Hayley Marsten

by the partae

Congratulations on the release of ‘Bittersweet At Best’! How does it feel to have new music out there? Thank you! It’s so exciting! I have been working on this song for a really long time and to finally be able to share it in all it’s melancholic glory is amazing!

It’s not the first piece of music from you in 2022 – how does the experience of making this track compare to ‘I’m Fine, Thanks’? I actually worked on them one after the other. On fine thanks we had a I think about 30 backing vocal tracks to create that waterfall of ‘fine’ and a lot of overlaying lead parts from me. So when we moved onto Bittersweet it felt like a walk in the park because it was so intentionally stripped back. 

Tell us about the team you worked with on ‘Bittersweet At Best’: who were they and what was it like to work with them? The same team who worked on ‘I’m Fine, Thanks’ worked on this one, Cody McWaters, Dan Sugars, Kieran Stevenson, Michael Muchow and of course, me! It’s so wonderful to work with them because they are some of the closet people in my life and know me and understand me so well that it just makes for a really safe space to create. 

How do you think your songwriting approach has changed since releasing your album Spectacular Heartbreak (if so, how)? I think the only thing that might’ve changed is I trust myself a bit more. I feel like when I was writing SH I would get halfway through a song and it wouldn’t be quite right and I would immediately go to the idea that I needed a co-writer to finish it. Which worked out pretty well on SH of course! But I think for this record I have put a bit more effort into pushing myself to try to be my own editor. 

‘Bittersweet At Best’ feels like such an emotional track: do you pull from real life experiences when writing your material? Definintely! Funnily enough this song just kind of fell out and I didn’t actually think much of it when I first wrote it. It wasn’t until I was tracking some demos with Dan and Kieran and I had jumped on at the last minute to do this one by myself. I looked over at them when I had finished and they were both about to cry. So I figured that maybe the reason it was so easy to write because so much of this song feels like it was just sitting in my subconscious. I always feel like the only way I can write something special is writing what I know. 

Do you have any specific reference records or artists you find yourself returning to with each writing session? Not so much when I go into writing sessions but certainly when we are working up a song in the studio. I think my cornerstone for incredible writing and experimenting is and will always be Taylor Swift. Her writing has always told stories no matter what genre she is playing in. And that’s something I always hang onto when I’m creating. 

What’s coming up with you as we head into the rest of the year, with your music, that is exciting you? Right now I’m finishing up my second album that I crowdfunded earlier this year with the same team I’ve been working with on these last two songs. I’m also playing some of the new record live at festivals like Deni Ute Muster (September 30) and Groundwater Country Music Festival (October 30), I’ll also be doing my annual christmas show which I’ll be annoucing next month! Then gearing up for a big album release and tour next year!

Can fans expect a new album on the horizon? Yes indeed! Album 2 is on the way in 2023!




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