Gavin Haley is an open book. “I’m almost too emotional,” he tells us. “Almost too much. I’m trying to learn how to balance that better.” But it’s this very vulnerability that shapes his music.
With influences from Ed Sheeran, Mac Miller, and Coldplay, Haley’s music is characterized by confessional lyrics and infectious beats. You might already know him from his hit “The Way I Am” feat. Ella Vos, or perhaps his song “Tati” feat. Yung Pinch, which was later remixed by blink-182’s Travis Barker.
A former competitive cyclist, Haley got introduced to the music industry at the age of 16, after suffering an injury resulting in a collapsed lung. He was living in Belgium at the time, and while he was recovering, he discovered Europe’s underground music scene, fell in love, and changed his course.
On Haley’s recent trip to Manila, 8List got the chance to ask Gavin a few questions. Here’s what we learned.
i hate you, Don’t Leave Me
In his new record i hate you, Don’t Leave me, Haley continues baring his soul, circling around the fear of abandonment. His vulnerability shines in painfully poignant lyrics like “I need you here when I’m older” (from “Forever”) and “I’m right in front of you. Why can’t you open up?” (from “Blue Hour”).
“It’s really honest and describes exactly how I felt,” he says. “On these songs, I’m saying exactly what I would say to someone in real life.”
Writing as it unfolds
When songwriting, Haley normally draws from past events and memories, but with i hate you, Don’t Leave Me, he wrote from events as they were happening.
“I didn’t have an idea of what I was going to write about before I went to the studio. I just kind of went there with an open mind,” he tells 8List. “Lyrically, that was probably the biggest difference in this project.”
i hate you, Don’t Leave Me has something for every listener, whether you’re in a bad place looking for catharsis or whether you just want to dance.
“I don’t want to be somebody who just makes sad songs or happy songs. I want to tell stories,” Haley says. “I want my songs to aid listeners in whatever they’re going through. On one side, I’m this vulnerable kid who wants to be held. On the other side, I’m this passionate, energetic, and loud guy. It’s a very fine line between them.”
“When my listeners hear this, I want them to feel safe to be open,” he says. “This body of work is a true reflection of my last year. I’m being the most transparent I’ve ever been on this project.”