Haley Heynderickx is an expert at confessional songwriting. Turning her gaze inward, she recalls the delicate sounds of Joni Mitchell and Joan Baez, while crafting earworms that serve as therapy for the Portland-based singer-songwriter. With her debut album I Need To Start A Garden, Heynderickx analyses her own self-doubt and isolation, all the while trying to find confidence.
Premiering below alongside a conversation with Heynderickx is a video for one of the most poignant tracks on the record: "No Face." The track stemmed from the idea of a Miyazaki character in the film Spirited Away. Of the song, Heynderickx says, "'No Face’ represents a soul in no-man’s-land. The song is an odd ramble written after witnessing a bar fight in Portland based on racial discrimination. The question that started the fight was simply, ‘what race are you?’"
The visual is a simplistic, emotional portrait of energy around Heynderickx. "Haley and I wanted a silhouette for simplicity to compliment the song," says music video director Evan James Atwood. "Shooting it surrounded by these plants, the Palo Santo, and the energy...it came together naturally in one take. We both loved how we tapped into the heart of the song itself — capturing the emotion so strongly."
Watch the premiere of "No Face" below.
Q&A with Haley Heynderickx
How did you get into making music?
It was an accidental stumbling upon. My mother loved peer-pressuring me into doing karaoke at a young age. So I slowly got used to it. I've always loved music growing up so I never thought it would become more than a bedroom act.
How do you plan to use your platform for a bigger cause?
I want to do my best to write songs from a truthful place. I'm really inspired bt artists from the '60s and '70s who speak their truth. As a mixed race Filipino-American woman, there's a lens of life...I feel lucky. In pursuing a creative art you're able to capture a snapshot of life, so I'm going to do my best to capture a snapshot that feels honest of the life I'm living and seeing in my friends and communities.
When do you feel like you got your big break?
If you asked my parents, it's when I played at an open mic for the first time - just being brave enough to sing at all. That was the most shaking moment I found. That was a long time ago. Everything really. Let's cal lit today.
How did you decide on "Oom Sha La La" as the first single?
I was putting more faith in my label. I don't know how releasing music works - I just want to write songs. I don't know how sharing goes outside of playing hit shows. It was silly and fun and I think the album is a little more serious than that, but I know that parents with children like singing along to it which I think is really cute. A lot of babies can remember "Oom Sha La La." Maybe that's secretly the market I'm aiming for - I'm just trying to reach the babies.
Is the record conceptual or is each song meant to be anecdotal on its own?
The songs come from different chapters of life - I had no idea the connection theme would be garden imagery. I've had al ot of strong gardeners and strong women in my life. People who made me feel really grounded. The music had all these images in it and it became easier to call it what I was. My mom and my grandmother both have green thumbs. I Need To Start A Garden was a connecting thread through the imagery. You said you were influenced by '60s and '70s singers.
Who inspired you from back then?
Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell. Vashti Bunyan.
What was the songwriting process like for your debut album? A lot of the songs came out in chapters - in different lengths of time. Those were the ones that felt complete. I'm not good at measuring time sometimes. Some of these songs have lasted for years, and some of them were finished right before we were done. Maybe three or four years.
You didn't win the NPR Tiny Desk Contest but did that change things for you?
It gave me a new sense of confidence. That was the first time I was noticed outside of Portland. I remember all my friends were texting me being like "You're on this NPR blog!" It blows your mind. I did NPR's Tiny Desk Contest three years in a row, and then I got to meet Bob Boilen when he came into town and I got to play with Tank and the Bangas.
May 5 – Leeds, UK @ Holy Trinity Church (Live at Leeds)
May 6 – Reading, UK @ Rising Sun Arts Centre
May 8 – London, UK @ Oslo Hackney #
May 9 – Birmingham, UK @ Hare and Hounds #
May 10 – Glasgow, Scotland @ The Hug and Pint #
May 11 – Manchester, UK @ Soup Kitchen #
May 12 – Brighton, UK @ The Prince Albert #
May 14 – Dublin, Ireland @ East Side Tavern
May 15 – Dublin, Ireland @ Ruby Sessions
May 16 – London, UK @ The Islington
May 18 – Brighton, UK @ Unitarian Church (The Great Escape)
May 20 – Brussels, Belgium @ AB Salon
May 21 – Utrecht, Netherlands @ Molen de Ster
June 2 – Nelsonville, OH @ Nelsonville Music Festival
June 3 – Charleston, WV @ Mountain Stage
June 5 – Ann Arbor, MI @ Power Center *
June 6 – Bloomington, IN @ Castle Theater *
June 8 – Eau Claire, WI @ State Theatre *
June 9 – St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant *
June 10 – Louisville, KY @ Mercury Ballroom *
June 12 – Jersey City, NJ @ White Eagle Music Hall *
June 14 – Portland, ME @ State Theatre *
June 15 – Portsmouth, NH @ Prescott Park Arts Festival *
June 16 – Exeter, NH @ Word Barn
June 17 – Great Barrington, MA @ The Mahaiwe Theatre *
June 18 – Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
June 19 – Washington, DC @ DC9
June 20 – Brooklyn, NY @ Rough Trade
June 22 – Charlottesville, VA @ The Southern
June 23 – Nashville, TN @ The High Watt
June 26 – Austin, TX @ Cactus Café
June 27 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada
June 29 – Atlanta, GA @ Grocery on Home
July 5 – Roskilde, Denmark @ Roskilde Festival
July 10 – Louisville, KY @ Headliners Music Hall
July 11 – St. Louis, MO @ The Monocle
July 12 – Chicago, IL @ Martyrs’
July 14 – Guelph, ON @ Hillside Folk Festival
July 15 – Guelph, ON @ Hillside Folk Festival
August 3-5 – Happy Valley, OR @ Pickathon
# w/Nap Eyes
* w/ Ani DiFranco