Syncopated drums. A unique blend of lyricism and melody. In her new release, Hailey Orion opens up, giving us a glimpse into her personal life. Coming off of the highly conceptual deadly. EP, Orion returns to us. "Whiskey" continues to break down the troubles that she’s left to discover solutions to on her own. Orion escapes through the motif of an alcoholic drink.
Back in March, we featured Haley Orion and her debut EP, deadly. Since, Orion has been living a life filled with coffee and pizza while sources new ideas, and writing in preparation for her next project.
What is your day job?
I work at a family owned coffee trailer as a barista! I’ve been a barista for a while, and I absolutely love coffee so it’s the perfect fit.
Do you consider yourself an artist or a songwriter?
I would consider myself a songwriter first and an artist second. Songwriting comes more naturally to me. I’ve written songs since I was little, and overall I really just enjoy writing as a hobby (I keep about 5 journals at a time...all for fun, and all for different topics). Obviously writing or song writing is an awesome artistic ability, but I interpret an artist as someone who can utilize all elements of art to influence people positively. Overtime I’ve realized that I like to sing and I’ve become more interested in attempting to make my own music, and I’ve taken more time to educate myself on the world around me. So I think right now I’m working towards, and challenging myself to be a true artist and not just someone who can write.
Where do you find yourself most creative? What is your ideal place to write?
I definitely find myself most creative amongst a lot of commotion. I grew up in a household with many siblings so I’m used to having to concentrate while being surrounded by chaos. In other words, writing in places that have a lot of movement or activities going on really inspires me. If I ever get stuck, or start trailing off, I love being able to look up and kind of just study the people or nature around me in order to refocus. Some favorite spots of mine are at the lake, or in a coffee shop, or even just in the car when I’m riding around with friends.
Did you see Kanye’s picture of the seven deadly sins he posted on his IG. Your entire EP tackles each one. How did you go about relating the concepts to real life in “deadly.”
Yes, one of my twitter friends actually showed me Kanye’s post! It was neat to see those ideas of morality capturing his attention. Okay, well one of my favorite things to do is look at biblical stories, theories, or analogies and kind of put a modern twist on it. When I first started “deadly.” I was going in a completely different direction with it. One of the first songs I finished writing was called “Gluttony." Then as I looked more at the other songs I was writing and just at the whole purpose of this EP, I realized that I was totally talking about the seven deadly sins. Although it is just a story in the bible, these sins are pretty easy to relate to. And they’re not just some obstacles we go through as individuals but also as an entire society. What started as me kind of wanting to get all these bad things out turned into me realizing that a lot of people struggle with the same “sins”. Once I made that realization, there wasn't an issue of relating these concepts to real life, it was more an issue of how can I show others we are all going through the same thing?
“Envy” is sparse in its use of instrumentation with an emotive use of autotune. Why this turn in the progression of your EP?
The EP travels through my experience with the seven deadly sins in the order that they entered into my life; therefore, “Envy” was placed in the middle, right where I realized it was time to grow up. Malik (a phenomenal artist) produced all of “deadly.” In the beginning stages of the EP he had some beats set aside for me but “Envy” was one song that didn't have a beat. One day I brought in what I had wrote and sang it for him and he said, “Just sing and record it exactly like that!”. So that’s what I did and it absolutely was the right thing to do with this song. Not using instruments stripped the song down to where I felt that the listener could focus on this young girl talking about all the things she never had. I felt without music it made the song more personal, and the statement more clear. The auto-tune was just as intentional. I wanted it to symbolize that even though this girl is envious of a life she never had, and that, that envy eventually causes her to feel different from others, she is still masking her own voice! She, like others, is trying to appear as someone she is not. Which is what we all do sometimes, especially in our youth!
Which of the seven deadly sins do you relate to? Which did you find most difficult to write about and how did you overcome the challenge?
