Hutchinson is a British singer-songwriter, born in Northumbria in 1981. Much of
her childhood was spent living on a croft in Scotland where she taught herself
to sing by harmonising to the outlaw country music of Townes Van Zandt and Guy
As a teenager she moved to York where the likes of Neil Young, Emmylou Harris
and Gram Parsons inspired her to pick up a guitar and write her own songs. Early
EPs showcased her and swiftly brought her to the attention of BBC Radio 2ís
encouragement led her to self-finance her debut album Independently Blue.
Recorded in York with Fraser Smith, Independently Blue is a collection of
haunting folk lullabies and rootsy acoustic pop that merited a Guardian Single
of the Week, extensive BBC Radio 2 airplay and caused Uncut magazine to
herald her as a Ďlove-starved Joni Mitchellí.
this, Hayley toured relentlessly supporting artists such as Richard Thompson,
Ray Davies and Kurt Wagner; and was handpicked to open the acoustic stage at the
In 2006, she returned to the studio to
record the bluegrass influenced Held To Ransom EP that further
illustrated her deep musical heritage and coincided with her first appearance at
the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas.
rest of the year saw Hayley spend an increasing amount of time in America where
she recorded the song ĎPocket Full Of Starsí with Nine Black Alps for the
Oscar nominated film Surfís Up, and formed the rock band The Sorry
Kisses with Sam Forrest of Nine Black Alps and Micah Calabrese, formerly of
returning to England in 2007, she teamed up with the acclaimed singer-songwriter
Iain Archer to co-produce her second album Love Songs For The Enemy released
Q: Do you think of your lyrics as poetry?
A: I see my lyrics more as short stories about myself or my reflections
on certain things Iíve experienced or felt strongly about.
Q: Do you think it is important that songs rhyme and if so why?
A: Sometimes songs flow better if they rhyme. It ties things up nicely.
As long as itís not just rhyming for the sake of it. I find that when Iím
singing certain melodies that are free and changing in direction a lot you can
end up where you hadnít expected and you donít necessarily need rhyme as
long as the sentiment feels right.
Q: Do you think song lyrics must conform to recognised song structures
such as clear rhyming schemes, choruses, refrains, hooks and bridges or that
songs can also be like free verse?
A: I think some of the best songs can be the more simple ones with three
or four chords and a killer hook. Having said that, it does depend on my mood
and I might like more of a challenge. Personally, the less I think about the
structures the better, otherwise I start judging myself and second guessing
myself and thatís when it doesnít work for me. I also tend to like open
ambiguity in songs and poetry. Itís understood but you canít quite put your
finger on it.
Q: When you read poetry in school or elsewhere did you recognize
any connection to the music you enjoyed?
A: We didnít really read enough poetry in school so I had to find it
for myself. We did read a lot of war poems. Some of the first poetry I read
confused me but as I got older I appreciated it more and was more open to what
it might be about and how it made me feel. I discovered you can leave out key
words and it can still make perfect sense. It doesnít have to mean literally
what it means. Thatís the mystery. Thatís where the connection is for me
between song lyrics and poetry. It was the mystery and how it might mean
something completely different to someone else.
Q: Was there anything about poetry in books that influenced your
A: Going back to when I read war poems at
school. They put images in my head, sometimes horrific. Thatís when I realised
how important imagery in writing is. I started hearing songs in a different way.
I liked the idea of certain sentences or verses in poems or songs transporting
me somewhere other than where I physically was. Then I experimented with that
idea in some of my own songs.
Q: Why do you think songs are more popular with people than poetry is?
A: I think music has a lot to do with what mood people are in. I for one
find it easier to stick on a record than to pick up a poetry book. That just
depends on how lazy Iím feeling. Maybe music appeals more to peopleís
laziness! Or it might have a more instant connection because of the way it
sounds and how the chords and changes make people feel or the atmosphere of the
music. I do like poetry and especially when itís delivered and read well it
can be very moving. Maybe people are not educated enough in poetry to fully
appreciate it, whereas songs and music are practically everywhere these days.
© Hayley Hutchinson