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Explore the bookmarks of Haley Blais’ life through ‘Below the Salt’

On August 25, 2020, Vancouver’s Haley Blais released her debut full-length album, Below the Salt, through the new local, women-owned music label Tiny Kingdom. The album, produced by Louise Burns and Tennis, is a follow-up to her much-praised EP Let Yourself Go.

Haley has been DIY-ing it since 2014, turning out song after song of defiant scream-into-your-pillow bedroom pop anthems recorded in her actual bedroom. Haley speaks candidly of the journey that was the creation of Below the Salt, life in isolation, and the moments that made her realize music was for her.

Photography by Kyla Schnellert

 

Tell us about Below the Salt and the influences behind the album

This is my first album, so influences were plenty and chaotic. I think I got a lot out of my system in experimenting with different genres while recording – you’ll hear Carole King, or the Cranberries, or Liz Phair, Angel Olsen and more. Every song is a specific bookmark in my life.

 

 

 

Do you have any sweet anecdotes you can share while creating your album? We’d love to know about your experience working with Tennis!
I think I black out anything exciting because my brain can’t handle it, but working with Tennis was such a dream, they brought such a lightness to the songs that were originally darker and brooding.

 

How do you want people to feel when they hear your music?
Whatever emotion it compels them to feel. I love when I write a song that may mean something completely different to me than what someone else might interpret it as.

 

What drives your work?
Growth. Recording this album especially challenged me to subject my songs to critique, to change. I’m excited to take what I’ve learned and channel it into the next chapter.

 

How did young Haley know she wanted to pursue music?
5 years old, sitting on the stairs of my childhood home and torturing myself over a recent living room performance of “O Canada” and whether or not it could have been better. Nothing has changed.

 

Photography by Kyla Schnellert

 

What are your go-to road trip songs or albums?
Twin Peaks, Harry Nilsson, Warren Zevon… a lot of male energy on the road.

 

How are you staying creative at home?
Writing music and rearranging my living room every day.

 

What’s the best advice you’ve received that you’ve held close to your heart?

My friends and family know how to keep me in check better than I do myself, so there are countless tidbits I keep close to heart every day. The first one that comes to mind, though, is tequila with orange, not lime.

 

Haley will be performing live from the Fox Cabaret on September 13th at 5:00pm PST. Tune into the livestream via Haley’s Facebook page. Listen to Below the Salt  and follow Haley here.

Celebrate International Women’s Day at Let’s Hear It!


Mamarudegyal MTHC

On March 7th, Music BC and Cushy Entertainment are hosting a live showcase in celebration of International Women’s Day. The line-up features Turunesh, Mamarudegyal MTHC,  Missy D, DJ Denise and special guest host Tonye. This event is brought to us in part by Music BC’s Let’s Hear It! showcases.


Tonye

The showcase series offers a unique chance for artists to establish a sense of community by connecting with fans and members of the music industry through live performances and meaningful networking experiences. Let’s Hear It! champions the development of emerging artists and encourages inclusion and diversity in BC’s music industry.

 

 


Missy D (bottom left) Turunesh (top right)

Music BC is a non-profit society serving the British Columbia music industry by providing essential information, education, funding, advocacy, showcasing, and networking opportunities. Music BC is dedicated to developing the spirit, growth, and sustainability of the BC music community by supporting artists of all genres and music professionals throughout the industry.

Let’s Hear It! Live is supported by Creative BC and the Province of British Columbia, The Foundation Assisting Canadian Talent On Recordings (FACTOR) and the Government of Canada.

Purchase tickets here.

Rob Thomson, Music Curator, Full Circle

Rob Thomson has been playing music since 2003, yet music has been a part of his life since he was born. His dad’s a musician, his sister’s a musician, and music has always been in their house. 

As a teenager, Rob didn’t talk much with his dad, and so music became a way for them to connect. “I remember seeing him up on stage, this long-haired, Native dude playing guitar, and realizing, my dad’s pretty cool! I guess it was a natural progression to form a family band.”

Music has always been a way for Rob to connect with his heritage. Music helped him find bits and pieces of his culture, and it showed him that music could help tell a story. Rob believes that the story is growing. “When I started to play music, it was about myself. Then, it was about the people around me and my life experiences. Now that I’m in my 30s, with a daughter, I see now that it’s also about making a better world.”

When Rob first stepped into Full Circle more than ten years ago, it was as a performer. When the Olympics came to town, he had the opportunity to play in the house band at the Roundhouse Community Centre, in Vancouver. He was then asked to take on the role of music curator. He immediately connected with Creative BC to get some funding to do the kind of work he envisioned. “I had all of these ideas I wanted to do, and Creative BC helped make them a reality. I started to organize showcases and workshops, cultural training and outreach, all the while working on building relationships and collaborations. All of these things came together.”

When Rob first started teaching workshops, he wasn’t sure it was for him. “When I first started facilitating, it was the hardest thing I ever did. I was afraid I was inadequate. I was mostly self-taught, and was going into situations I knew nothing about.”

Rob now runs workshops around the province and beyond, providing resources, training, and best practices to Indigenous and non-Indigenous artists. For Rob, this path is one of constant learnings. He is always learning from his mentors who share with him what he did well and what he can do differently.

According to Rob, the best leaders are those who are compassionate and understanding while also holding people accountable. “When I lead a workshop, it’s a big balance of supporting people while also holding them responsible. I want to give people agency and then see what they can do.”

Rob believes the conversation around reconciliation has created a groundswell, as people are becoming more and more aware of Indigenous history and culture. “We are rich with artists and Indigenous music, people just didn’t know about us for many years. Now we have a studio space to create and to gather, and that’s been huge. We are starting to see the next wave in Indigenous music, built on the years and years of work that programmers and artists have done.”

In order to best support Indigenous artists, Rob believes we have to slow down. “We need time to develop healthy relationships, and that doesn’t happen overnight. Music connects all of us together, and can make us stronger. I didn’t realize that the work I do is community-based, that it’s grassroots, but it is. It’s the seed of development and a reflection of what’s going on in the world around us.”

Rob is a curator for Full Circle: First Nations Performance. They are hosting Talking Stick Festival from February 18-29.