Ahead of a European tour taking in a show here on campus at the Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts, Haley Fohr spoke to Tom Furnival-Adams about what inspired her latest record, and why making music is more complicated than it used to be.
Reaching for Indigo was inspired by a moment of realisation that fundamentally transformed you. Does that experience continue to shape you?
Yeah, absolutely. It was a pivotal moment and a special moment, so for that reason I am grateful and glad that I created this totem towards it. I didn’t really have a moment of affirmation that some people get in their early twenties, and it felt like the first time in my life where the world was like: “yes, this is what you’re supposed to be doing; this is where you’re supposed to be”.
When you released the album, you said “Something about expression feels so risky and sobering these days.” Can you explain what you meant by that?
In today’s climate, art is almost the most important thing, but at the same time, with all the civil rights issues that we are dealing with - in America, especially - it can feel so frivolous and loaded. Everything ripples in ways you don’t expect, and making any sort of charged statement feels pretty risky.
How do you approach songwriting?
I utilise different techniques depending on the record and where I am in life. With this album, I actually wrote every song on guitar and vocals, and then my good friend Cooper Crain helped me recontextualise them on other instruments, and helped with the accompaniments and arrangements. We spent a lot of time trying to expand the record’s sonic palette. But my voice is my main instrument; I use it a lot when I’m writing harmonies.
Are you familiar with Brighton?
I have been to Brighton, but only opening for other bands, like Julia Holter and Bill Callahan. I’ve met some really nice townfolk; just strangers after the show, gotten some pizza or fish and chips and had a fire on the beach. Brighton is so nice and accepting, and open, which I really appreciate.
Have you started thinking about the next project or album?
Reaching for Indigo feels like my magnum opus in a lot of ways, and I don’t think I’ll have a Circuit des Yeux record out any time soon. But I feel really good and healthy creatively - songs are pouring out of me all the time - so who knows?
Circuit des Yeux performs with us on 13 February.