Haley Midgette – Five Questions With

Haley Midgette

Haley Midgette shares her EP, Artisan Guardian

Toronto’s Haley Midgette has unveiled her second collection of songs, a four-track EP called Artisan Guardian. With lyrics that are a testament to the unpredictable musings of a guarded yet curious heart, Haley’s journey is tender and heartfelt, tragic at times due to its relatability, as she takes a deep and honest dive inwards to make sense of how things manifest outwardly in the world around her.

The listening experience is built around melodies equal parts elegant and catchy, enriched by simple, poetic lyrics that combine vulnerability, compassion, and authentic awareness. With a wide spectrum of influences that range from Leonard Cohen to Katy Kirby, the finished product is poised, honest, and deeply moving.

Haley has once again partnered with Guillermo Saubaste, who produced, engineered, and played bass and percussion on Artisan Guardian and her first EP, Carlaw Ave. Haley looks forward to moving audiences with upcoming intimate live performances of this latest release, alongside other original tracks in her old and new repertoire.

Listen to Artisan Guardian below and learn more about Haley Midgette via our Five Questions With segment.

Care to introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m Haley Midgette, a singer-songwriter and actor born and raised in Toronto. My music’s lyric- and melody-driven and pulls a lot of inspiration from the folk tradition. I’ve had people tell me it reminds them of Sarah Harmer, Jewel, and Joni Mitchell.

Tell us a bit about your most recent release.

It’s a four-track EP called Artisan Guardian, which drops on March 3. The idea for the title track came about after a discussion with an ex-partner where I was trying to explain my specific experience with what I guess you’d call social anxiety and my frustration with how limiting and disconnecting it often feels. He noted how hard I was on myself and, more specifically, that the nickname I had for this part of myself was a little harsh. So I gave her a new one: my Artisan Guardian.

Lyrically, throughout the album, I explore my relationship with parts of myself and other people in a way that, I hope, connects to something universal. At the time each song was written, I had no higher motive in mind; they were simply an outlet to express something I was feeling, a way to make sense of an experience and perhaps move toward acceptance or resolution. When I was deciding which songs to include alongside the title track for the EP, these vague themes emerged: the frustration and pain involved in falling short of our expectations, the beauty and vulnerability of working through that with grace and compassion, and the moments of surrender that the process demands. I think writing can be both a means of “working through” and an act of surrender.

Sonically, you’ll find a lot of delicate yet catchy melodies and some gentle atmospheric elements alongside the classic acoustic guitar, vocals, bass, and percussion elements of the singer-songwriter genre.

Where do you tend to pull inspiration from when writing?

Many different places. A lot of the songs I’ve released so far came from a need to articulate a feeling or experience so I could understand, appreciate, learn, and move on from it. So much of my writing is inspired, I suppose, by my own experience. It’s what I know and what I feel I can write about most honestly, without falling into that very tempting trap of trying to say something of value.

But, as is the case for all of us, what percolates up from my subconscious when I attempt to articulate my experience, as well as my way of relating to and thinking about the subject matter, has always been hugely informed by other art and content I’m consuming, be it books, poetry, podcasts, movies and TV, or other music. They help me make sense of what I experience.

I also pull a lot of inspiration from conversations with other people, as evidenced by the conception of the new EP’s title. Recently, I’ve been back in acting class, where we’re often talking about the shared human experience. I’m constantly being reminded of lessons I’ve learned and truths that I know to be important but which have slipped into the periphery of my mind. It’s helping me become more comfortable with discomfort and uncertainty, which I find incredibly inspiring.

Sometimes I can make loose connections between artists I love and the music I’m writing. For example, I adore Mitski. I was listening to quite a bit of her around the time I wrote Artisan Guardian and Weatherman. She and I have very different styles, but I find her skill with imagery and the raw but poetic honesty of her lyrics incredibly moving. And I’ve no doubt that her work subtly shaped those tracks.

Other times, I’ve found myself drawing inspiration from others artists in more explicit ways. Now That I Know This, a track on my first EP, quite literally opens with a quote from The Alchemist, which sets up the entire struggle explored in the song.

During the pandemic, I discovered Consolations by the poet David Whyte, and I now come back to that collection repeatedly when I’m actively seeking inspiration.

Do you have any upcoming shows you’d like to tell us about?

Yes, I do! I’ll be at the Painted Lady in Toronto on April 1. I wrote on my own, and I recorded Artisan Guardian with multi-instrumentalist and producer/engineer Guillermo Saubaste, so I’m currently rehearsing with a band to get ready for live shows. There definitely will be more to follow around the GTA.

I’ll post about them on Instagram, @haleymidgette, and through my email list and “shows” page on my website, haleymidgette.com.

What’s your goal for 2023?

Music-wise, I’ve got a couple. One is to play more live shows. The second is to ready the tracks to record my first LP in the second half of the year. The songs have been sitting as rough demos since 2020, but I want to really take time to play around with the instrumentation before I sit down to record.

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