Music

Haley Johnsen “Renegade”

Haley Johnsen is a Portland, Oregon-born musician with a knack for genre-bending and a hard-earned career path that is uniquely her own. Raised listening to powerhouse singers such as Brandi Carlile, Grace Potter, Eva Cassidy, and Bonnie Raitt, her greatest inspirations become apparent in her soaring vocals, introspective lyricism, and cross-pollinated style of indie-pop, and bluesy folk rock music. Whether her songs muse on the aches of self-doubt, the joy that can accompany nostalgia, or simply trying to stay afloat in tough times, her bona fide songwriting combined with her performance ability is bound to evoke an emotional response. “I want my music to encourage people to push through their challenges and continue to have hope and belief in themselves and their authenticity,” she says.

Growing up as a competitive gymnast, Haley quickly learned how to be a daredevil and step outside her comfort zone. This influenced her musical journey by prompting the prolific songwriter to take inventive and unexpected risks sonically at an early age.  In the span of about three years, Haley wrote around 200 songs in her parents back shed, with the most memorable songs being added to her debut EP, Through the Blue, which was released in 2015. She followed up with her second EP, When You Lit The Sky, in 2017, along with a handful of singles and national tours. It was through her critically acclaimed 12-track debut album, Golden Days, where she gained much deserved recognition and ignited the interest of Allen Stone who appeared on the album. Later that year, Haley began touring with the power-trio sister-band Joseph and with EDM/Indie pop artist Big Wild, who she currently works with as a bassist and back-up vocalist. During her first Europe tour in January of 2019, Haley was further granted the opportunity to record an acoustic album entitled London Sessions at the Legendary Abbey Road. 

Her 2021 single “Goner” was written in a bathtub in a vintage trailer in the midst of having an existential crisis. The songwriter confides, “it came to be about the romanization of nostalgia; the longing for what once was our youth and also the fear of death. It’s about my own internal struggle trying to stay present and at peace with who I am now, where I am now, and realize that my childlike self is still very much alive in me. It’s a reminder that I don’t need to be afraid or insecure with where I am in my life.” Featuring honey-dipped vocals, breezy guitars, and sweeping 70s inspired folk rock soundscapes, “Goner” is a sun-drenched melancholic daydream. 

With her release “Higher” Haley Johnsen explores “not giving up on yourself. It’s that feeling of knowing that no matter what, you’re going to continue growing, continue dreaming, and that in itself is the greatest high. Knowing that you’ve built that trust within yourself to keep going even when life has worn you down,” she confides. Featuring a stirring melodic hook,orchestral percussion and dreamy slide guitar, “Higher” is the perfect anthem of self love. 

Haley Johnsen’s single “Common Ground”, “was written during the Summer of 2020, which felt like the precipice of an even deeper divide being carved between our country. Circumstances of the pandemic lead us to be more reliable to our devices, more obsessed with the news, and more at odds with our family and friends who had differing views. I wrote this song about my own sadness and frustration with the reality of this political landscape. How taking a stand on something I believed in only furthered the divide between the ones I loved. This song is a desperate plea asking society, are we ok with this? Are we capable of coming together and finding common ground, or is it too late?” 

With her latest single “Renegade”, Haley Johnsen crafts a song all about stepping into who you are as a person and to follow your dreams. Johnsen wrote this song to remind herself that she is brave for pursuing her goals. 

Her full length twelve track album GONER is about “this constant push and pull between confidence and self doubt. Fear and trust. This longing to be PRESENT with myself. To be grateful for who and where I am. Not worrying about the past or future, or getting caught up in the desire to constantly WANT as opposed to just BE,” confides Johnsen. GONER is quirky, dramatic, soft, somber, eclectic, and energetic.” Kinda like Haley Johnsen.

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