Musician and Songwriter Hayley Sabella

Musician and Songwriter Hayley Sabella courtesy of Allison DiMaggio

Today on Artist Strong we welcome Hayley Sabella, a musician who has just opened her Kickstarter: The King Solomon Project.

Artist Strong: Hi Hayley! Welcome to Artist Strong. Can you describe to readers a bit about yourself?

Hi! Thank you for having me. I am a singer-songwriting musician and part time organic farmer. At this point in time, an average week usually includes 2 days of planting, harvesting, cultivating, and running a farm stand for a local organic farm, and then I go home, rinse off, and play 2-3 gigs.

Carrie: Can you describe your Kickstarter to Artist Strong readers?

The King Solomon Project, launched August 22, is a 29 day, $10,000 Kickstarter campaign to gather funds for my first full-length record. The project gets its name from the album’s title track, “King Solomon”, and this is the dream: to move to Maine for the month of October, spend a month tracking at Anchour’s studio, involve friends and musicians in the music making, and then to document the process via film to share at my CD release.

Carrie: What/who is Anchour?

Anchour is a newly formed collaborative team of four highly creative people, all of whom have extensive experience in various fields, such as audio production & engineering, brand identity & web design, filmmaking and visual arts. Joshua Ray is my main connection to this group—he produced my first release, Farm Fingers EP. Anchour also includes Victoria Richland, Stephen Gilbert and Jonathan Gilbert. With their help, I hope to have a finished full-length record, a website, a brand identity and a documentary by February 2014.

Carrie: How does collaboration help and/or hinder your art?

Before I say anything else, I want to share how excited I am to be working with Anchour. It’s hard to for me to imagine better people to be working with for my first full-length record. They’re all super talented & incredibly supportive, but most importantly, they seem to understand the heart of what I want to create. I haven’t found any ways that they may hinder my art, but they can certainly help. They have the skills, experience and equipment to do things I just couldn’t on my own. I write songs, play them, and I have ideas for how I’d like to produce King Solomon, but I don’t know how to do things like edit footage or design websites.

Album art work for Farm Fingers EP

Album art work for Farm Fingers EP

Carrie: When did you first discover your love of music?

I grew up in a musical family. Both my parents were music teachers and in bands, and so music always seemed to be a part of normal life (kind of like Lord of the Rings… It didn’t occur to me until I was 18 or so that some people’s parents didn’t read them fantasy novels at bedtime.) When the power was out, we used to pass the time singing songs in the dark, or when we had company, my dad would break out his keyboard and entertain our guests. Consequently, I never didn’t sing, but I casually picked up the guitar to accompany my voice when I was about 12. Little by little, it became more serious. Like any normal kid, I really started to form an identity out of things I loved when I was in high school, and so that’s when music became front and center. But I think it’s best to say that I’m actually still discovering my love for music. We have a funny relationship, music and I. I know deep down I love it, but I’ve had phases where I’ve done my best to shoo it away. Somehow it keeps finding it’s way back in, so I’m rolling with it, and discovering more about what it means to me, and figuring out how to integrate it into my life in a healthy, life-giving way.

Carrie: Could you walk us through the process of writing your music?

It seems that there are two kinds of songwriters: word people and music people. By nature, I’m more of a music person. My training (I was an English major in college) has made me into a word person. And so I tend to fall pretty much in the middle, which means that my process sometimes starts with experimenting with sound first, then finding the words to match a musical idea, but in my experience, I’m more likely to find roadblocks traveling that route. If I start with words—with having something to say—then it’s generally easier for me to complete my thoughts, adding sound as I go. But it’s not an exact science. There are songs I dig deep for and put a lot of effort into writing, and then occasionally I’ll hear a song, words and music, as if someone else wrote it, and I just have get it down on paper. The only trouble with taking the inspiration route is that she is like a fickle, finicky animal, and she gets to decide when she wants to stop by.

Carrie: What do you wish you knew that you now know about your creative process?

I wish someone told me, “finish the damn song.” An artist’s biggest hang ups are fear and laziness. Fear of hating the outcome has prevented far too many musicians, including myself, from finishing songs. But here’s the problem: you don’t get better at writing songs by not writing songs. Inspiration is beautiful, but if you only write when she decides to come visit, she’ll rob you of the opportunity to work hard for a great song. I don’t want to say it too loud, because she might hear me I want her to visit me often, but this is what I’ve found: you don’t HAVE to be inspiration’s bitch.

So finish the damn song.

Carrie: How does your life experience and emotional state feed into your art?

I’d like to think I hide this well, but I am a moody, moody person. And so inevitably that spills over into my art. But I try to view my moods as a source of energy, and harness them in such a way that they become creatively productive. Sometimes it works, and sometimes my moods, just like anybody else’s, are destructive instead. But I try to remember that they pass, and meanwhile, I may get to make something cool out of the process.

Picture of the farm in winter time

Picture of the farm in winter time

Carrie: Can you share one challenge you’ve faced as a musician and how you’ve dealt with it?

A huge challenge, which is in no way unique to me is an artist, is learning to graciously blend art and commerce. I took business courses in college and I hated them so much I nearly dropped out of school. But now that I’m applying business principles to what I love, I’m learning to embrace the fact that I’m lucky enough to do something I love so much, it’s even worth learning to be a savvy businesswoman.

I’ve dealt with that by drinking many cups of coffee, accepting support from loved ones, and remembering the times my unwillingness to be business-smart has hurt me. And I look at it this way: just because I don’t like weeding, doesn’t make it any less a part of my job as a farmer. If I want healthy, flourishing plants that grow delicious fruit, I need to take care them. I see business as weeding for music.

Carrie: Who/what inspires you?

My inspiration tends to come from nature, specifically observing seasonal changes, and interacting with it through farm work. The Farm Fingers EP, you’ll notice, is 4 songs, and it’s safe to say each song reflects the seasons in this order: summer, fall, winter, spring. I found a lot of inspiration in what I read in college, including the writings of  Dostoevsky, Thoreau, and the book of Ecclesiastes, which was said to have been written by King Solomon, hence the title track of my someday-record. As far as musicians go, Sufjan Stevens, Bon Iver, mewithoutYou, Joe Pug and Anais Mitchell are extremely inspiring to me.

Kickstarter artwork

Kickstarter artwork

Carrie: Have any advice about using Kickstarter?

The King Solomon Project is my first attempt to crowd-source a project, and I’m presently only 6 days into it, so I am no expert, but I’m finding that a creative video goes a long way.  Also, I try to stay focused, and say as much as I can in as few words as possible. I guess my advice is this: communicate your dream, but respect people’s time. There are so many great projects out there and opportunities to support one another. Understand that yours is only one, but do what you can to quickly and effectively demonstrate what makes yours special.  

Carrie: How do you define creativity?

Creativity is a seed. It’s this tiny, little magical thing, and given the right conditions, it might just grow into a bigger thing.

Interested in helping Hayley realize her album? Be sure to go to her Kickstarter to share in the love. On our publication day of this interview, Hayley has already reached 6,000 USD. Will you help her be apart of this goal?! Or, follow Hayley on her musical journey via Facebook. Best wishes from Artist Strong Hayley, thank you for sharing your Creative Spirit!

BE COURAGEOUSLY CREATIVE: Have you acknowledged that business is part of the creative spirit?! What can you do to help better realize your creative goals?