HATC Magazine Issue 3 EXCLUSIVE Hayley Williams Interview

“I love being able to get in on new publications and new magazines especially when they’re young, it just feels cool,” says Hayley after she asks for the official history of Head Above The Clouds, which we are more than happy to share. 

Speaking to the one and only Hayley Williams is by far the high point of my career so far. I’ve been a fan of Paramore since I was a young teen scream-singing ‘That’s What You Get’ in my room while my parents complained about the volume from downstairs. 

I have always loved the fact that Hayley and Paramore are so unapologetically real, unafraid to express themselves, who they are and how they feel through their music. From the pure joy and lightheartedness of ‘Still Into You’ to the raw exposed pain of ‘My Heart’ they have an unmatched talent of lyrical storytelling that keeps fans coming back as the years’ pass. Paramore tell their fans to be bold and demand what they deserve. 

So as I sit with Hayley over Zoom, I have an enthusiastic appreciation for the opportunity to include her as one of our Issue 3 cover stars. We ease into the conversation, me in my living room, Hayley in her office (two places neither of us have strayed far from in lockdown) as she congratulates me on getting my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Nashville is like, half locked down. Although the inner city is a blue bubble, the state is conservative as f*ck. There are literally places that have never been closed throughout this entire thing.”

If you asked her biggest fans what comes to mind when they think of Hayley her mesmerising vocals are probably first, but her notoriously bold and vibrant hair colours a definite close second. It was seeing how she inspired others to follow her lead that lead to the launch of her company ‘Good Dye Young’ which she conceived with her friend, stylist and makeup artist Brian O’Connor. 

The venture aims to provide a safe space and community all about self-expression and embracing who you are. Being no stranger to bold colour myself, I wanted to ask Hayley the effect of having control over her own hair colour over the years, and how choosing colour has impacted how she feels about identity.

“I think that presentation for people is one of the most basic things we can control. To me, growing up in a town, that as I said was pretty conservative, and being into music that wasn’t necessarily the most popular, I felt different. I think what’s interesting now is the conversation seems so trivial because back then we didn’t have all of the different platforms and social media connectivity that we do today which can help people to find their people and their communities. To me, hair was no more different than wearing my favourite band’s merchandise. When I would wear merch of some band that a lot of people didn’t know and then there would be one kid who would see me out and notice. It felt like, oh, I found my people.” 

“I like that the way we present ourselves helps us to dictate the world, who we want to be, the world we want to exist in whilst it also helps us connect with people. That connectivity makes you feel less alone, it makes you feel like your identity is validated. Brian, with who I started the company, both he and I were those kids who wanted to be part of a greater conversation and give more channels for those conversations to happen. That’s what Good Dye Young is all about.”

As we talk about the idea of control and expression through presentation, it reminds me that as a teen my mum always told me ‘if you want to change something, change your hair’, as it’s the one thing that you can always change again. (probably trying to steer me away from getting a tattoo. Sorry Mum.) So having a brand for everyone that provides the footing to express themselves, especially in a time where it feels we have restrictions left, right and centre, is a refreshing respite we probably really need. Having set up a ‘Sanctuary of Self Love’ experience at Bonnaroo festival with ‘Good Dye Young’, Hayley explains how it was there with more than music to share.

“My experience playing Bonnaroo was just as good as my experience showing up and being there as a spectator and as a fan. I think that’s crucial. The experience you have as a band that’s performing versus the experience you have as someone who’s just rolling up that are dying to see your favourite band can very easily feel like lifetimes apart. So what I loved about Bonnaroo, is that they clearly take such good care of the people that come to the festival. It was very easy for them to work in a safe space. That’s not knocking European festivals and English festivals because we’ve had some of the best times of our life there. I just have this as the only experience where I’ve been on both sides. I felt just as taken care of on either side. I loved working with them. We got to not only do treatments with people but we got to work with them on expressing their feelings in their hair and their appearance.”

“I love it, as I also get to work on my passion for wellness and mental health advocacy, working with other organisations or people that do like yoga and exercise programming that might get people more connected to their bodies. And then, of course, there’s just the music aspect of it, which permeates everything at Bonnaroo. So it’s like this perfect Venn diagram for me where I can sit in the middle of it and have access to all this stuff, but give access to all this so readily, to people that may not experience it in their day to day lives.”

