"I have no manager or record label, so for Maren to ask me out on tour is such a big deal for me" We chat with Hailey Whitters
Following her under the radar debut album in 2015, Black Sheep, Hailey Whitters didn't release any new music until new single 'Ten Year Town' a couple of months back. Having written with some cracking writers for her new album, due somewhere down the road in 2019 (hopefully) we thought it was time to catch up with Hailey and find out what she's been up to.
Hey Hailey, how the heck are you?
I am great!
What have you been up to today, and where are you right now?
Just waking up! Getting caffeinated at my house in East Nashville.
So, tell us a bit about you, when was the first time you remember singing or playing music?
The first memory I have of singing was just around the house for fun... I started taking guitar lessons at 15 and that’s when I began learning how to write songs.
What was the point you thought this might turn into a “thing”?
Um… I don’t know if I’ve hit it yet! Haha. I’m just having fun with it and pretty surprised and honored to find my songs resonating with other people.
And what do you do for fun?
I like to hike, sit in my backyard with my chickens, get a beer at Wilburn St. Tavern.
You’ve released some new music recently, I love ‘Ten Year Town’, it’s such a clever lyric. What can you tell me about that song?
I wrote that song two years ago when I was coming up on a decade of being in Nashville… I threw out the title to a few different co-writers, and a lot already had a song like that… so it was pretty magical that it landed with Brandy. I know she’s been in town for a while and faced similar frustrations so I think it was just the right moment waiting to happen. The writing of it was therapy for me… I knew it was special the day we finished it.
You mention Brandy, that's Brandy Clark right? How did that come about?
Yes it is! It was actually our first write together. I’d been a fan of her records and had wanted to write with her for a while.
You also released ‘The Days’ a couple of weeks ago, what’s the story to that song?
I wrote that with Hillary Lindsey and Ben West… Hillary’s parents were in the midst of selling their childhood home and we just started talking about life... I’ve often struggled with being nine hours away from my family and feeling like I’m missing out on a lot of the milestones that take place back in Iowa with my family and friends. We wrote this song about making the most of the time that we have and making an effort to show up for the people you love for both the big and little things.
You’ve a new album on the horizon, what can you tell me about it?
It feels special. The concept of the record is just simply where I’m at in life right now. It feels very personal and about my love affair with Nashville the past twelve years. I produced it with Jake Gear and actually went back to waiting tables in order to fund it. Since we were doing it ourselves, we were able to escape any outside pressure and just create something we believed in.
And, as I’m uber-excited, when can we expect it?
There’s a lot of exciting wheels in motion right now, so we’re still TBD on the date.
You’ve written with some fantastic songwriters for the album, how does the process change depending on who you’re writing with?
It just varies! Luckily this record was all written with friends who I feel very close with. So there was nothing awkward or intimidating about the writing process - we could just have fun with it and dive right in.
What’s the key to writing a damn good song?
Being honest. To me, it’s so much easier to tell the truth than to make something up.
You’re playing some shows with Maren Morris, how much fun will that be? Or are you nervous?
I am so excited! I have no manager or record label, so for Maren to ask me out is such a big deal for me. I’m so honored to get to share the bill and learn from her performance every night.
Obviously there’s a lot of talk about equality in general at the moment, what’s your experience of being treated differently as a woman in your industry?
To my knowledge, I can’t say that I’ve specifically experienced any discrimination. However more broad-stroke, my gender has been brought up in nearly every business conversation I’ve had recently and that’s a bummer.
Have you noticed a difference at all in the last 12 or so months?
People are much more vocal about the issue - which is great. I think in order for change to come about we need to be talking about it and addressing the issue.
I read your interview with Rolling Stone, do you think it’s harder for women to get noticed by “mainstream” Nashville than men?
It does seem that way right now.
And does it matter? I ask that as people like Brandi Carlile and Kacey Musgraves have huge success without any radio play. Though it has taken them a lot of hard work to get there.
To me it’s about finding your fans. Kacey and Brandi are great examples of that - they’ve found ways outside of traditional formats to still reach people and have huge careers. It’s very inspiring.
Who inspires you?
Right now, I am so inspired by women in music. I feel there is some GREAT music being made by women and I’m so inspired by their approach to the business. It’s a harder battle for them right now, but they’re thinking outside the box and powering through the bullshit to get their voices heard.
What kind of music do you listen to in your spare time?
All kinds! Gillian Welch’s Time, The Revelator is one of my go-to's. Also, really loving Maren and Kacey's new records. I’ve made a goal to try and get through Dolly’s whole catalog front to back - it’s taking me a while, but so fascinating to hear.
If you could recommend one artist to hear this week, who would it be?
My buddy Caroline Spence has just released a new record and she is fantastic.
What’s the question we should have asked you today but haven’t?
I’m a 4 on the enneagram ;)
Finally, how do you take your coffee?
Thanks so much Hailey, honestly love the new music, can’t wait to hear the record.
Thank you so much! Great questions.. thanks for chatting with me. Xo.
If you want to find out more information about Hailey you can visit her website. Or you can check out her socials.