When you are writing music, what comes first, the music or the lyrics?
For me it’s usually the music. I like to play around with my pedal board and create a really interesting tone or sit down at the wurlitzer or piano, then l let that steer me in the direction of what the song will be about lyrically, kind of making up words and improvising melodies over the chords. Then those strange sounds start to shape into actual lyrical phrases.
What is the inspiration and aspirations behind the latest single release?
The inspiration behind the single “Bright City Lights” is a bit political and feminist. I know a lot of musicians and songwriters have been moved by the current political and social climate, and I was eager to write my own take on how all these things are making me feel. “Bright City Lights” is about not assuming anything about someone based on where they are from or their sex, that it is important for everyone to have their own kind of feminism, and for people to speak out about politics in their own way.
Can you tell us about the upcoming record? How did the concept come to life?
The upcoming record is a 7 song EP. The songs were written over the course of a few months, and were all written by me. I had been on tour for most of 2015 and 2016 playing keys and guitar for a mainstream pop artist. While it was a lot of fun and a great experience, it wasn’t the music that was truest to my heart. So when I get off tour, I spent a lot of time digging around for new, inspiring music. I found a lot of great songwriters that helped give life to my songwriting again, including The Staves, David Ramirez, and Lisa Leblanc. Conceptually I tried to write songs that really spoke to the emotions of being a touring, female musician- traveling, being away from loved ones, my eagerness to continue making music no matter what, and of course politics and a bit of feminism.
What is the ultimate inspiration when penning the tracks, especially on the new record?
The songs are about a variety of things, including one inspired by the late, great Sharon Jones, called “This Time Around”. I had watched an incredible documentary about her struggle with cancer, and how she made music and toured right up until the end. The song is about a fictional character’s battle with death coming for them on their way to a gig. There is also another tune on the record called “You and I” that’s about dealing with the loss of my grandfather a few years ago. The last song I wrote for the record called “57 Chevy” is about growing up on the road, and not feeling like I’ve aged one bit! I think the road keeps you young, and this song talks about my desire to not let time catch up with me, but also to not let things pass me by that are supposed to happen at certain points in my life.
Do you produce and record your own records, or do you head into the studio?
Our first record that we tracked in 2012 was co-produced by myself and my bass player Chris Anderson. It was a great learning experience, but also a lot of responsibility to be recording and producing at the same time. For our new record, we decided to work with producer Don Dilego (Hollis Brown, Jessie Malin). He really understood the sound we were going for, and hooked us up with Atomic Sound, an incredible studio space in Brooklyn, NY. We tracked the record to 2” tape, through a vintage Neve console, with a lot of incredible vintage gear.
What are your key musical goals for the end of the year?
I’m really excited to be releasing the record in April of this year, and I’ll be heading back out on tour with my bass player Chris Anderson opening for Martin Sexton on his winter tour in February and March. So my goals for the year are really just to keep getting my new music out into the world, and keep playing more shows all over, hopefully a bunch with the full band.
Watch Rebecca Haviland's video for "Bright City Lights" here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=exArhLC0Igw
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