At a time where we are all trying to recharge, some of us will be looking for a new product to replenish, pamper and help aid our best selves I ask Hayley what her ‘go to’ products are, that not only make her feel her best self but keep her mental health in its best place.

“I’m a huge fan of just taking a bath with bath salts, every night if I can do it. But what I love about it, is it’s like the oldest trick in the book, and it’s also one of the cheapest. I remember doing a Cosmo interview when I was about 20, which first of all, thinking about it, it’s funny, because it’s so not my world. I remember feeling like I had to say all these cool, expensive products that I was into, and these very elaborate sort of schemes to make myself feel good and look good, or whatever. But the easiest and best one in the book is Epsom salts.

I also like products that deal with the actual cellular structure and that can affect your chemistry. And Epsom salts do that. So there’s like a nice mental health boost that you get from it and alongside the initial intention behind it, that it feels good. That’s like the number one trick for me. I also really reach for a lot of different essential oils that I can rub on my pulse points. I think it’s cool that it’s now becoming more accessible, and more mainstream.

It’s great, as some are personalised to you whether you want something for anxiety or even period cramps. As far as beauty products go, I’m very into the things that we’re making right now. I love the way it looks aesthetically but more so I love the ingredients that go into it, like our Primer spray, it’s just this beautiful floral citrus scent.”

Maintaining our integrity has always been at the forefront of what we do at HATC, so it’s encouraging to hear Hayley’s similar ethical standpoint when it comes to ‘Good Dye Young.’ To have a groundbreaking company place its community and customers at the forefront of their mind is the wholesome approach we’d love to see more of in the age of irresponsible influencer marketing. 

“Owning a company and being able to stand behind the product is so crucial to me because for my mental health, I have to know that I’m not a liar. When I was a teenager, the word sellout was the dirtiest thing to me, like, that word was so triggering to me. So I think in a lot of ways that’s fueled my fire to always reach the long term goal. A lot of times I’ve put myself through the wringer because I have punk rock guilt and I have to do things the right way. Not the fastest way. Not the easy way. Not the cheap way. But even if it costs me my sanity, I’m going to go on route.”

FLOWERS for VASES/descansos’ was released mid pandemic, a time many artists struggled with the unprecedented pressure to be creative while struggling to come out of a black hole. 

“There was a very strange pressure that I had never felt before. I found writing Flowers for Vases a necessity. Saying that I had just finished making Petals for Armor, which was a 15 song project and a lot of planning that didn’t ever come to fruition because we weren’t able to do it safely. So the last two years have been incredibly prolific years for me. I was always afraid that getting older and trying to find balance in my life would lead to a boring musical career because that’s the myths that we’re taught. 

You find more balance but you still struggle, especially if you deal with mental health issues. It’s all a spectrum. Life skills are so fucking hard, you know. Success and relationships, it doesn’t matter any of it because you’re still in here.” Hayley points at her head. “This is where you exist. So I don’t think I would have been able to make it through the world of lockdown without making a record. Saying that there was a pressure to come out of it with something to show. I think that’s why I’m glad I’m not planning on touring this record. I kind of just wanted it out there. I don’t care if people play it, I don’t care if people love it or hate it. It was for me to do and that’s been the best part about the experience”

With ‘Good Dye Young’ taking off so quickly, and so much of her time I wondered whether that would be the end of her solo journey for now and she will be prioritising for the next couple of years.

“I’m so happy I got the solo albums out of my system. The only thing I care about other than the company growing is Paramore. It’s interesting to have been off the road since the end of 2018. I immediately started working on Petals for Armor and then almost fell into Flowers for Vases. I think a lot of people who are maybe more casual listeners presume this meant that I was done with my band and this is a new direction but it’s only made me more excited and more passionate about the work that I get to do with my bandmates. Because honestly, I’m f*cking tired of doing every instrument and writing on the last record myself.” She laughs, ”It was a great exercise and I’m so proud of it but I miss my guys. I miss being in that world and being in that mindset and having people who are vastly talented in what they do. The only thing that I care about being next up is, what am I going to do with Paramore? And then what am I doing to do to make Good Dye Young the best company that it can be.”

