Here at ATYPICAL SOUNDS, we cover so many bands from New York, Los Angeles, and London that it can be easy to forget musicians exist all over the place. Nevertheless, I was still fascinated by St. Paul, Minnesota based Haley Bonar.
We recently caught up with the seasoned writer and performer, who very patiently answered all of my questions about what goes on in the Midwest.
Why live in St. Paul versus New York or Los Angeles? Is it ever a challenge to run your career from a place that’s reasonably far from both major cities?
HB: I have lived in St. Paul, for the most part, for the last 9 years. It’s cheap and mellow and quiet. LA and NYC are none of those things, but I do enjoy my time in both cities when there for work.
What are your favorite places in your area to listen to music?
You’re also a mom, which I think sets you apart from many of the artists we feature on ATYPICAL SOUNDS. What was it like trying to juggle your career while pregnant, and then having a baby to care for? Do you find yourself writing more about your experiences as a mom, or is it more difficult to write now?
HB: I tend to think about my work in a more linear sense, so to me, although it isn’t your typical office job, it is work and when you work outside or inside of the home, you have to get childcare. The only thing different to me at this point is that I have chosen not to tour a whole lot, because I do not want to spend a ton of time away from my daughter’s childhood. As she gets older, that changes, but since she is only 4 I find it hard to justify. Clementine says she wants to come tour with me though, so perhaps we will give that a try this fall!
According to Spotify, the two most popular cities for your music are London and Minneapolis. Does that seem like a jump, or do you think those two places are more similar than people give them credit for?
HB: My label in Europe and UK is based in London, which I think is the connection there, as well as the BBC playing my music a lot. I don’t think the cities are similar at all, other than the fact that people live in crass weather for the majority of the year 🙂
Many of your songs offer a more sedate sound, some of which feature no percussion. Do you think creating music that is more quiet will draw fans closer than something comparatively loud? Was that something you put thought into, or was it natural for you to create music that way, based on your tastes?
HB: I think that although much of my earlier music was like that, my last few records are not. I also have a band called Gramma’s Boyfriend that is very loud and dance-y. I typically don’t write to intentionally draw a certain audience in, but more or less because I like to continue growing and changing while remaining true to myself as a writer and musician.
Among your influences, you list comedians Louis C.K. and Amy Sedaris. Does humor often work its way into your songs or performances? I’m especially fond of your song “Bad for You.”
HB: Again, listen to Gramma’s Boyfriend 🙂 Humor definitely works its way into my songs… I am inspired by comedians, screenwriters, authors, and actors just as much if not more than other musicians.
Are there other artists around Minneapolis you feel deserve more recognition?
HB: I’ve always been surprised that Prince doesn’t get much attention.
There’s a jazz group called Happy Apple that has been around for a long time, and though they have a following here and maybe some places in Europe, I’ve always been a bit perplexed as to why they weren’t super famous, because they’re amazing.
What are your plans for 2016? Any SXSW appearances?
HB: Not this year, no. Next year I’ll have a new record under my belt, so we’ll most likely have a few shows down there!