Local Artist Spotlight: Interview With Singer-Songwriter Piper Hays

Piper Hayes

Hi Piper, thanks for taking the time to talk with me. I understand you are releasing your first album on January 25. What’s the album titled?
Thanks so much for having me! Yes I am! It’s called Vagablonde.

What a great name! How did you come up with that?
Well, my mother left me a message while I was romping around in Europe and called me a vagabond. My friends and I were cracking up and the name just stuck. I added the blonde part because blondes have more fun… and I think everyone has some inner blondeness.

What was the inspiration behind these songs?
I get inspired when I’m overcome with a feeling that I can’t really process with words. When I feel something so intensely, I feel like music helps me take a different look at whatever I’m going through. So each one of these songs is just a melodic emotion. I write when I’m super joyful and loving everything, and also when I’m overcome with sadness and pain. But these songs are all just really short stories of growth.

Is there a message to the album?
I’d say the message is to follow what you love, no matter what it is, and to find strength and faith in yourself and things will always turn out okay.

Did that time traveling around Europe have an influence on the album?
Oh hell yea! I wrote more than half of these songs overseas. I was just experiencing so many amazing things and getting put in situations I’d never have dreamed of. I was a literal Vagablonde, ya know? Traveling around with basically nothing but a guitar and making friends and singing and dancing and cooking and lord knows what else. My travels usually result in a pocket full of songs.

You have a cover on the album – “I’d love to change the world” first recorded by Ten Years After in the 1970’s. What drew you to this song? It was released decades before you were born!
My dad got me into old rock growing up and it’s something that I’ve always loved. I’m a total poet at heart and Alvin Lee’s lyrics are not only super badass, but they are timeless. I think in the world we are living in today with so much confusion and hostility and anger – music is something that can really heal people no matter who you are or where you came from.

So you feel it’s relevant now?
Oh yeah. I think the lyrics really describe struggles that are somewhat repetitive or we’ve seen before. Also the chorus “I’d love to change the world, but I don’t know what to do, so I’ll leave it up to you” is so powerful. You hear people complaining all the time about the “state of the world” and stuff but everyone is so hesitant to change or they just simply don’t know how. We all expect someone else is going to make changes for us. I think this song is a total call to action kind of tune. We’re actually releasing a video for the song that includes some of my personal heroes and world changers as well as regular people who have changed the world!

Where did you record the album?
The legendary Sam Phillips Recording Company in Memphis, Tennessee.

How did you end up at the Sam Phillips Studio?
I had sent my demos out to a lot of people and a friend thought that Matt Ross-Spang and I would work well together. So I went to Memphis and we met and clicked super hard so a month later I was back laying down the tracks!

What was it like recording in such a historic studio? Didn’t Elvis record there?
Yeah it was incredible. You could really feel the energy of some of the legends that passed through there. Elvis did spend a lot of time there so it was like hallowed grounds. They actually pulled out one of the beautiful old mics that the King himself used to sing into for me to use! I was trying pretty hard to stay calm when I found that out! (laughs)

What was it like working with Grammy winning producer Matt Ross-Sprang?
Matt is beyond amazing. He made the whole experience so relaxed and fun and I learned a lot from him. He made sure that I understood every little thing that was going on in the control room and the studio as well as making sure I was comfortable with each step of the process. It totally felt like he could read my mind at some points too, when it came to certain changes or shifts in the vibe of the songs. He is a maestro and I’m already excited to get back to Memphis and do the next album with him.

There is another track you wrote on the album, “For You”, which I have to say moved me to tears. How has your audience responded to it?
Overall I think that song really touches people in a special way. Most people are brought to tears or at least choked up a bit.

Yeah, I think it’s a song that just about anyone can relate to. I mean, we’ve all known someone who has experienced a profound loss, if not ourselves. But the way you express compassion is just so beautiful.
Thank you so much. I just let my heart hold the pen I guess.

Did you always know you wanted to be a singer/songwriter?
(Laughs) Oh yeah. I’ve always been singing and writing since I could open my mouth and hold a pen.

So what’s next?
Next I’m hitting the road. My feet are getting itchy and I’m ready for more adventures and to play more shows !!

Where can your fans download the album and videos?
The album is going to be available January 25 on all music platforms, Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, all of it. You will also be able to buy the vinyl very soon for people who are into that! The videos are going to be up on YouTube and Facebook as well as on my website.

Thanks so much for talking with me. Congratulations on the album and I think that anyone who gives it a listen will connect with the genuine emotions that come through your songs. I look forward to seeing you performing it live later this year.
Thank you so much! Hell yeah! I better see you dancing in the crowd.

Piper Hays will be performing at The Mint on Tuesday January 29 and The Study on Friday February 8. For more info and tour dates go to PiperHays.com

Local Artist Spotlight: Interview With Singer-Songwriter Piper Hays
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Local Artist Spotlight: Interview With Singer-Songwriter Piper Hays
Interview with singer-songwriter Piper Hays about her hew album "Vagablonde" recorded at the historical Sam Phillips Recording Studio in Memphis, TN.