller, and I’m so very proud of the work we’ve done with this album. I’d love for it to reach as many people around the world who might resonate with it.
Though my attention is turned toward my latest album currently, and the tours surrounding this release, I’ll be working toward new music, both solo and with my other band project halie and the moon, sometime in 2019. I love the studio process too much to stay away for very long!"