Revisiting Haley Heynderickx, The Underrated Musician Behind The Bug Collector

For an artist, any moment thought or emotion can commence a creative fire in them, which either on the go or after several trials get pieced together into a song. As for Haley, the stimulating ingredient to fire up her artistic drive for the album I Need to Start a Garden was the enigma of vulnerability and expression.

Haley performing for Tiny Desk ( Source: YouTube )

Human emotions are not simple at all and we often find ourselves bouncing between two opposing beliefs. Heynderickx’s songs are just like that- maybe not in terms of contradicting beliefs but entrenched in the emotional state that people find themselves in, with one emotion overpowering the other. Take for example two of Haley’s songs on the album- No Face and Jo. In her own words about the songs,

It’s about trying to love people as kindly as you can… or else you will end up like the character No Face from Miyazaki’s film Spirited Away.

On the Contrary, Jo paints an entirely different picture in the listeners’ minds. The song, which she dedicated to her favorite gardener, Joan, carries the spirit of benevolence and inclusiveness.

This song’s name is ‘Jo’ and it’s about the best gardener I ever knew.

Haley performs Jo ( Source: YouTube )

Heynderick’s intricate selection of subject matters when it comes to songwriting is evident with many other songs on the album. To show you what I mean, her song The Bug Collector uses bugs as metaphors to illustrate insecurities that crawl in every single day in our lives.

The centipede and the praying mantis represent a few of those insecurities that are right there- they won’t go away. Even if you throw one out of the window, the other is waiting for you in the bathtub. They don’t leave you alone because you carry them with you wherever you go. These fears are due to the walls we build around ourselves.

This track is just freakin beautiful

Haley is a proficient lyricist, but her musicianship is not something to turn a deaf ear to. She does an exceptional job of gluing those two together. In this song, her influences re-echo through the line cliche at the intro of the song followed by soulful singing and spot-on harmonizations panned on both ears adding space to the mix.

The reverb makes it even more spacious while the bass and drone instruments do their thing without getting in the way of her soft singing and beautiful nylon-string sounds.

Music Career In Portland, Influences And Love For Songwriting

Having not only Filipino roots but multiple cultural identities, the songwriter made her way up with humble beginnings in a religious household in Oregon. Her musical journey kickstarted after familiarizing herself with the music scene in Portland, where she got involved in Girlfest as well. 

Haley’s mother is from the Philippines ( Source: Instagram )

She is proud of the female singer/songwriter community in Portland and that definitely pushed her towards taking up the profession. Music not only was her comfort place but also a way of getting her voice heard and what she expresses through her songs is not only about her but also about the other people she gets to know.

I had a funny sense of isolation growing up, and music was my comfort.

One day, she dreamed that she was a female version of the Guitar God Jimi Hendrix. Of course, after that, she picked up the guitar. What would you expect? Hendrix has that effect on people and it definitely ignited her passion for the instrument. Besides Jimi, she got to listen to lots of songwriters through her parents, who opened the world of The Beatles and many other artists who excelled at compositions, and her musical mind was bound to pick it up.

She explored the instrument under the mentorship of a bluegrass guitar instructor named Steve Blanchard. The singer is deeply involved in the writing process and her love for fingerstyle guitar is well incorporated into her songs.

Haley covered Bob Dylan’s It Ain’t Me back in 2013 ( Source: YouTube )

Haley is a sucker for words. There is no one predefined way of writing great songs and she understands that. The song might come from an emotional place, sometimes from a momentary inspiration after hearing a certain tune. As far as Haley is concerned, it’s all of these, but mostly emerging with her love for words, and if she were bad at it, then she would take the time to expand upon her love for jazz music.

Untitled God Song Is About Racial Inequality

Besides personal and introverted subject matters, Haley, through her skill of writing, has also unfolded the deeply rooted racism in society through the song Untitled God, however difficult it may be to write songs on social issues

This song came about after she heard on the media the news of young men of colour being victims of violence. The unfortunate cases of police violence towards people of colour are still rampant in the United States.  According to a new study, people of colour in the United States have more years taken away from their lives due to police violence compared to white people.

The Native Americans, Black Americans and Hispanic Americans, in that order, were disproportionately the victims of fatal police violence according to the data that researchers drew on data from The Counted, a 2015-2016 award-winning Guardian investigation into police killings.

The situation hasn’t gotten any better, as even in the year 2021, there have been many cases of violence towards people of colour.

Haley Strongly Suggests Not To Date Your Band Member

The singer has shared some tips with musicians through her experiences with recording and touring. Haley recommends that you incorporate professionalism when it comes to working with producers and the band rather than taking it personally when critiqued about the work. 

After all, it is through trial and error that a refined outcome is possible. That challenge of having to come up with something better elevates the creative as well as the technical skills of an artist in so many ways. In fact, Haley herself successfully recorded the album only on her third attempt

The result was more maturity and depth in her songs, as they got a chance to go through several improvements throughout the process, and it ultimately worked out well for her in the end. If you’re a musician, what you can make out of this is that maybe you should be a little more patient with your songs as well, and as long as you’re satisfied with the outcome, you’re good to go. 

The relationship with the people you work with is something you can’t overlook and she can’t emphasize more on that, especially with not dating the bandmate part. The same can be seen with Elena Tonra from the band Daughter, who after already having lived that experience, shed a light on how dating a bandmate gets in the way of songwriting.

At the same time, understanding the needs of your coworkers and bandmates is crucial to keep the longevity of the band and a healthy work relationship that is free of antagonism and frustration, especially during the hectic and tiring schedules of tours.

Haley Heynderickx New Album, Tour Dates

Although the songwriter hasn’t released any new music in recent years, she is actively performing across the states with her Yamaha classical guitar by her side.

Also, it seems she won’t be coming up with songs anytime sooner since Haley is all booked to perform alongside the band Punch Brothers.

Yup, fans of Haley are in for a treat after Christmas since she’ll be touring in 2021 across states ranging from Seattle to Portland, her current place of residence.

2022 tour announcement by Haley ( Source: Instagram )

For now, listeners can support this beautiful and ethereal artist by buying her merch at her Bandcamp. You won’t find the merch at Hayley’s official website but her Bandcamp page is filled with amazing merch including the Vinyl of ‘I Need To Start A Garden, the album our team members at MagzMandala are obsessed with.

And guess what? one of our team members ( we won’t name him) teared up listening to The Bug Collector, so give this beautiful track a try if you haven’t already.

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Sandesh K.C
A musician in the making specializing in songwriting and musical composition. Recent Engineering graduate and music writer trying best to keep the spark for my passion alive.
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