Interview – Hayley Mary of The Jezabels – Reinventing Pop

February 2014 Vandala Magazine
Interview and Story by Lana Nimmons
I sat down with Hayley Mary from the Jezabels where we talk about her career as a vocalist and it's burdens, how they're fresh off tour with the Pixies and Depeche Mode, and their new album The Brink. Things got a little deep when we started to pinpoint their transition from "indie" to pop, and what makes a good pop artist. The Brink, the first and title track of The Jezabels' second album, revisits the glorious mystery of rock'n'roll redemption: the thrilling loss of innocence to a power that never wanes from one teenaged generation to the next. But the solid two years of touring at home and overseas certainly played a part in the abyss that welcomed Hayley, guitarist Sam Lockwood, keys player Heather Shannon and drummer Nik Kaloper when they pulled up in London at the end of that marathon cycle of gold, platinum, gigs and festivals. We talked about their time in London, recording of their video The End, vocal training, where her inspiration comes from, and where the Jezabels are heading in the upcoming years.

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak to me today.

Haley: Welcome, my pleasure!

I saw you guys in Montreal last year and was blown away by your performance.

Haley: Well, thank you, cool you’re in Montreal, beautiful.

Wanted to introduce myself and I didn’t want to seem like a creepy fan.

Haley: (laughs) People don’t tend to have reservations but I’m used to it

I know in Montreal pretty sure in other places are really into your music. Some of your fans were pretty intense, more so than most shows I’ve been to so, I was like, maybe I should give them their space.

Haley: That’s amazing! Thank you, we really love Montreal. It’s very encouraging to hear that, I’m sure we’ll be back soon.

I’ve been to a lot of shows here in Montreal front “air mic-ing” it.

Haley: That’s so awesome! So good! Amazing!

How did you guys form as a band?

Haley: Heather and I have known each other since high school. We use to write Folk songs together (which we didn’t really ever do anything with). So in University where we properly met up with Sam (who I actually knew from where I grew up in Biron). So while at Sydney University where we met Nick and then we entered in Sydney University band competition. So we wrote a few songs and came in second. I think that was the key encouraging Factor, let us see what we can actually do and our potential as a band if we kept going. We kind of started playing around the local indie club scene in Sydney, and then we got home support tours to go around the country the first one was Tegan and Sara. They were really lovely, and touring with them really was amazing because it gave us a taste for what bands are like. We just kept on writing, released a few EP’s, and eventually radio playing and we’ve been going forth ever since.

I know this might sound a little weird , I realized in the album you have no bass, and never have. Was this intentional? I mean it’s not that you need it, I think you are one of the most largest sounding bands without it.

Haley: It was unintentional I suppose, we never thought of getting a bass player, originally we were looking for a drummer and a guitarist, we never thought of getting a bass player. Between how Heather plays piano and the way Sam plays guitar it seems to compensate for a lack of bass. Sometimes I think we overcompensate. Sounding very bass-y, mostly because we worried about not having a bass. I think that affects how Nick plays the drum, very tom like. We just never thought of getting one I think it was the way we were writing it never felt like we needed one. people don’t say it much too anymore, I think people have accepted it.

Like I mentioned before, I’ve never really noticed, you’re right, the combination of toms, keys and guitar really works well.

Haley: For some people it’s a no go, and can’t do without a bass player but whatever, some people don’t like female vocalist. It just happened naturally, we wouldn’t be opposed to getting a bass player for session musician, if we had the money, but we don’t. Let’s talk about your vocals.

I saw you guys almost 1 year ago, and vocals absolutely blew me away. As weird as this may sound I thought you were taller, I never expected much power to come out of such a petite woman.

Haley: (laughs) No one’s ever said that to me before. I’m not particularly short I’m 5’3 but yes I definitely come off as a small human, I have small features and everything. Yeah I don’t know, thank you? That’s funny that I come across taller than I am. You know everyone in Hollywood is rather short but on camera they look tall. Pictures have a way of making you into something that you’re not.


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