Hayley Cannon is a London-based singer-song writer whose debut album, ‘Who Are You’, has wowed critics and music lovers alike. After the success of her album, Talk Nerdy With Us wanted to meet up with the lovely Hayley to find out some of the inspiration behind her album and what she was up to next.
Well, You’re album is fantastic and I love reading on Facebook about some of your stories behind some of your songs you have posted. I wanted to see if you have a favorite story behind one of your songs that you wanted to share?
Let’s think now. I think, probably, I would say my favorite is ‘Catherine’ in terms of the story that I wanted to get across. And there is a Facebook post about it and I can recap it for you. My great-grandmother was called Catherine, and I didn’t actually get to meet her. She passed away before I was born, but I have her old wedding ring that I wear, and that song was really inspired by that because I thought how strange to be wearing someone’s wedding ring, something so personal to them and yet I’ve never met her.
I’ll never meet her because she’s not alive anymore and the only stories I know of her are the stories that have passed down my family really. Ya, so the song ‘Catherine’ is about me imagining what her life was like and piecing together the stories that I’ve heard about her. So for example, she married twice which was a bit more controversial back in those days… so rightly or wrongly I kind of imagine her to be a bit of a feminist or trailblazer back in the day. I have a vision of what she must have been like.
Yes, I saw the pictures you posted on Facebook, she was very beautiful.
Aww, thank you.
One song I loved off your album is ‘Strangers’, but I am very excited about the upcoming video. Do you have a concept for the video you can share?
Ya, so it’s nearly ready actually. I’ve seen one edit of it! I was actually just with the director today working out the tweaks that we want and the concept is, we kept it very simple because we wanted to keep it as close to the lyrics as possible. So it’s the story of a couple who, in a nut shell, they are together as much as they are apart, so as strange it is for me, it is a song about how you can feel distant in a relationship as well as closeness. I really wanted to capture that with real life couples so we actually met a real live couple and filmed them, strangers.
I really didn’t want to use actors , I think it is so hard to recreate the true feelings with actors, I wanted to capture a real couple, so we filmed scenes with them together having a great time dancing, laughing. And then we also filmed them, obviously this was more staged, moments of them arguing and getting away from each other. They were a lovely couple, they were based down in Sussex in England. They had never been on camera before, they were very raw. Fresh talent if you like.
The photos you have posted in Facebook from the shoot are very beautiful!
Oh, ya, shots from the shoot days. It’s going to be quite a very naturalist video of the couple at least and then I am going to be on there playing the piano.
Oh great! Speaking of the piano, you are an exceptional pianist and violist as well. Do you play all the accompaniments for the violin and piano for all the songs on the album?
Ya I do.
Wow, that’s awesome. Now the album as a whole is so cohesive. It is kind of a surrender album where you could put on the LP and have it flip over and over and just listen to it non-stop. Did you have a concept for the album that drove the songs, or did the songs come first and just kind of fit together with the album?
Oh God, that’s a good question. No, I didn’t have a concept for it. I knew I wanted to write an album and I took myself off to France, actually, I have a friend there and I was doing some house sitting in the country side in France.
I didn’t know what I wanted to write and I didn’t know what was going to come out. A lot of the writing I had done before was always quite personal and auto-biographical, but I hadn’t really found anything I had written that I loved. It was only really when I went away to France, I don’t know if it was the time alone, but I really tapped into a lot of memories about people, family members, friends. I think it became even more hyper auto biographical. I think that is what happens when you spend a lot of time alone. Then when I got back to London I kept writing and everything suddenly kind of came out. It was all very kind of personal and they were all stories about , you know, myself really.
There wasn’t a concept, but there was definitely a theme. I think I was trying to make sense about different friends and relationships and identity comes up a lot on that album. It seems to come up over and over again. In the end, I went with that, I went with ‘Who are you’ as the lead song on the album . The name, I just thought it seemed really fitting, especially when I look back on it, if I am stretched to look to try and find the theme to see what it might be, I think it is a lot of searching for identity and making sense of who you are and the kind of relationships that you keep.
Ya, absolutely, I can definitely see that. Well your album has been incredibly well received and several news sources have really seemed to fall in love with this album, you have been on top ten lists across the UK, has there ever been a moment since releasing your album when you thought, “oh my gosh, I made it”?
You know it is so funny to hear that because I never really looked beyond making the album. I always, to be honest with you, felt like such an unlikely candidate, you know, to be writing an album, recording it, touting it about, it’s not something I always knew I was going to do. It’s kind of an ambition that grew later in life. So it was quite strange when I finished the album, I didn’t know what to do with it when I finished writing and recording it.
There was this big kind of void, what am I going to do with my self now? It took a long time to get it out there. So when I finally did put it out there, to get a good reception was a bit of a shock really. It was quite unexpected. I think the moment that made me think “Oh, you know I am so pleased I did this and I have not been completely deluded , you know, that people really do like this sort of music, that moment is when a British newspaper, The Guardian, named me the ‘one to watch’ and that just really gave me such motivation to keep pushing the album and keep writing music.
Before that, I can honestly say it was like a bit of a random thing to be doing. You always wonder, I think, with anything creative, I think, or anything that’s particularly competitive are people going to take you seriously? It’s been so nice to get praise for it.
Do you have any upcoming plans? Have you decided to set up a tour, are you looking at anything in the future?
So the first thing at the moment is my band. We are booking as many dates as possible in the UK to start off with. We have some gigs coming up in London. The first one is 23rd of January at the Strongroom in Shoreditch. This year is all about gigging the album, but it’s also going to be a time of writing for me. I’ve already starting working, writing more songs and going to be bring out more singles! I am really looking forward to bringing out more songs.