Hayley beams, both relieved and content in the experiences she had writing both her solo albums. It’s apparent the positive impact both they and Good Dye Young is having on her life. It can’t be easy stepping away and hitting pause on Paramore knowing it would stir fans into a frenzy, but I can tell you for sure, there is currently nothing more she would love than returning to her bandmates and continuing Paramore’s journey.

Online copies available in store!

Words: Alice Gee

Photographer: Lindsey Byrnes

HMU: Brian J O’Connor

Stylist: Lindsey Hartman

HATC Magazine Issue 3 Raleigh Ritchie

Raleigh Ritchie? Jacob Anderson? Andy? We uncover the man behind the many names.

Met with a beaming but shy smile, both Raleigh (Jacob) and I catch up over zoom to talk about Andy, becoming a new dad and his mental health journey, leaving no stone unturned.

I ask if I’m cool to call him Jacob and how he and his wife Aisling are coping with becoming new parents. It’s a difficult life change in normal circumstances, never mind a global lockdown when family can’t pop over and give you a moment of respite.  With lockdown starting to ease over the coming months, he shares how excited he is for his little girl to meet friends and family.

“Were getting through the lockdown. We’re very lucky, she’s just amazing. She’s one of the most fun human beings I’ve ever met in my life. I wouldn’t have wanted to spend this time with anybody else. It would be nice to have other people around and come and see your baby, which we haven’t been able to do, so she doesn’t know a lot of people very well which has been hard. But she’s amazing. We have the most amazing baby, I really can’t complain.”

As we chat more about kids and childhood I’m reminded of one of my favourite tracks from his new album ‘Big & Scared’ which addresses some of his fears when it comes to balancing parenthood with his mental health issues. I have my own fears when it comes to having children as someone with Bipolar Disorder, so I was interested to see how Jacob handled the anxiety of becoming a new father.

“You don’t know what will happen, but if they do experience similar things you’ll know how to speak to them. I feel like I was that’s something that I’ve often really worried about. Especially when people say that babies are so instinctive. They’re like so intuitive and I often worry if she picks up on my emotions. If she ever picks up on my anxiety. But ultimately, if she does, then I can explain it to her. I feel like I have a vocabulary now where I can speak to her about it in a healthy way. My instinct is always to hide it but my wife said to me it’s good for her to see it sometimes. Because, as long as you’re okay with being around her when it’s happening you can show it It’s not scary. It’s so human. So I think that’s a great way to be able to set an example”

“I’m going to try I try my best. You know how it is. It’s not always easy to rationalise in that way but when I’m at my best I can.”

Jacob, who goes by Raleigh Ritchie when releasing music, is no stranger to mental health struggles. No matter which track of his you play you get a frank and honest glimpse into his life, what makes him tick, and the challenges he’s overcome.

“My relationship with my own mental health issues is fairly recent. It’s been there my whole life I just didn’t know what was going on. I just thought that I was strange and that I was different from other people. I would notice things that other people were saying that I just couldn’t connect to, I couldn’t understand that sometimes other people are not saying how they really feel about things. It’s not that you’re weird, you just haven’t found your tribe yet. You haven’t found the other people that suffer from the same things. Not that we’re all a big club, I’m just a strong believer that everybody on the planet could do with therapy, and could do with engaging with that kind of language.”

“I like to think I’m not struggling with bad mental health. Which I don’t think is entirely true. It’s just that I think now I’m more cognizant of it. Whereas when I was a child, in fact from a very young age, I was really struggling with it and it was pretty debilitating at times. So that specific relationship to my own brain has only really started in the last three, four years. It’s weird because I’ve been writing songs since I was 14, writing about anxiety and depression without realising I was writing about it. I recently found a bunch of my notebooks that I thought were just gone or just lost and it’s really interesting seeing things that as an adult, I didn’t even realise I was thinking about when I was a teenager and some of these things went that far back. I just want to give myself a big old cuddle, be like, it’s gonna be alright.”

I listen to Jacob and find I have similar recollections of my teen years. It’s a notoriously difficult time, but in recent years with social media and the glamorisation of mental illness in the media, we are seeing more and more young people struggle with anxiety and depression. He talks candidly about his experiences with self-harm and the effect it still has on him today. 

