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NPR Arts & Life

How Haley Heynderickx Found Her Confidence For Her Debut Album

Haley Heynderickx
Haley Heynderickx

In person, folk musician Haley Heynderickx is shy and soft-spoken. She gets what she calls "sweaty impostor syndrome" when asked to talk about her music. But in performance, the Portland-based artist has the confidence to lay herself bare. Two years ago, she released a promising four-song collection called Fish Eyes that was so unguarded, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to. Heynderickx's unabashed self-assurance has only grown over time and can be heard on her latest album, I Need To Start A Garden, available now.

Throughout the record, Heynderickx ponders universal preoccupations like navigating relationships and evaluating self-worth. The gorgeous opening track, "No Face," seems to ask a disenchanted loved-one, "Is it you ... or is it me?" And the electric folk ballad "Jo" finds her cradling someone "like honeycomb holding the bee in the folds."

Heynderickx grew up outside Portland in a Filipino-American household. There, she learned to sing at church and family karaoke parties. She built her guitar chops at open mics where she honed a finger-picking style that is heavily influenced by John Fahey and Leo Kottke.

Now that her debut LP is out, the singer-songwriter, who still teaches music locally, wants to move towards a full-time music career as a performer. But that goal seemed like stretch a year ago. During the recording process of I Need To Start A Garden, Heynderickx scrapped multiple recordings and suffered a real crisis of confidence. The artist eventually found her footing before recording " Om Sha La La," the song that would become the heart the record — an irreverent single filled with quirky non sequiturs and the lyric that became the title of the album. Heynderickx says the song is partly motivational and partly a reminder not to take herself too seriously.

Haley Heynderickx is one of the new Slingshot artists — emerging talent, handpicked by public radio stations and NPR.

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