I have known about Halie Loren for years. Her unique style of blending jazz, pop and everything in-between has vaulted her into the upper echelon of her genre, specifically in Asia. The Alaska-native took a few minutes out of her day to chat with us about her brand new LP, From The Wild Sky, working with producer Troy Miller and more!
So without any more pomp and circumstance, I would love to introduce you to Halie Loren!
Hi Halie! Thank you so much for taking the time chat with us! How is everything going?
Things are going quite well! The last 6 months has been one of the busiest times of my life, with the combination of running my (thankfully, successfully funded!) Kickstarter campaign, preparing for and recording my new album, touring, and, now, helping to promote the album around the world. I feel extremely lucky to have been able to realize a really big dream of mine with this whole project, and love so much of what I’m doing right now, so mostly I’m feeling super grateful!
Congratulations on the release of From The Wild Sky! Could you talk about the Kickstarter campaign that helped fund the album?
I made the decision to try this Kickstarter campaign, my first crowdfunding experience, in late spring of last year. There is so much planning that goes into running this sort of campaign, and a lot to be learned from reading the experiences others have had with crowdfunding and learning from their successes and mistakes, so I did a ton of research of that nature. I also drew up a very long list of ideas for unique rewards – the campaign ended up having less than HALF of my initial reward ideas included, but there was no way I could offer 60 different reward packages! One of my favorite parts of the crowdfunding effort was coming up with creative rewards, actually, because it also ended up being an avenue of self-expression that I got to share with my fans. I got to not only share my passion for music, but also my love of art, of nature, of animals, and DIY projects… all shared with with a hefty helping of humor and fun. I think the fans that participated in this Kickstarter got to know me in a whole new way, and I got to know them and there interests on a deeper level, too. It wasn’t just a way to raise funds – which we were able to, since we surpassed the funding goal within the last week of the campaign – it was also a way to create a deeper sense of community around the album and among my fans. It was an awesome experience!
Now that the album is out. What makes this album different from your previous works?
“From the Wild Sky” diverges significantly from my previous albums in several ways… first, it’s an album that features my original music, with 10 of the 11 tracks being my own songs, so this album very much puts the spotlight on not only my artistic identity as a vocalist but also as a songwriter. Second, this album was not produced by me – I have produced or co-produced each one of my previous albums, but this time, I got to experience what it’s like to work with a dedicated producer. That role went to the marvelously talented Troy Miller, who is based in the UK and whose previous work (Becca Stevens, Laura Mvula, Gregory Porter, Jaime Cullum) shows a very broad and inventive production style that I knew would bring out some really fresh approaches to my songs. Third, this album doesn’t fit within a neat and tidy genre category in any sense, in my opinion… each song has its own musical personality and stylistic slant, but each connects from one track into the next, with the collection of songs building a sort of narrative as a whole.
You worked with producer Troy Miller on this wonderful record. How did Troy’s experience help you grow as a songwriter?
It was really impactful to be able to work with Troy on this project, as it allowed me to be more fully steeped in my creative role as a vocalist, writer, musician, and arranger… I’ve never had the luxury of being able to focus solely on the performance of a song the way I was able to when working on this album. Troy was very supportive of honoring my vision for each song, but also brought with him his own ideas, and we didn’t have to work too hard at merging the two sets of ideas – they fit together quite well. As a songwriter, there were times when I wasn’t sure about changing some of the aspects of a few of the song arrangements — things like altering the feel of the tune, or cutting out pieces that in my mind were part of the song and that I thought I might really miss, but my commitment to myself from the beginning was to try out whatever ideas came along, and to make judgments later rather than making assumptions and letting my own biases and hesitations hold up the creative process. I’m so glad I was able to let go of my controlling impulses enough to let Troy’s ideas unfold, because I ended up loving the changes we made to the arrangements based on his ideas. That was a great learning experience for me, because I tend to be so myopic about my projects, and it helped me to see that getting out of my own head can be a very good thing for the final result.
You have a huge following in Asia and specifically Japan. How do crowds different between the US and Japan?
There are far more similarities than there are differences, I would say. There are a few things that set touring in Japan apart from so many other places I’ve toured, though. For one, in Japan, physical CDs are still the most popular format for buying or listening to music, so I get to sign a LOT of album covers after every show, which I love doing, because it also gives me an opportunity to connect personally with the fans who show up to hear the live show. Also, I always have to make sure I arrive in Japan with a little bit of extra room in my suitcase, because my fans in Japan show me so much generosity in bringing me sweet little gifts… I keep ALL of the gifts from my fans, by the way. I consider them to be among my most treasured mementos from all my world travels.
There are 10 all new original tracks on this album. What was the most challenging part of writing this album?
I think the most challenging aspect of writing these songs was trying to come at them from a place of neutrality, and by that, I mean without preconceived notions of the kind of song I thought each one should be. I’m a seeker of honest expression, and above all, I wanted these songs to be true. It’s easy to start pigeonholing a creation before it’s even halfway done, and sometimes that’s the goal, but with these songs, I wanted to see where THEY would take ME. Each one had a story to tell me about myself or the world around me, little lessons and formative experiences peeking through the noise of day-to-day life that somehow made it into my brain and onto the page when I’d clear enough space in my head, such as those moments just before falling asleep, which is when an annoyingly high percentage of my creative ideas decide to pop through into my consciousness. I am happy to say that I can stand by these songs and attest that yes, these are indeed pieces of me. I hope others see themselves reflected in aspects of these songs as well.
Thank you and congratulations again, Halie! From The Wild Sky is a brilliant album.
Thank you so much! I’m so glad you’ve been enjoying it. I hope your readers do as well!
You can check out the brand new album, From The Wild Sky, by Halie Loren on Spotify below and do not forget to pick up the brand new album on her BandCamp page!