“I was watching a film from the mid-90s the other day and the little boy in the film was self-harming. And it was quite similar to the way that I used to self-harm. At the time I never would have called it that because my understanding of self-harm was one thing and there was only ever one kind of portrayal of it on TV or the way that people spoke about it. So I would never have characterised it in that way. Now I understand what I was doing. I understand what it is, I understand what that instinct is. It’s interesting that I feel, as I’m getting older, I’m starting to see those things more, even though they’ve been around forever.

I’m working with a charity at the moment who provide counsellors to schools. These kids need a space to speak with someone who isn’t their teacher or parent. It’s also elective so you can, if you are a child or young person and you feel like you need to speak to somebody about something, then you can anonymously say that you want to go and speak to somebody and they’re there. The charity works all over the country and I just think wouldn’t it be amazing if we had a system where it didn’t need that to be funded from outside sources like charities alone” 

As he opens up to me I commend Jacob on how comfortable he feels baring his soul to someone he just met 20 minutes ago, even braver he wants it all on the record for you to hear. But if you break down Andy you essentially gain access to all his thoughts, both highs and lows.

“I’m still trying to figure it out as I go along and check in on myself. I have very low self-esteem which is something that people are always really surprised to learn, especially about anybody that does anything that’s is remotely public. Just because I’m working in an industry where you’re constantly being compared to other people doesn’t mean I don’t have issues with my self-esteem. Perception is big currency in the music industry which I’ve really had to wrestle with. To the industry, I’m a songwriter, I exist on the basis that everything is subjective. Like you’re writing about a subjective experience and you’re trying to articulate yourself In the hope, or at I’m writing this in the hope that other people are like ‘Oh, you’re like me’. Because that’s what music did for me when I was growing up. When I couldn’t connect with family or friends there were musicians and filmmakers and artists that I felt understood me. So I feel like that’s partly my responsibility to take forward. Saying that I’ve really struggled with it. I still do, especially the comparisons between other people. It may be a cliche, but I put my heart and soul into my music about quite fragile things. And it’s hard to reason with the idea of like somebody saying, that isn’t good enough.

So you almost have to remove yourself. You don’t want to think about that too much. Because then you’re not being true to yourself. Particularly with the last album because I didn’t have to discuss it too much with anybody like I did the first album. But I’ve realised If those feelings are there, then I feel like I know that I’ve told the truth. I feel like I know, I’ve done what I was supposed to do.”

Jacob has two very distinct aliases through which he shares his work, I wanted to find out whether this was a conscious effort to separate his worlds. 

“100%. I think at first, it was a symptom of perception. Even though I’ve been making music the whole time, long before I did any kind of acting, I was really conscious of how people would perceive me. I think, particularly in this country that we really love to perpetuate an underdog narrative which I think is really unhealthy. I think it encourages people with low self-esteem to feel like they have to stay in that place. To succeed, you have to be struggling, you have to be suffering, you have to be at rock bottom. And if you’re not at the bottom, then you’re too privileged to need help or you’re too privileged to be worth anybody’s ears. So at first, the label really wanted me to use my own name and I just didn’t want to do it. With the name Raleigh Ritchie I thought a lot to myself am I credible? But now I’m just glad that I’ve got another name because I think it’s helped me say what I want and not feel self-conscious about somebody assigning it to my name. The irony being that Raleigh Ritchie says all the stuff that I don’t feel like Jacob can”.

Andy is one of the best albums to come out of 2020, in her review one of our writers Jade Poultney called it “An encapsulating diary you can’t put down, each song retelling a different stage of his journey through therapy dealing with mental health in an increasingly clearer way. It’s melancholy, it’s sad, it looks at depression, anxiety, loss and uncertainty but no track is miserable, they are upbeat, light and pleasant to listen to.”

“Andy was my granddad’s nickname. His full name was Basil Anderson but people called him Andy for short. A friend of mine started calling me Andy which made me feel connected to him again. At the time my granddad’s house was separate so it was a real safe place for me. At the time it felt like he’s he was a human being who wasn’t complicated. So when I wrote the album, it felt like it felt really me., I just wanted to call it something that reflected that. I would have called it Jacob if I didn’t think that it was so corny. So calling it Andy was my way to have my cake and eat it.” 

With our conversation focusing on what’s helped form the narrative behind his music, I wanted to find out what works as the medicine for him.

