Analogue Music | Aubrey Haddard

Aubrey Haddard

By Matt Conner

Consider this a bit of a head start.

Aubrey Haddard's sensational sophomore release, Awake and Talking, is still months from release (August 19 on Beverly Martel Records), but you'll have to forgive us for being a bit excited to catch up with the burgeoning songwriter and to share her latest singles.

Echoes of Hannah Georgas and Lucy Rose can be found in Haddard's new album, the proper follow-up to 2018's Blue Part, and it's not a surprise to find the Hudson Valley native reference words like "authenticity" and "originality" so often. Those calling cards are what allow compelling songs like "Green as Ever" or "Just A Wall" to find their way forward.

In an effort to find out more about Haddard's background and the reasons why this album was

Analogue: I’d love to get more context on your background. I know you went to Berklee, but was there a musical family background before that? Was there a turning point where you think, ‘I’m going all in here as a solo artist’?

Aubrey: My family isn’t particularly musical, but it was a creative household. I’m also from the Hudson Valley, and there’s such a good artistic culture in these parts that I was very lucky to grow up with. Then I went to music school. I did take a few years off first after high school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do and felt similar to what I do now. [Laughs] It was kind of existential with the world as it is and wondering how I could contribute to this.

But music was always a huge part of my life. I visited a friend at school and thought, ‘Yeah, I think I want to spend my days getting better at this,’ and just dove in head-first. I had a thirst for playing shows. There were years and years where I was just constantly playing in different bands and my own band and started to work as a singer and all of that.

At a certain point, I decided to make my own music and put my name on it. It was very casual. I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll write some songs and put them out. This is just a thing.’ Then as soon as I started doing that, I felt so much better about doing it. It was so much more authentic and I wanted to do it more.

I feel like a lot of musicians, in the best way, are so naive about that process. You start doing this work and realize it’s fun. It’s my passion and I’m here for it and then it just never stops. You’re in that headspace for forever. You’re writing and creating and wearing so many hats. So I don’t think there was a turning point where I was in this. It just took over my identity.

Analogue: We still have a few months until release day. How does this long ramp feel to you?

Aubrey: I'd love for release day to not come with a bunch of existential crises. [Laughs] No, I think it's been a while, so the longer you do it, you get used to the grind of it all—and I'm not crazy about that word. I think the biggest thing for me is keeping in mind that I'm not doing it to make money at the end of the day. No one is doing this to make money.

The number one thing that keeps me working at it, to throw it at the wall and see what sticks, is knowing that maybe at some point I can make something nobody has ever made before. That's the biggest high I could probably get out of life.

Analogue: When chasing that originality, how elusive does that feel this time around compared to the first album? Are you better at bridging that gap?

Aubrey: Yeah, it’s important for me to make what I set out to make. Obviously it’s important to let those expectations go at a certain point and let the work find its way or find itself. But I think it’s always been true that everything I make comes from a very authentic place. What is changing is that I’m getting closer to finding my artistic voice and how aligned the work can be with that. There’s so much that goes into a project, so there are a lot of places for that to get lost.

Analogue: If you’re finding clarity in your artistic voice, can you say tangibly what that looks like or an example of it?

Aubrey: Yeah, with this project, the music is highly authentic. I think it came out of me at a time where I wasn’t able to hold back, so I didn’t. But what was really exciting to me about this project in particular was the visuals and branding around it. It felt very aligned with my vision for the music and what it would all look like. I like thinking of the release as more than just the music itself. It’s a statement of who I am and then being able to also visually represent that in the most accurate way.

Analogue: Some artists love to drop off the music at the door and visuals are an afterthought—

Aubrey: Well, the idea of visuals are so complicated and hard to execute. I mean, we’re musicians. Some of us might also be videographers or visual artists, but I am not. I’m not a creative director, so needing to step into that role is so challenging, but I feel like it can really push the music into a new space.

'What is changing is that I’m getting closer to finding my artistic voice and how aligned the work can be with that. There’s so much that goes into a project, so there are a lot of places for that to get lost."

Analogue: Does the muse arrive in visual form, too?

Aubrey: I feel like it does. Writing lyrics that have imagery make that impact, so immediately there is that connection. But there are also things that remind me or that I’m reminded of when I’m writing lyrics—notes I’ll jot at the top of a page. Something so important on this record was the Orpheus connection, because that was a creative project that I was writing about one of my favorite movies. I dove in and it ended up being such an overarching theme over all the songs. But it’s just another texture to layer in with the sounds.

Analogue: I love the thoughtfulness of the whole package.

Aubrey: Maybe I’m too much of a control freak. [Laughs]

Analogue: You said earlier that it was impossible for you to hold back when songwriting, that you almost were unable to filter or be precious about the work.

Aubrey: Sometimes I read old journals and I think, ‘Jesus, I wrote that! You really couldn’t keep that to yourself?’ [Laughs] But on my first record, you said the word precious and I’d been writing songs and took it way too seriously all the time. It was my craft, so I needed to practice and all that stuff. But it was all so new, so I was super precious about all of my songs. If I made a creative decision that I liked, it was never going anywhere. [Laughs] I think that totally hinders your songwriting to not be able to let go of things now.

On the flip side, moving in that direction where you can let go of so many things can lead you down opposite paths. You can reach the place of authenticity quicker or you can become the opposite where you’re writing as a muscle and not from the heart. Maybe you’re not writing something that’s true for you or even a narrative that’s your own. It’s a fine line.

VISIT: Aubrey Haddard