Next Wave #1080: Aubrey Haddard

In Association With Vero True Social

It’s not often you stumble across someone like Aubrey Haddard. Transcending beyond the realms of singer-songwriter, Haddard feels like an artist; her soundscaping is sharp and distinctive, paired with gorgeous lyricisms and harrowingly beautiful vocals. Sophomore album ‘Awake And Talking’ is a masterclass in sonic complexity, building on her pre-established avant-indie sound and throwing it into the next level. 

Haddard’s music acts as a gateway into her ever-shifting psyche. ”‘Awake And Talking’ is a very transformational record,” Haddard reflects. “It’s very self-examining – it looks at different parts of my past, my present and my future. I really think I found myself… But, even then, I feel like this record is already an old version of me.”

This onward push, this constant evolution, is what keeps Haddard exciting. While her debut 2016 EP ‘Adult Lullabies’ was a focused acoustic venture, ‘Awake And Talking’ thrives in its experimentation. And this bold, ever-curious edge undeniably reflects Haddard’s personal growth; “I’ve definitely grown into being comfortable with experimenting with sound,” Haddard tells us. “I don’t know if that’s because I’m a woman, but I feel like some of my experiences making music with other people reinforced that idea of ‘stick to what you know’. So pushing past that has really helped me.”

This brazen desire to trust her own intuition is what made ‘Awake And Talking’ the record it is today – otherwise an entirely different record may have taken its place. “We went out to Oakland and wrote a few tracks in 2019 – and we were like ‘okay, we’ve made a second record.’ We recorded 10 songs. And then we were like… ‘this isn’t’,” Haddard explains. “It wasn’t the record that we wanted to make. You know, it didn’t feel right, it didn’t feel cohesive… I’m glad I didn’t go through with that.”

In terms of the record that Haddard did end up making, Haddard describes ‘Awake And Talking’ as both “danceable” and “anxious sounding.” This symbiosis, toeing the line of internal distress and euphoria, is what makes it so spectacular – it serves as an explosion of introspection, gorgeously wrapped in sharp soundscapes and floating vocals. “It’s incredibly emotional. It’s high-strung. It’s bold. It’s like – I’m so anxious, but I really want to dance! And I think that balance is a perfect representation of what it’s like to live in New York City,” Haddard laughs. 

Next Wave #1080: Aubrey Haddard

Of the emotional exposé’s on offer, Haddard notes that closing track, the sparklingly painful ‘Someone’s Daughter’, is her proudest track – albeit the most challenging performance. “I was very specific about what I wanted to get out of the vocal take. When listening to the album, I hope that one will leave an impact; it’s kind of a heavy emotional song. It’s sort of like a punch in the face.” Elsewhere, Haddard namedrops ‘Harbor’ as a stand-out track. “Again, it’s very personal. But the arrangement is really beautiful, I think it moves really well,” Haddard explains.

So what does Haddard want people to take from this record? “I want people dancing,” Haddard says. “Over the last few years, with the pandemic, I would take the subway, and nobody else would be on the subway – but then I’d put on my headphones, and it would give me so much. I’d just want to uninhibitedly dance. So I wanted to channel that into my own music. I wanted people to just… dance.” 

The visuals for this record very much capture that danceability. ‘Green As Ever’s video is constantly in motion, Haddard prancing and twirling around with a totally weightless euphoria. “For me, the visuals were crucial this time round,” Haddard emphasises. “There were a lot of things that informed the visuals, and then there were just a lot of things that the music could also draw out of the visuals. I just feel like that the visuals are so aligned with the actual vision of the music and me. I didn’t simplify or compromise on anything.”

Experimental, enriching and deeply refreshing, ‘Awake And Talking’ is doing exactly as the title suggests. This is Haddard at her most alert and revealing; this is a release full of life and desperate to speak its truth.

‘Awake And Talking’ is out now.

Words: Emily Swingle

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