The acclaimed Portland singer-songwriter plays Grand Rapids’ Wealthy Theatre tonight. She shared thoughts on her music, her upbringing and her performances with Local Spins writer Enrique Olmos.
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Haley Heynderickx has a calming yet urgent timbre to her voice.
There’s a video on the Internet — the one that catapulted her career — where she’s performing “The Bug Collector.”
It’s her 2017 entry to National Public Radio’s Tiny Desk contest. Heynderickx sits alone at a table in a sparsely furnished dining room. With a classical guitar perched at an angle on her knee, she eases into the immersive finger-picked intro.
It’s a song you can easily get lost in, swimming through a lyrical vignette of observational imagery that transcends into introspection. Heynderickx excels at this: making the mundane beautiful through the craft of songwriting.
The video concludes with someone saying “That was it.” Surely, it was.
Heynderickx has since signed to a record label, performed at Newport Folk Festival and Autin’s SXSW, been written about in Rolling Stone magazine and toured with The Milk Carton Kids, The Punch Brothers and Andy Shauf.
Tonight (Wednesday, April 6), she plays Wealthy Theatre in Grand Rapids. Tickets, $25, for the 7 p.m. show are available online here. Matt Dorien opens the show. (Proof of vaccination is required for entry.)
Local Spins interviewed Heynderickx ahead of her performance. Here’s the Q&A.
Local Spins: I read in another interview that you grew up Catholic. I’m wondering – if you’re willing to share – how your childhood influenced who you are today?
Haley Heynderickx: I admit I am a bit of a private person when it comes to these things, but I cannot help but see how being raised in a faith, a set of rituals, a sense of tradition, does somehow trickle down values into one’s psyche. Not all of them bad, but not all of them too bueno either.
LS: I understand your mother is Filipino. What is your relationship with your heritage?
HH: That’s a huge question there for me, I wish it could be simply answered. There is a gentle splitting I feel between a culture so different from what I’ve experienced in America that still reaches me. I lived there when I was very young, and it has still sent ripple effects in my adulthood. It is an odd feeling being mixed race in the 21st century, but I do my best to try and celebrate both cultures and hope I get to visit family in the Philippines again soon.
LS: What’s growing in your garden these days (assuming you did start one)?
HH: Ha, if I could find a place in Portland to rent a home with a yard I’d let you know. Since 2018 I feel like I haven’t found a place to rest or call home, ironically never starting a garden. I chose the road before making my own nest. But alas! As of this week, I might have been accepted with my partner for a small place to rent, but we were one of 84 applicants, so… I’ll let you know.
LS: Let’s talk about The Beatles. What about their songs draws you in?
HH: Yes, I was raised on them, it made my Dad happy to play their songs on long road trips… I can’t help but like them. But I don’t think my liking for the Beatles is any more unique than anyone else who loves the Beatles! They’ve been a part of pop-culture thought for eternity.
LS: When you’re performing, what kind of artist/audience exchange are you hoping for?
HH: That’s a mystery. Sometimes I believe that hoping for a certain outcome creates only the opposite. I do my best to be honest with the space at hand, and to share songs from a grounded place. Sometimes people are very receptive to that, sometimes it’s not the vibe and that’s totally OK. But I’m happy to be on the road with my friends and we’re very excited to be in Grand Rapids so soon! Be seeing you in a little while.
VIDEO: Haley Heynderickx, “Tiny Desk Concert”
VIDEO: Haley Heynderickx, “Oom Sha La La”
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