By Catherine Michelle
“If anything, the biggest thing is to enjoy the chill moments and not find your happiness in busyness.”
On a gorgeous day in the summer, Haven took the time to catch up on what she has been working on during quarantine, the life lessons she has learned, LA boys and how everything happens for a reason. If you want to watch our exclusive interview, head to @dreamlettecentral for the full video interview!
Hey Haven! Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, we are so excited. Firstly, not to ask the broadest question ever, but how have you been since we last spoke in April, shortly after coronavirus took over?
I’ve been good! I came home when COVID-19 hit and I have gotten to spend a ton of time with my family. I thought originally I would not see them for a while because I was going to be on tour for roughly five months and now I’m with them every day, so that has been the biggest blessing—getting to be here for the birthdays and those types of occasions.
Speaking of birthdays, in your song “Sad & Successful,” you talk about missing your dad's birthday and how that was difficult. You wrote and released that song prior to COVID, so what have you learned from returning home? It’s been really nice and it has been good for me to learn how to chill out a bit because I typically thrive off of being busy, feeling busy and feeling like I’m doing a lot of things. So, when I returned home and I wasn’t doing much, it was a bit of a transition because I felt anxious not being in the studio or in meetings every day. It has taught me to chill out a bit and watch Netflix with my family.
Looking back on your successful career, it all started because you were diagnosed with POTS syndrome when you were younger. Can you walk us through how music came into your life during a difficult time? My parents are both athletic coaches, so I grew up in a very sports-oriented family. I played every sport you could imagine. I always loved music but I was always really busy. I bought a guitar with my birthday money when I was nine and started playing, but I wasn’t super focused on music yet. When I turned 10 I got really sick with POTS and acute pancreatitis and was in the hospital a lot. I couldn’t really walk or do sports anymore so that’s when my focus shifted to music. I started writing about my feelings, and music was what brought me through that illness. When I began to feel better, I decided to focus on music not sports because I really loved it. I probably would not have focused on music like I did if I hadn’t gotten really sick—it was a blessing in disguise.
Has music been a form of therapy for you? It always has been! Even when I was six I was writing and making songs about the playground drama. I think a lot of writers say it’s their journal and it really is. It’s a way of getting out your emotions and now that I am older, I write about relationships and life. It is definitely a form of therapy for me and hopefully it’s a form of therapy for the listeners as well.
So, you were also born and raised in Iowa. What are the series of events that brought you from Iowa to Nashville when you were 12? I was obsessed with Nashville when I was growing up. When I got sick, a family friend in Iowa sent me to Nashville and I recorded an EP because they knew I loved music. Once I did my first trip and recorded that project, I was hooked. Once I started to feel better I began playing shows and was doing around 100 dates a year. With the money I made I would fly to Nashville when I was 12 by myself and stay with a family we knew to write and record. My mom eventually took a leave of absence from her job and we lived in my band trailer for a year while we toured around playing and creating.
Before we jump to the present day and you go out to LA and make the transition to pop music you also performed with some of the biggest country music acts like Lady A and Hunter Hayes. What were those experiences like? It was a dream come true. I was 13, 14, 15, and I think I didn’t really understand how blessed or lucky I was to have those opportunities at such a young age. It was a huge blessing to be able to play in front of that many people so early on in my career. I am forever grateful for having those experiences.
What does it feel like to stand in front of a crowd that large?
It was crazy, but I was so young that I almost thought it was normal. Looking back it is like, “Oh wow!”
Did working among such amazing artists help to inspire you to continue to grow? I think when you are an opener, your dream is always to be a headliner. So it definitely sparked that fire in me for sure.
Do you ever have stage fright and do you have any tips for overcoming it? When I do my live shows I don’t get very nervous, but the one thing I get really nervous for is when I have to sing the National Anthem. My hands will go totally numb when I am singing—I haven’t figured out how to combat it. But I usually do a bunch of jumping jacks to get my adrenaline going before I go on stage.
What made you interested in pop music and what motivated you to take the leap from Country music artist to pop artist? I grew up on country music so country music was the only option in my head. Once I got to Nashville, I was exposed to more pop music and I really loved it. I wanted to experiment and go out of my box a little bit. I had signed a publishing deal in Nashville as a country artist and they kinda knew that I wanted to explore the pop scene. Luckily they were supportive and sent me out to LA and put me in writing sessions with pop writers and producers and that’s how I got introduced to my manager. I wanted to do pop, I just didn’t know how to make it happen and luckily it has all fallen into place, so I am very thankful.