At the time I wrote this project I definitely related to all of them. Each song fell into one of the following categories: my experience with a sin, my reflection upon that sin, or how that sin can be related to our own society. However, “Wrath” was the one song that contained all three categories, and in turn that made it the most difficult to write. I went from experiencing something terrible to realizing that almost every women I know has dealt with some form of sexual assault or harassment. The message that I needed to portray in “Wrath” was so important that I knew I was going to have to write it in such a particular, and purposeful way in order for people to truly listen to what I was saying. At the start of creating “Wrath” I was so angry (hence the name of the song) that I was all over the place in trying to write it. I remember one day I got so frustrated I just wrote something, recorded it, and was like “okay whatever it’s finished”. My anger blinded me and caused me to write a version of wrath that only hit the surface level of a problem that needed so much more attention. So how did I overcome the challenge? I let go of my wrath. I took a step back and asked myself, “How does this topic get addressed today?” I soon realized it doesn’t. Most of the time excuses get made, demeaning and degrading questions get asked, and nothing good ends up coming from it. That’s when I decided to write the song as a satirical dialogue of the very real conversations some people in our society have pertaining to sexual assault and how this contributes to rape culture. I began the song with an opening statement of how a lot of women are made to feel, and then continued the song with verses where common questions like “what did she look like” are asked. Then common answers like “she dressed slutty” are used as an excuse. I think at first I was trying to write “Wrath” as something that happened to me. Then I became aware that this is happening to a lot of women. I found that the purpose of “Wrath” wasn’t for me to get my last word in, but for me to try to help others see that we as a society have a very big issue on our hands, and something needs to be done about it.
Are there certain places that inspire the sounds or the content in your music?
I think the biggest missing piece I have when it comes to this artist thing is sound. I’m lucky I met Malik, he is incredibly talented, and we are both dead set on working with each other. I can just sit him down and talk to him about how I want a song to feel or even make noises and he knows exactly what to do. So he not only understands what I want and then produces something amazing, but he’s teaching me how to one day be able to do that on my own. As far as content goes, I always pull from the same places. Like I said, I love relating old biblical stories to modern life. From the story of Adam and Eve in the song “Lust”, to little hints of David and Goliath in “Greed”, and even pulling Mary Magdalene into “Wrath”, it is fun seeing how a theoretical past and our present can parallel. I feel that as humans we usually can only confidently speak of things that we have uniquely experienced, or at least we shouldn't speak on troubling topics that we aren't familiar with. For “deadly.” I pulled from my weird experience I have with religion, because to me it was a restriction on what I was allowed to do as a women. Religion came into my life at a very young age where I was wanting to be creative and grow but in my church that wasn't possible. So it has led me to question a lot of things to where I now have my own viewpoint that I like to play around with. But obviously not everything I create can be about religion. I guess a quicker answer would be that I usually pull from my own experiences (which I fortunately or unfortunately have a lot of), or if I don't know a lot about something I want to write about I go educate myself on it.
Have you ever fell victim to any of the devices of human folly you cover in your EP?
Oh all of them! That’s why I created “deadly.”, and if I had not experienced even one of those sins I would’ve made a completely different EP. However, I think it’s super important to not use the word “victim”. We are all responsible for our own actions, the consequences of those actions, and most importantly the reactions we choose to have towards things that are outside of our control. There is no situation in life where you should blame someone else, because if you truly look within and be honest with yourself, you are always the one in control. Understanding who we are and taking responsibility of the things we do is the true purpose of “deadly.”. That’s why I end the EP with the song “Pride”, where the last line says, “I have spoken my truth, now I ask will you?”.
Do you have trust issues?
