If Hayes Peebles, 25 year old musician and native New Yorker isn’t on your radar, he needs to be. Whether you want to take this advice from me or from Rolling Stone (yes, Rolling Stone) you’re going to want to check him out.
Peebles started his career at an early age when he began taking piano lessons, which he claims was mostly because “all the other kids were doing it.” What began as an attempt to follow the crowd, quickly made him a stand out. Around the age everyone else quit piano, and he pushed on at full speed.
In his early years, Hayes produced music in an acoustic/indie style. He made “Straight to Hell” back in 2014, however, didn’t share the song with anyone for a few years. Which lead me to ask Hayes, why produce music to not share it? He admits that back then he felt like he cared more about having an image, an indie image per say. He didn’t want to share his music because it contrasted with the image that he was trying so hard to create. With that paradox in mind, in more recent years Hayes has been making the transition away from the Indie scene into a twangier, Country-Folk vibe. One which he happily admits has been carved for him by his songs.
I asked Peebles a lot about what inspires him: people, places, etc. He told me “if you’re lucky enough to catch some inspiration, it’s dumb to fight it,” a quote I respect whole-heartedly. In all honesty, I (ignorantly, might I add) expected his answer to hold this sort of magical, fantasy-like quality involving people and places I’d never heard of. In reality, Hayes tells me of a more realistic, yet still very raw, life where he seeks a quiet space, scratch paper and his guitar, and the flow pours itself out from there. Recording breaks take him to Transmitter Park on the East River, where he describes his perfect day-to-day “in the early summer, where the skyline glistens and there’s music wafting around.” His honest answers were enough to have my mind wander, and almost feel his passion and others’ in the air.
The more questions I threw at Hayes, the more I was impressed by his modesty and ability to remain incredibly down to earth. Music means so much to me as a listener, making it easy to forget that musicians are real people too. When asked about his favorite places to both play and act as a member of the audience, Hayes reminded me that name dropping isn’t important; he told me he wouldn’t play favorites. However, he did leave us with some advice: get out to as many shows as humanly possible, and if you do find a venue you fall in love with, don’t take it for granted.
Peebles has a tendency to lean towards sad love songs, a talent he’s clearly mastered, yet reminded me that he does partake in other styles too. This led me to question Hayes about where his lyrics come from. He told me that if he’s singing about it, he’s likely come to terms with it. He went further to explain that “songwriters get to build their problems into their songs, and share them with everybody they know. We’re very sly when it comes to free therapy.”
I’ve always been curious about what kinds of music different musicians listen to. Hayes explained “my musical world is much bigger than the one I play in. I don’t want to sit here and just say ‘I’ll listen to anything,’ so I’d put it this way: if you play me something with a strong melody, a thought-out sound and if that something feels honest most of the way through I’ll probably like it and listen to it again. I am an unbelievable sucker for melody and for personality.”
No strangers to nerves, my next question for Peebles was one regarding how he copes with pre-show jitters, and if he has any rituals or superstitions. Again, much to my surprise, he shot down what I had expected his answer to be. Nerves don’t seem to be a problem for him anymore, and as long as he has a set list in his back pocket he’s good to go. While anyone can have a tough night on stage, he explains that it’s usually those same nights that end up being the most fun, as well as a ending in a learning experience.
As the interrogation came to an end, I had one last question for Hayes Peebles: What aspect of your music career is most important to you? He told me that the most important thing to him is “good music made without restraint alongside collaborators that care.” What an answer.
Peebles released a few new tracks available on Spotify now. While I wouldn’t traditionally categorize myself as a country girl, these are worth a listen:
If any of my readers find themselves on the East Coast this summer, you can catch Hayes performing live at these venues:
7/18/18 – The Haven – Boston, MA
7/19/18 – The Grove – Providence, RI
7/20/18 – 123 – Portland, ME
7/22/18 – Ortlieb’s – Philadelphia, PA
7/23/18 – Cherry St – Northampton, MA
7/25/18 – Cafe Blanc De Blanc – Montreal, QC
7/26/18 – Radio Bean – Burlington, VT