The Late Bloomer: an Interview With Haley Blais

As soon as I heard that this month’s theme was “Growth,” I became immediately inspired. One of Haley Blais’s recent songs, “Late Bloomer,” has helped inspire me to progress into a new phase of self-growth in my life, and I saw the chance for a piece. Initially, I was just going to urge you, the reader, to listen to it, but I found myself reaching out to her. I hope you enjoy reading this piece as much as I enjoyed working on it!

Haley’s new album Let Yourself Go comes out April 7th, but in the meantime, you can check out Haley’s music and comedy on Youtube, Bandcamp, and Spotify.

Lithium: How would you describe your music to a new listener?

Haley: Well, from a technical standpoint it's a mix of indie-folk and try-hard rock chick... but probably more pop chick. I don't think I would ever say that to someone if they asked, though. If they asked, I would look into their eyes and try to find what's hurting them, because I'm psychic, and I would say "it's music for when your dog dies" or "for when they don't love you back" or "for the painfully average existence" and hope they can relate.

Lithium: How do you think your YouTube following (those gained from non-music content) has affected your music?
Haley: I don’t think YouTube has affected my music sound-wise, but it’s definitely opened up a new stream of listeners who maybe weren’t expecting someone like me to make music. I get comments all the time from viewers like, “I’ve had your songs on my playlists for so long and I never knew it was you!”

Lithium: Which facet of your content would you say reflects you best?
Haley: I think both [YouTube and musical content] reflect me pretty equally. It’s hard to showcase my comedic and admittedly weird side in music without it being super transparent, so I use my videos for that. And with writing music comes complete honesty, which is hard for me to do in my videos. So they both give me the ability to be myself, which is great.

Lithium: The song "Small Foreign Faction" off your new upcoming EP has a sound that’s different from anything you've released so far. What does this new EP mean to and for you?
Haley: The EP is backed by a full band for the first time, so it was so fun to work with Trevor (producer and instrument wizard) and Brennan (drums and arrangement) and learn how to think with a band in mind, since I usually just work with ukulele and vocals. So to me, this EP shows growth and discovery; thus, “let yourself go.” While Late Bloomer (2016) focused on the grief of a former self, Let Yourself Go is a commentary on where one goes after they've bloomed.

Lithium: What does this process of “blooming” mean to you?
Haley: A lot of the songs on this EP deal with me really coming into myself and becoming comfortable with who I am. The title track, “Let Yourself Go,” is about society's perception of women and how we're held to a certain standard—for the most part—and when a person doesn't vibe with that, they're seen as unattractive or they've "let themselves go.” I made that the title of the EP because the phrase is also really freeing.

Lithium: Do you have any advice for people stuck in that stage of awkward growth?
Haley: Definitely to just keep writing, it's really as simple as that. Listen to bands that inspire you. Drink water.

Lithium: If you could tour with any artist, who would you choose?
Haley: Angel Olsen. I want to know the secrets of the universe and I think she has them.

Lithium: If you had no constraints financially or artistically, do you have any idea what you would make?
Haley: I'd probably make a movie, I've always wanted to create my own world. And direct! It feels powerful. I think a part of me wants to feel complete and total power.

Lithium: How do you balance your music and videos with your everyday life?
Haley: Currently, making music and videos is my 9-5, so it's easy to make room for both. It's also easy to never leave my house for an entire week. While music definitely takes a priority, the content I make for my channel doesn't typically take more than a day to make. If I'm making a video a week and leaving the rest to music, there's admittedly a lot of free time. With the EP release and future touring, things will pick up, but for now I'm on the final season of Pretty Little Liars.

Lithium: What is your favorite part of performing? What is a fear you have about touring?
Haley: I played solo onstage for so many years and it got so lonely up there. I'm obsessed with my full band. Playing with them and just letting myself go, so to speak, is definitely my favorite part. Yes, I fear we will break down on the road and be stranded in the middle of the night and die.

Lithium: What advice do you have for new musicians or YouTubers?
Haley: Doesn't everyone have the same advice to give? Find what makes you happy, live your damn truth, don't give up, drink water. Did I mention to drink water already? Drink water.

Lithium: Do you have anything else you would like to say?
Haley: I hope you like the songs and hope I can sing them to your face soon!

Interview by James Straub

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