As the saying goes, “three times is a charm.” That certainly rings true for Haley Heyndrickx. The Portland-based guitarist/songwriter had attempted to record the material on her debut album, I Need to Start a Garden twice before striking gold.
The first sessions took place on a farm in Happy Valley, Oregon, but Heyndrickx says that she quickly realized the songs needed more development. “I was obsessively trying to write and fill gaps and they just weren’t there,” she says. “Then a horse on the farm, Hobo, had died, which was very sad, tragic and symbolic for everyone (rest in peace Hobo) and we knew we had to try our musical journey elsewhere.” The second try was in a formal studio, but a combination of financial pressure and personal stress took a toll, and Heyndrickx ultimately decided to pull the plug.
Thankfully, by the time Heyndrickx met producer Zak Kimball through mutual acquaintances, her songs were ready to go. As began work at Nomah Studios in Portland, they also discovered they shared a powerful creative chemistry. “[He] ended up being the most thoughtful producer to the tones and nuances of the record. He cared about my anxiousness and weird addiction to details… Maybe our meeting was a mix of the right timing, and letting myself and the songs mature a bit before our paths crossed,” she says.
While Heyndrickx says that every musician should experience recording in both DI settings and formal studios—and cautions that negative or anxious moods may cause technology shutdowns no matter where recording takes place—in this case, she says the later definitely had its benefits, in terms of the range and quality of equipment and the control she had to tailor her sound. “But, the studio can feel somewhere in near the DIY feel too!” she says. “I loved Nomah studios, while it was still going. I felt at home, and the freedom to choose mics that best captured the moment made me feel a wide sense of relief.”
I Need to Start a Garden also represents Heyndrickx’s transition between working primarily as a solo artist to becoming a bandleader. Musically, this comes through in the arrangements of the songs, which trade off between moments of minimalist guitar and Heyndrickx’ low, soulful vocals, such as on “No Face,” “Jo”), and fuller sections of fleshed out with additional instrumentation including drums, keys, and , as well as vocal harmonies, such as on the 60s-influenced pop of “Oom Sha La La,” and the punk-leaning “Worth It.”
Listening to it all together may make it all sound simple, but Heyndrickx says the process was anything but. “Oh, it felt so confusing at first. Each song on the record could be recorded in 5 different ways: electric, acoustic, classical, with band, or solo. Jesus. It took Zak and I forever to figure out which combination felt right. We took our time experimenting; what was so delightful in working with him is that we both absolutely know when the song felt right,” she says.
I Need to Start a Garden is available now through Mama Bird Recording Co.
- Don’t take it too personally. You’re gonna throw out ideas they’ll love, and you’re gonna throw ideas they feel massively embarrassed by. You’re creating something together; be patient!
- Take your time in finding your people! If you sat me down and let me tell you how I met each of my bandmate, I’d sound like a boring reminiscent lecturer. Each story is pretty dreamy, and each story makes sense. My community led me to these creatures, my intuition knew I would find them. I am grateful for this.
- Don’t date your bandmates.
- No, really, don’t date your bandmates.
- Learn each other’s tour language. Heck, learn each other’s love languages. Some bandmates don’t sleep, some can’t eat nuts, some can’t handle being near you after 4 hours. Some will tell you when you start to smell, some will not.