When Canadian teenager Hayley Richman began posting covers on her YouTube channel a few years ago, she couldn’t have anticipated the reaction she would get and the opportunities afforded her. Teaming up with her father to produce and play instruments for her vocals, Hayley’s success as a YouTube cover artist took off. Since then, she has scored thousands of subscribers, millions of video views, and begun creating her own original tunes. Most recently, she has collaborated with Staten Island based label SoundEvolution Music to put out a 7″ vinyl of two original tracks, “Take My Soul” and “Marionette,” via Third Man Pressing. With a haunting voice and eerie production, Hayley is developing her own distinct genre.
On “Take My Soul,” a ringing swell of dark instrumentation vibrates insistently until Hayley’s breathy vocals creep in nearly a minute later. Throughout the track, she croons intense, poignant lyrics like “I’ve harbored the pain of my ungrounded fears / So follow me down to that hallowed ground” atop twinkles of pulsing percussion. The song moves slowly and lingers with in-your-face Fiona Apple-esque emotion, weighed down with a somber tone that lends to its exquisitely sinister melodies.
The first few seconds of “Marionette” are the sound of a broken down carousel moving on its own in a graveyard. Quickly, though, deep bluesy rumbles give color to the song, as Hayley’s voice comes in with a matured, soulful quality to it. Despite the brooding, dizzying classic rock rhythms in the background, the track is animated by a dynamic vocal performance that switches between a mere whisper and stretches of alto perfection. All together, “Marionette” is a gorgeous gem of captivating, carefully crafted production.
Hayley Richman is special. The young singer-songwriter has a serious gift for pumping her music with raw honesty, inimitable creativity, vocal variety, and meticulous instrumental arrangements. Together, these elements unite for a spellbinding sonic experience.
Read our exclusive Buzz Artist interview with Hayley Richman right here:
Buzz Artist: First, can you tell Buzz Artist a little about yourself and your music?
Hayley Richman: I’m 18 years old and living in Montreal. I started making videos with my dad (who plays and programs all the music for my songs) when I was about 14 but never expected anyone to actually watch them — four years later I have 70,000 people following me and millions of views on my covers and originals on YouTube, much to my surprise.
BA: What is the music scene like in Montreal and how has it influenced your music?
HR: To be honest, most of what I’ve been doing so far has taken place online, which is a funny thing but speaks volumes on today’s music world. I’m only just starting to venture into my local community of musicians and meet people who share the passion. But it’s always been great to live in a city that plenty of great artists come to play in and which hosts some of the most popular music festivals in the world.
BA: You have a huge YouTube presence and a well-deserved following. What do you like about performing covers vs. penning original tracks?
HR: The covers were what I started with and helped me in so many ways to grow and find my own artistry. I’m a fan first, like everyone else, so it’s really fun for me to lend my voice to my favourite songs. However, the originals are definitely where my heart is — it’s so rewarding to put all of yourself into something and then just throw it out into the world and await a public reaction. And of course as I get older and grow into myself the originals are really what I want to focus on.
BA: How do you think social media has impacted your experience as a musician?
HR: Social media is demonized by many, but it’s such a great thing for new artists. To be able to control your own image and put out whatever you want allows musicians to be a lot more independent than before when you had to be signed to have your music heard. It’s been everything for me and granted me so many cool opportunities, so I really can’t say anything negative about it.
BA: What was the production process like for the singles you’ve released in the last few years?
HR: My father and I collaborate on our original songs, but the process is different with all of them. Some start with a little demo I make on my laptop and then are filled out and rearranged by my dad, some begin with music that I lay vocal lines on top of, sometimes neither of those. We do everything ourselves on an iMac; recording, mixing, mastering, etc. so they’re almost like really thought-out and somewhat polished demos at this point.
BA: Where do you get your songwriting inspiration from?
HR: I think a lot and write constantly, so a lot of piecing together of old things I scrawled in notebooks is done during the writing process. My dad is a great lyricist as well, so I’m really happy to have him heavily involved with that. It’s weird because almost all of the songs have sort of played out in my personal life in really big ways months after they’ve been released, thematically.
BA: Who are your biggest inspirations, both musically and personally?
HR: I love Radiohead, U2, Jeff Buckley, Fiona Apple, Lana Del Rey, trip-hoppy stuff like Massive Attack, but so many more have had a really deep impact on me. I’m really inspired by people who bare themselves wholeheartedly in their music and are authentic. I think you can tell when something is disingenuous and I guess that’s the only “bad” music out there. My dad also inspires me as a musician and as my kindred spirit.
BA: What are the advantages and disadvantages of being a young woman in the music industry today?
HR: I haven’t experienced a lot of the stories I hear about the business and what it’s like to be a woman in music as most of my work has been independent. That’s definitely one benefit though — I’m pretty much my own boss which is a massive power the internet provides us with. I don’t answer to anyone or compromise my morals or artistry for someone higher up than me, which I thank social media for.
BA: If you could release a collaboration album with 5 artists (living or dead), who would you be inviting to jam in the studio with you?
HR: Great question… I’d say Bono for his raw desperate vocals, Jonny Greenwood for some beautiful orchestration, Mike Scott from The Waterboys for his lyrics, Robert Del Naja from Massive Attack for some dark beats, and Danny Elfman to add his signature quirky cinematic touch. But I’d be too starstruck for anything to actually get recorded.
Buzz Artist: Finally, what’s next for you?
Hayley Richman: Other than continuing with my channel and putting out plenty of new original tracks, I’m putting out a 7” vinyl with a new label [SoundEvolution Music, led by label owner Rob Janicke] out of New York featuring two of my old tracks remastered and remixed. Really excited about that — it’s my first physical release and since I designed it as well, it’s really personal. So hopefully cool opportunities continue to stumble my way as I document the process on all my sites online. I’d also love to set up a string of live shows and am in the process of putting a live band together.