How Haley Heynderickx Found Her Confidence For Her Debut Album

Mar 29, 2018
Originally published on April 2, 2018 6:04 am

In person, folk musician Haley Heynderickx is shy and soft-spoken. She gets what she calls "sweaty impostor syndrome" when asked to talk about her music. But in performance, the Portland-based artist has the confidence to lay herself bare. Two years ago, she released a promising four-song collection called Fish Eyes that was so unguarded, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. Heynderickx's unabashed self-assurance has only grown over time and can be heard on her latest album, I Need To Start A Garden, available now.

Throughout the record, Heynderickx ponders universal preoccupations like navigating relationships and evaluating self-worth. The gorgeous opening track, "No Face," seems to ask a disenchanted loved-one, "Is it you ... or is it me?" And the electric folk ballad "Jo" finds her cradling someone "like honeycomb holding the bee in the folds."

Heynderickx grew up outside Portland in a Filipino-American household. There, she learned to sing at church and family karaoke parties. She built her guitar chops at open mics where she honed a finger-picking style that is heavily influenced by John Fahey and Leo Kottke.

Now that her debut LP is out, the singer-songwriter, who still teaches music locally, wants to move towards a full-time music career as a performer. But that goal seemed like stretch a year ago. During the recording process of I Need To Start A Garden, Heynderickx scrapped multiple recordings and suffered a real crisis of confidence. The artist eventually found her footing before recording "Om Sha La La," the song that would become the heart the record — an irreverent single filled with quirky non sequiturs and the lyric that became the title of the album. Heynderickx says the song is partly motivational and partly a reminder not to take herself too seriously.

Haley Heynderickx is one of the new Slingshot artists — emerging talent, handpicked by public radio stations and NPR.

Copyright 2018 opbmusic.org. To see more, visit opbmusic.org.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

All right, so we're calling this series Slingshot. NPR Music is on the prowl for buzzed-about artists regionally who might make it big nationally. And Jerad Walker of Oregon Public Broadcasting has the story of Haley Heynderickx.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANE")

HALEY HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) Why am I frightened if it's all just a game?

JERAD WALKER, BYLINE: Two years ago, Haley Heynderickx released a promising four-song collection that was so unguarded, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. Like a tourist who stumbled upon a wedding on a public beach, I found myself wondering, am I supposed to be here?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SANE")

HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) The look in your eyes kept me sane.

WALKER: In person, Heynderickx is shy and soft-spoken. She gets what she calls sweaty imposter syndrome when asked to talk about her music. But in performance, the Portland-based musician has the confidence to lay herself bare. You can hear that on her new album, "I Need To Start A Garden."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO FACE")

HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) Face me. Face me entirely.

WALKER: Heynderickx, now in her mid-20s, sings of universal preoccupations - navigating relationships, evaluating self-worth. On this track, she seems to ask a disenchanted loved one, is it you or is it me?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NO FACE")

HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) Is it the bridge between worlds that makes you feel alone?

WALKER: Heynderickx grew up outside Portland in a Filipino-American household, learned to sing at church and family karaoke parties, and built her guitar chops at local open mics. With this record, Heynderickx says she's moving towards a full-time music career, which must have been scary because the sessions didn't go well at first. She scrapped multiple recordings and suffered a real crisis of confidence before finding her footing and recording this song, which would become the heart of the record.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OOM SHA LA LA")

HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) The milk is sour. I've barely been to college, and I've been doubtful of all that I've dreamed of. The brink of my existence essentially is a comedy.

WALKER: Haley Heynderickx says the song is partly motivational and partly a reminder not to take yourself too seriously.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OOM SHA LA LA")

HEYNDERICKX: (Singing) I'm throwing out the milk. The olives got old. I'm tired of...

GREENE: That's Jerad Walker of Oregon Public Broadcasting talking about Haley Heynderickx. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.