Hayley McKay is a singer/songwriter from Darlington who has immersed herself in music and the performing arts throughout her young life. She has just released a brilliant new single called ‘Unspoken’ and we got to speak to her fresh from filming a slot for television down in Bristol.
How did filming go today?
It was good! It’s my first time in Bristol. It was a nice view and good fun!
Your new song ‘Unspoken’ is out now. How would you describe it?
It’s quite a heartfelt ballad with piano and haunting guitar in the background, and my voice is quite powerful out front with nice reverb on it.
What was the inspiration behind it?
I wrote it with two other songwriters from Brighton – Pete Howard and Matthew Prizzi – who produced it. We were all on the same wavelength for the song [and] we knew what it was all about. It was from, kind of, personal experience. It is something that most people can connect with.
The video is online now, set on quite a windswept beach. Was that enjoyable to make?
It was in Northumberland, just behind Bamburgh Castle. It was in November so it was cold [but] we had a laugh [and it was good fun]. We ended the day with some fish and chips and we were all in there with our coats and hats for half an hour until we had to take them off!
Are you also working on an album?
We’ll soon be working on the next single and at the start of summer we’ll be recording the album. I’m really excited as I’ve got lots of new material and a band now as well. I’m excited to share this new sound and new songs with people!
How is the writing going?
Some of these songs I’ve had for a while, whilst some are brand new. I love the writing and creative aspect of it and seeing my song growing from a few words on the page to the full production is fantastic.
You’ve also had live dates recently put a headline gig next month. How are preparations going for that?
Yes, good! That’s on the 9th February in the Cluny. It’s a great venue. We’ve been rehearsing and we’re really excited for it.
For those who’ve not seen you live yet, how would you describe your live sound?
It’s a range of songs; some upbeat, some slow. We’ve got a violinist who is amazing and we’ve got keys, a bit of synth [and] a bit of piano. My voice is country-ish so some of the songs are British Country, but they’ve all got a pop feel to them [that’s] quite catchy. We’ve got guitar and drums, so it’s a bit of a new sound really! I think people will definitely have a good time listening to the music. We get people up dancing!
Are you a fan of British country?
I love country music. I went out to Nashville a couple of years ago. I Love Dolly Parton; she’s a story-teller. I love listening to country music because of the story-telling aspect. It’s heartfelt. I’d say my voice is quite country, but not all ‘yee-hah’ American country. It’s a new kind of country sound that we’ve got and something that’s naturally formed.
You’ve toured with Scouting For Girls, Tom Jones, Tony Christie and many others. Was it great to be asked to gig with such acts?
It’s been really good and they’ve been fantastic gigs. It’s just been great to support such big acts as you’re drawing in new fans and it’s just a fantastic experience and some of the stages have been brilliant. [The] Tom Jones [gig] was in a massive tent on the Isle of Man and the biggest tent I’ve ever been in! I’ve supported Scouting For Girls a couple of times now. The second time was at the highest pub in England and it was snowing that night, and it was absolutely packed! Each gig is different really!
You studied at The British and Irish Institute of Modern Music. What was that experience like?
I went to the one in Brighton and Brighton was such a creative place. It was great being around such a place as it’s really inspiring, and lots of people inspire you. I was song-writing with like-minded musicians. And I did a course called ‘Access to Music’ about artist development and again that was great to be around like-minded creative people.
Finally do you have any big ambitions for the rest of the year?
It would be great to get some of my songs played on national radio and have a wider audience. I love travelling with music so to travel more with the band and get some big festivals [would be great]. It’s all very exciting and last year was full of great gigs and opportunities so things are looking really bright!