I have trust issues with myself! For the longest time I wasn’t being honest with myself and what I knew was my sole purpose in life. For as long as I can remember I’ve known so deeply that my path in life would have something to do with music. However, my circumstances led me in a different direction. I’ve always been told what to do and what was expected from me, and I continuously obeyed those commands. Hardly any of my friends or family knew I was even interested in singing, and it was mostly because I NEVER showed that side of me. Creating “deadly.” was the turning point for me. It was when I decided I wasn’t going to hide who I was anymore and I wanted to start this “new me” with putting everything out on the table. No more secrets. Even though I did it to myself, and even though I’m working on it everyday, I still find myself doubting my abilities or questioning if I’m good enough. I hope one day I can rebuild that trust up inside of me again. And as far as other people, I am not quick to trust anyone I don’t know. I wouldn’t call that trust issues, maybe just call it being careful?
Do these get in the way when considering who to work with?
I think the biggest thing that gets in the way of me considering to work with other people, is that I think im not good enough. I’m so new to the music scene that I still have no idea what’s going on half the time. So besides the fact that I don’t trust in my own abilities, I also have to understand that it would be incredibly naive of me to believe everyone has good intentions. But I do have to reiterate once more that I have had a very good experience coming into music because of Malik. From recording for the first time, to filling me in on the industry side of things, or even just as simple as being my only supporter at times, he has taught me so much and has been an influential mentor on this journey. So I definitely have a high standard of how I should be treated when it comes to working with someone, but as of right now I'm really working on myself. I feel like I would need to grow a lot more before I decide to branch out to other people. I don't want me being uncertain of my abilities to affect others that I could potentially work with.
What do you have planned for the remainder of the year?
As of right now I am working on a full length album. I’ve written the entire thing and have slowly been recording and figuring out stuff along the way. I really want to take my time with this album so I’ve also been working on some singles to put out in the meantime. I usually get too eager and want to put something out before its fully ready, but I’ve been working on a new single these last couple of weeks and should have it out on soundcloud pretty soon. Honestly I’m just taking it slow and trying to make everything perfect. I learn new things about my voice everyday, or how to structure my songs better, and I’ve even been participating more in the production of this album. Now that “deadly.” is out and all the negativity is out of my life, I want to focus on having fun and discovering where my place is at in the music world. So let’s call it the year of growth.
Any collaborations in the works?
I really want to focus on myself in this album, so besides working with Malik on production and all that stuff it will probably just be me. I can’t say that with full certainty because there are people that I’m interested in working with, but I would just have to get over the fear of asking. Oh and also I plan on trying to write with other people. Obviously not for this project, but just to expand my skill set, meet new people, and learn new perspectives,
What does Hailey Orion like to do when she's not writing music just for casual fun?
This was a hard question to answer because...I write music for fun! I am always working or going to school and music is usually put on the backburner, so any free time I do get I write, or record. Besides that I feel pretty boring. I’m really into health, and working out, and attempting to do yoga. I love being outside, hanging out with my friends, and visiting my family. Right now I’m in inspiration mode because of this album I’m working on so I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries and reading books for research. Just normal stuff.
How would you describe yourself? Would you describe yourself as complex or simple?
With other people I am super simple and straightforward. I like to hangout, have fun, and just be what that person needs me to be at the moment. I like to save the complexity for myself. I’m not saying this in a cheesy, angsty, “I’m cool” kind of way but I really do enjoy being alone over being with a lot of people. I mentioned that I have a big family so I definitely appreciated my alone time as a kid and still do to this day. When I’m alone I can be myself. I’m non-stop humming, over thinking, over analyzing, tapping out beats with my hands on every countertop in my apartment, and I constantly have wild thoughts looping in my head. It took me a while, but I understand now that very few people care about what’s dancing around in your skull, and even though I think that my thoughts are the greatest thoughts ever (slight sarcasm), I can comprehend that not everyone feels the same. I am the only one who will love myself the way I deserve to be loved. And because of that self-love, I value the complex shit in my head more than anything else in this world. Thoughts are powerful, so instead of directly telling people my thoughts, I choose to release them into my songs so others can choose to listen and interpret it how they want to, or just choose to not listen at all."
Listen to Hailey Orion in "Whiskey" below.