Indianapolis-based singer-songwriter Haley Jonay blends a wide range of elements from pop to folk. Her affinity for creating soulful melodies and relatable lyrics is reflected in the lighthearted sounds of her latest single I’m Not the Ex He’s Back With.
PATTERN had the opportunity to get to know Haley and discuss her musical journey. Listen to the playlist Haley curated and read her story below!
Tell us about your musical background.
I am currently 22 and have been making music my entire life. I can’t remember a time before music was my constant. It has always been there for me. I started playing piano when I was four or five, but I technically started taking lessons at five or six. I just knew it was my life, love, and passion. I wrote my first song at seven and it was definitely way ahead of its time. It deserved all the Grammys. I knew I was on to something that I loved. I picked up a guitar at 12 and played my first gig at 14. My parents and immediate family came to the show and as soon as I sat down in this coffee shop to play, the audience other than my family walked out. I guess you have to pay your dues. I then released my first album at 16 and since then released singles and a couple more albums throughout the years. Loving what I am doing is just the common theme.
Tell us about the mix you curated. Does it give off a type of mood? What should we be doing while listening in?
I went along with the theme of my new single I’m Not the Ex He’s Back With and made a post-breakup playlist of some of my favorite songs at the moment. I would say the mood is unbothered and moving on with a hint of residual feelings.
What groups are killing the game right now?
The music scene as a whole has really blown up in the last couple of years between the venues really facilitating such a positive experience for local musicians and involving them in the community. The HI-FI is a big venue for up-and-coming coming artists, and I got the opportunity to play there a while back. There is no shortage of places for people to play, which is a foundation of any music success. Alex Franc is really killing the game right now. Also Bobby Donnelly, Andy Greenwell, and Emma Peridot. There are so many artists right now and it is cool to see Indy representing on a local level. On a major scale, this is probably a common answer, because she is number one right now, but I am really inspired by Billie Eilish. She is totally changing the game, doing her own thing, and breaking industry rules, not breaking rules in a way that is defiant, but in a way that she is facilitating the best environment to make her own music. I am also inspired by Taylor Swift. She broke the cycle she had her entire career of calculating each album release. This time she made an album and put it out within a couple of months of creating it, which I think is a game-changer and you hear the authenticity in that. I think people are ready for artists to come in and shake things up.
Tell me about your past and current music projects.
My recent single has been stuck in my head since I got the hook idea in October. I am very excited it is out in the universe. I came up with the hook one day when I was scrolling through Instagram and was hurt to see that my ex was back with his ex. The theme of the song is that I wish them the best and I realize that this is the best outcome, but there is always a part of me that is saying this is ironic. The melody popped into my head, “my ex is back with his ex, but I am not the ex he is back with”. I whipped out my phone and started recording in my voice memos. It was just the hook and I put it on the back burner for a day, but it kept replaying in my head. I knew I needed to manifest it into an actual song. So, I sat down, and I came up with the track for it. I really wanted to have a fun, lighthearted sound musically, because I wanted it to translate how I was feeling about the situation.
As far as my past projects, I recorded my first album when I was sixteen and it was a collaborative effort production-wise with some great musicians, Darrick Day being one of them. It was an awesome experience going down to Bloomington. We had all these local musicians come in and record the album within the span of a couple of days. I had never recorded anything in my life, and it was a dream come true. When I listen to the album, I love it, but I think about what it would have sounded like if I was the one directly translating what I was hearing in my head to what was playing. To do that I understood that I really had to educate myself on production and really practice guitar and piano. I released my first single that I had ever done completely by myself called All the Bright Places, inspired by the novel by Jennifer Niven. It got an amazing response. It gave me the confidence boost that I needed as a 17-year-old making my first project on my laptop at that time having little to no production gear and propelled me to go and make my first full-length album called Wilderness.
What are your interests outside of music?
I do not know what work-life balance is, so it is a bittersweet thing when your career is also your favorite hobby, but aside from that, I love to read. I tried painting, but I was no good. Bob Ross would have been so disappointed in me, but I like to try new things. I love cooking, baking, spontaneous adventures, listening to music, going to live shows and spending time with family and friends.