“When I was in a really bad place, I would try and express it, and I couldn’t articulate myself. I found things confusing or overwhelming and It would manifest in unhealthy things. But when I could get myself to a place where I could just write it down where it’s not just swimming around in my head, it made sense all of sudden.”

“My daughter has been really good for me, not that it’s her responsibility to be. I know there’s gonna be times where we’ll test each other, I’m sure, but just looking after her is a really good way of me feeling present. Obviously, not everybody has a child but for me that’s been really helpful, for me I find myself living in the past or future so It’s forced me to be in the moment.” 

Andy and I’m Not Okay But I Know I’m Going To Be is avaliable to buy and stream now. 

Words: Alice Gee

Photography: Matthew Beard

LP Interview Issue 3

It was an unmitigated pleasure to spend my evening with LP discussing all things musical and delving deeper into some intimate subjects. Since hitting the music scene they have has international success with the smash hit ‘Lost On You’, written for mega-starts like Cher, Rihanna and Céline Dion, and released album after album each one filled with unique flares and melodies. I was in the presence of true musical royalty and if I’m being honest, massively fangirling. 

Currently based in the States I first had to check-in and see how they were coping through these unprecedented times and see if the US has reached any semblance of normality. 

“It’s about the same, it’s just weird. In the beginning, a lot of people were never so involved in listening or reading the news, I mean, yeah, I did, but not like I was the first six months and I could feel myself going down this rabbit hole. I don’t know about you guys, but a lot of people watched a documentary called ‘The Social Dilemma’. It was talking about how you can easily go down these rabbit holes and how your phone will just feed you like people are finding themselves suddenly, ‘Trumpers’ that maybe or definitely weren’t, and then they’re like, he might have a point.”

Since she brought up Trump, our chat turned to the media predicament in the US and I was eager to understand more. “I don’t know what it’s like in other countries but we have a real media problem here. Even since Trump was booted out, we have Fox News, which is just a pillar of absolute bullsh*t. They just don’t care and are just unconscionably f***ing throwing our entire moral compass out the window. Nobody has any idea what is going on right now. I mean, people do but it’s very easy to lose your way. I think that’s the thing, everybody has succumb to fear and doubt and loathing. I am no different. 

“The biggest thing for me, because I’m usually always on tour and stuff, but I just have to stay in the moment more, and not kind of reduce my expectations. It’s kind of like watching a watched pot never boils like you just keep trying to go when it ends it’s like it’s not ending right now. So just kind of accept that this is where we’re at right now. And it’s going to end and, staying buoyant and positive for ourselves and other people is. I think community is really important right now, talking to people and being open about your feelings.”

I got exactly what LP meant with the rabbit-hole analogy. Throughout this time I slipped down the rabbit hole and got entirely obsessed by the news to the limit where it felt unhealthy and required a separation. I never followed the news to the degree I do presently but I did regularly keep up to date. We spoke about how my mindset has developed and how this experience has evoked more of a carefree feeling to seize the day and live in the moment.

“I think, what I’ve previously learned in my life from my lifestyle, my sexuality, and my career is there’s a lot of downtime. I got accustomed to waiting. I think on a positive note one of the things I was happy about myself in this whole thing was discovering I’m good at adapting, kind of because I’ve had to.  I’m sure a lot of people, told me not to complain because there are people so much worse off and I’m so lucky I had a very, very big year coming - the biggest of my life thus far. So, when everything was put on hold, I think in the past, I might have, like, flipped the f**k out and been like, ‘Oh my god, now this is gonna happen.’ Then I just learned to think of this year as the sowing of the seeds, fertilising and planting seeds that will become fruit in a year or so, or less.” 

