Hayes Peebles has almost reached a quarter of a century in age but his voice sings tunes that are mature beyond his years. Peebles’ voice was made for music and his mind for writing songs as he’s been at it since he was in high school. Originally from Greenwich Village, Peebles pursued a philosophy degree in Boston while at the same time, writing music that would set the groundwork for his first EP.
Check out his delightfully upbeat but perfectly melancholic country single, “Home”, while you read more about him. I hope you enjoy his charming, heartfelt and genuine answers to my questions as much as I do!
MFL: Your EP release is just around the corner! What is left to be done before release and do you have any events lined up to celebrate the release?
I’ve been so used to cooking up demos in my bedroom and circulating them the very same day, so going through a proper recording and release process has definitely tested my patience, but has been well worth it.
Fortunately, I think the only thing that needs to be done over the course of the next week or two is make sure that Tim, Nate, Abe and I don’t all wear the exact same shirt to the release show we’re playing, which will be at Rockwood Music Hall Stage 2 on February 23rd.
MFL: Was there a core inspiration for the Ghosts EP or is it a collection of tracks that are not necessarily connected to one another?
On my end, the most difficult part of making this EP was probably the song selection. That’s in part because the folks who played on and helped imagine this record with me are super talented and make life easy, but also because I’ve been writing songs for a long time now and my “songbook” contains things I love from totally different phases that sound and think totally differently. In the end, I went for a little bit of everything, two oldies and two newer tunes that’ll hopefully display a few different sides so you all can get to know me. I would love to make some sort of continuous-playing concept album that comes in an immersive double LP set, but I’m going to have to wait until people trust me enough and until somebody’s willing to pay for the studio time to do it.
MFL: Musically, who do you draw inspiration from?
I am shamefully weak in the face of a good melody and will go in for pretty much any well-thought out song. That takes me to some very different places as far as genre, content and sound are concerned. The other day Yves Montand shuffled into Action Bronson and it made sense to me. But I know that it’s no fun to play the “I like everything” card so I’ll admit that I’m going to see Julia Jacklin and Andy Shauf share a bill this spring and am probably going to be the most embarrassing fanboy in the crowd, those two have gotten a lot of spin time in the Peebles household lately.
MFL: What is the source of your lyrical material? Do you prefer to draw from personal experiences or create fictional material? Feel free to comment on your two released singles, “Ghosts” and “Home.”
The majority of my lyrics come from my own experiences. I write mainly about the things that make an impression on me and these things usually end up being personal and cliche but hopefully relatable, too. “Ghosts” is that kind of song.
The past year or so I’ve gotten out of my own head more and have tried to work more on storytelling and characters- which probably has to do with my increased intake of Country and Americana and because it’s honestly more fun. “Home” is that kind of song. Not accidentally, there’s a bit of both of those approaches on the EP.
MFL: How and when did music make its way into your life?
I always loved singing along to my parents’ music in the car and as early as I could I started taking piano lessons. At that age most kids didn’t really want to practice piano or show up to lessons and resented it but I pretty much loved it since day one and never found any good reason to stop.
MFL: What did you gain from your college experience in Boston besides a degree in Philosophy?
Most importantly, I gained a really excellent and inspiring set of friends (cue that Vitamin C song) who have given me the confidence to do what I’m doing now. Many of them are now in New York entertaining my bullshit on a weekly basis and it’s great, having smart people to spend time with cannot be taken for granted.
Stepping out of the Hallmark aisle for a moment, I also got to spend some time away from New York City, which is almost always good for one’s perspective. There’s a great DIY scene in Boston and its suburbs and my time there led me to appreciate just how incredible those bands (hearing Pile for the first time was a revelation) and those spaces and the people supporting them are. For all its diversity, the sceney-ness of New York can feel really constrictive and priorities get way out of line. Spending time in Boston I learned that it’s possible and important to function differently, and tried to bring that back with me.
MLF: Do you have any plans to tour in the near future and what would be some top destinations?
I would love nothing more than to go on a mini-tour of sorts. But before I jump into all that, I have to first make sure that Tim, Nate, Abe and I are not all wearing the same exact shirt at the Ghosts EP release show at Rockwood Music Hall on February 23rd.
MFL: If you were to make a mix CD for me, what would five of the tracks on it be?
Townes van Zandt- Tower Song
Julia Jacklin- Hay Plain
Pile- The Jones
Songs:Ohia- Farewell Transmission
R. Kelly- Sex Weed
MFL: What does making music do for you, personally and are you artistic in other ways?
I tried painting once or twice but all that did was waste canvas and reinforce the fact that music was always the thing for me. My sister stole all of the visual art talent from the gene pool.
I could go on about how songwriting is some mix of therapy and catharsis, an opportunity to define myself in my own eyes and the eyes of others and how it’s the easiest way to frame the world and communicate with the people in it. That stuff is all true to a certain extent, but the simplest truth is that it’s the thing I love the most, am most comfortable doing and the thing I want to spend my life working on.
MFL: After the release of the Ghosts EP, what is next for you?
The hope is to do it all: put out some sort of a full-length record, travel around playing it for people I’ve never met, find some time to sleep and write in between and then do it all over again.
Follow Hayes Peebles on Facebook and keep your eyes and ears peeled for his upcoming EP, Ghosts, due out February 10th! Thanks to Hayes Peebles for answering my questions and Theresa Montgomery of 24West for making the interview possible!