When listening to many of your songs, the lyrics are about breakups but have a pop vibe that also makes you want to dance. How do you find that perfect balance of laying your heart on the line and baring your soul but also making a great record you want to listen to with your friends and dance? I want people to bop along as they are listening. I love a beat that you can dance to and mixing it with emotions that have depth to it. I try to do a solid mix of the two.
How would you describe your creative process? It is different every time but now with pop music it is very track-based. So usually it starts with a beat and I begin to sing some melodies and then I start writing lyrics. I ask myself, “What do I feel right now?” “How does this track feel?” More times than not, it begins with the melody and then the lyrics start coming to me.
Do you ever get writer's block? Not very often but I will say that during quarantine it hasn’t flowed as easily. I think it is because I have been sitting in the house so much. Even the small act of driving to the studio every day helps my creativity flow that hasn’t been happening. The view is always the same.
When you write these deeply personal songs about a hard experience you have had with love, do you hope they hear this song? Have you ever had a boy reach out after hearing one of your songs? Yes, but I don’t want to hurt people. But when I am writing, I am not going to hold back. There have been a few boys that I am like, “I hope you click on this song and give it a little listen.”
“RN” is such an emotional song that anyone can relate to if they have been in a “half” relationship or the guy picks the other girl. Does it feel really good to sing those songs or do they take you back to a sad place? “RN” feels really good to sing, it’s like I am flushing it all out and getting it out of my system. (LYRICS) ‘I know that you love her and this isn’t fair, I can’t pretend that we’re just friends, act like I don’t care’ ‘Who am I, tryna make you choose, if I was you I would hate me too’
You have quick lyrics in many of your songs, do you have any warm up techniques? I do have vocal warm ups that I always do. I’m not sure where the fast vocals came from but I love it because you can get more in there! I can say more if I say it a little faster.
“Be With You”—can you talk to me about making this song? This has been my shower song!
That song came together in 20 minutes, it was wild. We were in a session and had written two songs that day already, but my producer played a small bit of the track and it felt like the song just fell out of the sky. We put a vocal down that day and looked at each other like, ”What did we just do?!” It is very rare that a song comes together like that but it came like lightning.
“Swimming In Your Feelings”—A song about a boy in LA that you were dating. How are the boys in LA different than the boys in Nashville? Or are they all the same? I don’t want to call LA boys out but they are a little different than Nashville boys generally speaking, I won’t lie. I think in Nashville you get the southern charming sweet guys but there are different types everywhere. I want to believe there are good guys in every place, you just have to find them.
You have “Hoodie in the Summer” being released this month, tell me about your new song. I’m super excited about it. It’s a summer song that is more uptempo than most of my other songs. I was in a session with the same producer that did “Be With You,” and I was wearing a hoodie in the summer. He was making fun of me because it was summertime and so hot and I told him I just love being in hoodies. So we tried to figure out how we could make it into a story and we twisted it into ‘I want to wear you like a hoodie in the summer, wrapped around my body every summer.’
What can people expect to hear from you in the future? I have more singles coming out every six weeks before the end of the year and I am super excited. I have been writing more dance songs while in quarantine so next year will be more upbeat and a dance vibe.
Advice for someone wanting to become a singer songwriter? I would say to do it because you love it. There are a lot of different opinions and just because one person says they are not crazy about your song or sound doesn’t mean that the next person won’t love it. Do not take “no’s” too hard and keep going, keep working hard. Don’t stop. It’s a journey, and it takes time.
How do you hope people remember you? I hope that I make people happy and that they enjoy listening to my music, or if they follow me online that I am an enjoyable person to follow. I am so excited to get out on tour and meet more people.
What is the most important life lesson you have learned in the past 12 months? Learning that it is okay not to be super busy all the time. I sometimes find my happiness and my worth in how busy I am. I don’t think that is the healthiest way to find happiness. If anything, the biggest thing is to enjoy the chill moments and not find your happiness in busyness.
What is on your Spotify playlist right now? “Bitter” by Fletcher and “Vicious” by Tate McRae.
Three things you can’t live without? Cake! Or sugar and desserts haha. Sleep and family! My mom recently made this insane three layer cake and I have been eating it for breakfast the past four days. It’s so delicious and that is probably why cake came out first.
Catherine Michelle is the Contributing Editor at Large and Lead Writer for New Face Fashion Magazine and Dreamlette Magazine who focuses on exclusive interviews, reviews, makeup, fashion and more! Follow her on Instagram.