“I had a song, a couple of songs actually, but one main song that changed my life, a great deal and I wrote it when one of the loves of my life was trying to leave me. My record company went from being behind me completely to not even caring. All these new people came in so everything was like sand falling through my hands. I remember thinking to myself before the song hit, God, that was a terrible year, 2014 what a terrible f***ing year. Then I realised, I wrote a bunch of songs which changed my life and things really kicked in. And so I try to think of this time like that for me and everybody you know, like learning what’s important, learning about yourself. Getting some mental tools or you know, relationships, not romantic or maybe romantic. But just like things that will kind of bear fruit. It helps to think of things like that, I think that we so often are so focused on the negative things and ignore the positive” 

I wanted to know how LP sustained creativity throughout the pandemic.  “I felt like it was cool for me because normally I would have had to work on this record from the road. I was home, and actually, I was able to even write more songs and work on them. Being home allowed it to be more hands-on, I wrote a bunch more songs that I was able to put into the pot to choose from. I had a bigger repertoire to choose from but I can’t think of anything more inspiring than a worldwide experience. It kind of never happened before you know, even though a lot of sad stuff has occured we have never been more connected to each other. No one’s gonna go like, ‘Hey, I remember the band.’ Oh, yeah. No, I don’t remember we had a pandemic!” 

Although LP’s worldwide 2020 headline tour was unfortunately deferred due to COVID-19, they announced a  Virtual World Tour to keep fans vibing, allowing listeners from across the globe to view collectively, unite and enjoy the hits, brand-new music, and fresh covers. I asked how the event went and how LP felt about the experience. “It was amazing. You know it’s weird to finish a song and have nobody clapping. I guess sometimes it had happened before when I was coming up and there’s like two people in the audience. But it is a weird experience to go like, ‘thank you, thank you’ and … nothing …just crickets. It’s a lot of acting there, but I knew people were with me, even though it wasn’t psychically, it felt good. It’s wild thinking of people, just seeing you in concert from their bedroom.”

‘One Last Time’ has recently hit the airwaves, this tune demands you to have it blasting as you create tonnes of memories amidst friends. LP described the sentiment following the release of this track. “I feel like it’s kind of right on time, it’s about enjoying what we have, reflecting on how good some things were and the fact you can do it all again. It’s like that old song ‘Those Were The Days’. Those days, my friends, that kind of sh*t. We have to remember that these are the things that we’ll be talking about in the future you know.”

“One of my managers had a baby at the end of 2019 and she just walked the first time and because they were both home they got it on video. This kid has had both of them as a captive audience this whole year. And it’s like, wow, like not many kids get that these days. So there will probably be some kids thinking back like wow that was the best time of my life when I had both my parents around all the time.”

“You know there’s just always something, not to be toxically positive as some people say, but there’s always something positive to be culled from what’s going on. And I think the song is trying to encapsulate that. It’s got a melancholy to it, but its also tyring to remind you fondly what you have.”

I adore the latest single ‘How Low Can You Go’ and even more so its a gorgeous music video, the shots were mesmerizing filmed at Hotel El Ganzo Mexico and directed by Eric Maldin. I ask what the inspiration behind the video was and why she chose that location. 

“We didn’t write that song down there but we did write a lot of songs down there, around Cabo San Juan, where El Ganzo is this really cool, beautiful area. I believe that Elon Musk currently bought up a lot of property down there. People go to Cabo San Lucas a lot, but Cabo San Juan is more chill, and not as many people know, about it and it’s very easy to get to from LA.

“It’s the most non-specific record on the album. It’s an amalgamation of several experiences that are basically what the nightlife experience seems to me. Because I think sometimes in the heart of having a quote on quote ‘great time’, especially like partying and all that stuff there’s also a little bit of like, Oh, am I going too far now? Am I like, on a downward spiral?”

Head Above The Clouds came to be to create safe spaces where prejudice around mental illness and suffering could be abolished. I wrapped up the conversation by asking LP what can improve in regards to mental health discourse and how we can cultivate more awareness and demolish the stigma.

“I think it is being taught in school from a young age and then reinforced by educators and people. It’s something that’s pretty much inherent in almost everybody, you know, a bad day is still a mental health day, and depending on what and who you come in contact with they can go down, like we were talking about earlier on in the conversation, a rabbit hole. The perception of what’s okay and what’s normal is so thin and it’s so easy to dip to the other side and suddenly find ourselves grasping for positive things. Everybody has everything inside them and what you’re living at the surface is not necessarily what’s down in there. We need more empathy and compassion and remember that it can be us at any second and know that it’s not a stigma, it’s just a thing.

“Mental health is a nice way to put it, but still calling it that categories it as a health issue specifically. It’s just an issue. Everybody has these pockets of depression and doubt. So we have to just be aware of that and be kind about it.”

One Last Time available now

Words: Bronte Evans

Photographer: Ryan Jay

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