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Haley Reinhart on ‘Better,’ Inspirations, and Songwriting

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Haley Reinhart on ‘Better,’ Inspirations, and Songwriting

LA-based singer/songwriter & former American Idol finalist Haley Reinhart released the lead single & title track from her forthcoming new album “Better” last week exclusively at Teen Vogue, who called it “your new ultimate rock-n-roll breakup track.” “Better” is jam-packed with uplifting anthems, positive vibes, and unfiltered emotion. It’s clear the album has been a labor of love for Reinhart; she spent years making sure the music was fresh and true to her style. We asked Haley all about her new album “Better,” her influences and inspirations, and a whole lot more.

It’s been five years since your debut on American Idol. How have you evolved as a singer-songwriter?

I like to dig deep and choose collaborators/friends that I know understand the freedom and the control I need to ensure that the song is coming from my perspective, lyrically and sonically.

Do you think a song is better if you write it while you’re going through something? Or is it better to wait until you get some perspective on your experience?

I think it’s best to write exactly what you’re feeling, when you’re feeling it! There’s nothing like emoting raw energy & passion to an audience. That’s what makes the connection so strong.

What was the main inspiration behind “Better” and how did the album come together?

I was fresh out of a relationship when I wrote “Better.” I wanted to write something relatable and up-lifting. I’ve collected songs over the past few years, picked my favs, recorded them live and combined them with the original demo tracks. This way, I feel like I got something retro-fresh.

Since many songs off “Better” sound like they were inspired by personal experiences, is it strange or uncomfortable for you to write and turn your personal narratives into song knowing you’ll have to sing some of them for the entirety of your career ?

I often think about this — whether artists songs are truths or fictional tales. I like to combine the two sometimes; I think it’s best to have it come from a very real place & then to build off of that. I like to leave things up to the imagination as well. So at the end of the day, it’s up to your interpretation.

Do you have a favorite song on the record? My personal favorite is “I Belong To You.”

They’re all favorites of mine, for different reasons of course. “Good or Bad,” has a mysterious and cinematic feel. “I Belong To You,” is a psychedelic love song. Both have a lot of heart & soul to them, with carefully crafted – dream like production.

The songs definitely do have a lot of heart and soul, it’s clear you put a lot of your emotions into this record. You embark on the “Better” tour in June — how are you preparing for life on the road?

I’m currently getting my full band together and putting together the set list. It’s so very real at this time, I get completely energized just thinking about it. I’m also getting some fun outfits together to keep it funky fresh!

Your style is heavily influenced by jazz, blues, and retro pop. How did these genres influence your identity as a songwriter?

It doesn’t get much better than sitting cross legged on my floor, listening to all my dads old records from the ’60s and ’70s. I grew up memorized by my mothers voice – singing everything from Janis Joplin, Chaka Khan, to Billie Holiday. Needless to say, it’s in my bloodstream.

Janis Joplin was a huge pioneer for women in music, she created powerful, iconic waves. There is something really powerful about women singer-songwriters turning their own poetry into music. How important is this to you as a writer?

It’s such a beautiful thing to unite through someone else’s life experience. Whoever’s story it may be, these words live on. In this light, we must choose wisely – what messages we send out into the universe.

There are many artists that have had an impact on you, who are some of your current influences?

Current records on my turn table: Dan Hicks and The Hot Licks, Rock Steady, Paul McCartney, Mamas and the Papas, Sly & the Family Stone. The list goes on!

Who inspires you, personally?

My parents first and foremost, they have instilled a life dedicated to living and breathing music. Taught me how to take on a stage, stay cool under pressure, and enjoy every minute of it. The Beatles have also taught me how important and necessary it is to continue to evolve through music & life.

You’ll be holding a “Better” benefit concert on April 30th in Illinois for the development of multimedia sexual abuse prevention. Can you share a little more about how this was cultivated and what your involvement means to you?

I was contacted by the the wonderful women in charge of (PAVE) to sing my heart out at this event. I’ve always wanted to help be a spokeswoman for this cause — I feel like I’ve been sent here to send out positive & encouraging messages to women all over the world. The more we help lift each other up, the easier it will be to live the life we deserve.

Haley will head out on a national tour starting June 3rd to support the release of “Better.” The full-length album will be released on April 29th.

Official Tour Dates:
6.3 Petaluma, CA @ Mystic Theatre
6.4 San Francisco, CA @ Great American Music Hall
6.6 Los Angeles, CA @ El Rey Theatre
6.7 Solana Beach, CA @ Belly Up
6.9 Phoenix, AZ @ Crescent Ballroom
6.11 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
6.13 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theatre
6.14 Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall
6.15 Columbus, OH @ A&R Music Bar
6.17 Detroit, MI @ St. Andrews
6.18 Pittsburgh, PA @ Stage AE
6.19 Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
6.21 Washington, DC @ The Hamilton
6.22 New York, NY @ Gramercy Theatre
6.23 Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
6.25 Bay Shore, NY @ Boulton Center for the Performing Arts
6.26 Asbury Park, NJ @ House of Independents

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Desarae, editor-in-chief & founder of Inspirer, is a music writer and software engineer residing in Los Angeles, CA. Prior to launching Inspirer, she spent 3 years as a feature and festival contributor for YahooTv! Inspirer is published by Desarae Gabrielle and Ashley McFaul and is circulated by Curtis Circulation internationally in both specialty and wholesale markets.

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