(Photo Credit - Emily Oreste)
We got a chance to chat with up-and-coming artist Ha Vay for an Artist Spotlight feature. She just dropped a brand new single today titled "Levi Big Sky", so make sure you check that out here. But first, learn more about her in this interview!
1. How did you come to pursue music and how long have you been at it?
"My dad is a musician and music teacher, so I grew up playing music all my life. I started pursuing it more seriously when I was in high school, playing shows and putting out songs on SoundCloud and Tumblr with some traction, but then I took a break for almost four years. During that time I lived in Paris for two years (where I studied photography and filmmaking) and traveled around for another two years. This all filled me with a lot of creative inspiration and self-reflection, which I am referencing all the time now that I’m back into making music. I’m happy with this trajectory. The time I took to grow up really improved my approach to writing and performing."
2. Tell us about the writing and recording process for your new single “Levi Big Sky”.
"I wrote “Levi Big Sky” right before I left for a solo road trip through six states in the western U.S. and recorded a scratch guitar and vocal track before I left. I wanted a song to sing on the road, written in the theme of my travel destinations. It was written to celebrate my trip with a sense of humor: the bad boyfriend, “Levi” represents my desire for escapism. I filmed myself on my trip for the music video and finished recording the song with my audio engineer/co-producer, Elliott, and another collaborator, Martine. We weren’t recording with a full band at the time, so everything element is recorded one at a time with everything played by the three of us."
3. Could you walk us through your process of writing music?
"Over the years I’ve really discovered that my best songs flow out all at once, basically unedited. I can force myself to write a song anytime, but the easy ones have unbridled passion and creativity. So most often I end up writing just by singing to myself on a walk, in the car, or in the shower. Sometimes, in the case of “Levi Big Sky” I happen to have a guitar or piano near me, but in some cases I find the use of an instrument inhibiting because I start think too much, trying to make the melody match certain chords. The less I think, the better."
4. What artists have inspired you in your career?
"I really admire artists who create a whole little world through their work. I have big aspirations there, which I’m still figuring out how to achieve with my more limited resources. So given that, I’m inspired by artists like Madonna, David Bowie, Lady Gaga, Prince, Lana Del Rey, Grimes, and other artists who have taken on characters." 5. 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 not too big into gear, but when it comes to production, I love vocal layering. This is present in most of my songs. It brings a fullness to the music that makes the listener to feel like they’re inside their head, or even in a dream. I have a very busy mind and this invokes the ethereal and sometimes even conversational nature of my mind."
6. Can you describe the vibe at your live shows? Also, what do you enjoy most about a venue when you do a show?
"I just started Ha Vay last year in quarantine, so I’m still working on putting together and band/live act now that venues are opening up again, which is exciting! I’ve been performing for over a decade, though, and for me connecting with the audience is most important. I bring a lot of energy onstage, taking on characters for songs, dancing until I could collapse, and engaging with the audience however I can. I feel more comfortable onstage than I probably do just talking to people!"
7. What is one thing that you want the public to know about your music?
"Every detail is very intentional. Each song has a specific concept, character, setting, and message, and every lyric, production element, and even the vocal performance of each word is very important to me. Each detail should serve the song as best as I can manage. I take sort of a filmmaking approach to music in a certain sense."
8. What’s next for you?
"There’s a lot going on! My music team is growing and we’re working on another single to come out after “Levi Big Sky”. So there will be more music and videos to come, and preparing for live shows, as well. Beyond music I also run a sustainable clothing shop on Depop, which I’m always growing as well."