INTERVIEW: Gavin Haley on new album ‘I hate you, Don’t Leave Me’

Gavin Haley
Credit: Brandon Jordan

Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Gavin Haley is not afraid to show his emotions and be vulnerable with and through his lyrics and the stories they tell. Nowhere is this more evident than on his debut album 'I hate you, Don't Leave Me', released last month.

Writing the collection was a huge part of his therapy last year, and he spoke to XS Noize about what inspired it, who he'd most love to tour with and what the remainder of the year has in store for him.

Sum yourself up in 5 words, please, Gavin.

Positive. Passionate. Sunshine. Introspective. Smushy.

You're a former pro-cyclist. What made you step away from that career and into the world of music?  

There were many reasons I stepped away. My body was in a very vulnerable place when I was 19, especially my immune system. Years of training and injury had caught up with me; emotionally, it was the first time I felt checked out. I loved to race, and my body wasn't allowing me to go as fast as I needed to. Music was there for me through that and allowed me to channel my creativity in other ways than the bike. It was this perfect storm and a gut feeling I knew I couldn't ignore. Two months after racing stopped, I was already making trips to Los Angeles.

Is there a story behind your most recent single, "Mine"? How did you come up with the concept of and for its video?

The video for "Mine" took a while to get right. We wanted to show how a relationship can turn someone who's normally positive or happy and kill their personality in social settings. We even experimented with a split screen of me doing the same things at the same time but with different people. And showing the opposite moods I was experiencing. Even when things are bad for you, we can become attached. The video for "Mine" shows the moment you realise something isn't working. I think the dancing moments mixed with the shots of just us two together creates that world. I love the way it came out.

How'd you come up with the title of your debut album, 'i hate you, Don't Leave Me'? 

A lot of late-night conversations with my sister about similar things we were going through. That feeling of loving someone to infinity but them not noticing the effort or amount you care. Two extreme emotions exist together—being scared to be alone after putting so much of yourself into someone. This came up in conversation, and I knew immediately that was the title for my album.

Which song on the album would you say is currently your favourite and why?

"Paper Walls." I'm really proud of my pen on this song. It flows so well, and I love how we touched on a topic not everyone is willing to talk about. One of my biggest idols is Ed Sheeran, and it's the first time I wrote a song where I think if he heard it, he'd be proud of me.

How does this album differ from your previous collections, the EP's 'Long Game' and 'Unfolding'? How does it showcase your growth as an artist? 

I don't think this question is something I can answer for myself. I know this is a level up from anything I've created, and I continue to spend time on my craft. I'll let the fans say the rest.

You've amassed close to 100 million streams to date - what do you think it is about you and your music that connects so strongly with fans and listeners? 

Oh jeez, haha, I don't know, but I'm very thankful for all the support. I know I'm not scared to sound soft. I really experience my emotions deeply. A lot of times, it's too much and all at once. My music is a place for me to put my experiences; the better I get at being direct, the more it connects.

Earlier this year, you toured North America with Tate McRae. What was that like, and how did you get the offer to join her?

Being on the road is the reward of this process for me. I was so thankful to be on for the west coast dates. Her fans and her team were the best and treated me with a lot of kindness.

If you could choose two acts, living or dead, to support you on your own tour, who would you pick and why?  

I want to tour with James Taylor and Ed Sheeran. It would be an acoustic guitar lover's dream.

Are there any headline tour or performance plans you can tell me about?

TBA.

You've been championed by, among others, People who hailed you as being among "The Talented Emerging Artists Making Their Mark on the Musical Landscape." How important is praise and support like that to you? What's the nicest thing a fan or critic has ever said or written about you?

It feels good to be seen. I don't always take the time to be present with things as I should. It's always what's next; how can we get over this hill or accomplish that goal? It's been a journey, and I'm very thankful for the way it's going and what I'm learning. Fans sharing their own experiences with my music through the ups and downs of life is very special to me. I don't have one I can narrow in on.

To what extent do you engage with social media, and how do you feel about it? Do you believe it's possible for a band or artist to achieve success today without being on Twitter, Facebook and the like? 

I'm very engaged, more than I should be. I find that even if you don't want to, the more time you spend on a platform, the more it becomes addicting. I love them because I can stay connected with my fans and keep up with things. But it does take a toll on my mental health. I find it a place where people only share the good, and it can make you feel as though your reality is harder than others. It's not real life, and I often have to tell myself that.

Finally, with the album out now, what else does 2022 have in store? What is on your annual bucket list that you still have and want to tick off?

Tour and traveling!

Listen to ‘I hate you, Don’t Leave Me’ - BELOW:

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