Halie Loren, originally from Southeast Alaska, has been writing and performing music since the age of 13. Now an international, award-winning jazz/pop singer, Halie is a force to be reckoned with. She has released a total of ten albums over her years as a singer-songwriter, topped charts across the world, toured worldwide, and continues to wow her fans with her enchanting voice and multi-lingual lyrics–she speaks eight languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, Japanese and Korean!
After moving to the Northwest as a teen, Halie quickly fell in love with the Northwest and its music scene–and it loved her back. Within months of making the move, she was invited to be a main performer in a sold-out concert series that received much exposure around the Northwest (at just 13 years old!) A few years later, Halie graduated from high school (early) at the age of at 17. She then moved to Nashville to further pursue her dream as a songwriter. She spent the next 1-1/2 years in “Music City” writing, recording, and performing. When she returned to the good old Northwest to attend school at the University of Oregon, (scooo DUCKS!) her musical style reformed and took on a whole new sound. She had found her voice. She began touring as both a solo songwriter and jazz vocalist accompanied by a full band.
Halie didn’t stop there. During her sophomore year at UO, Halie formed her own independent record label and production company, White Moon Productions, and released a collaborative benefit CD, “For the Love.” Things have only gone up for Halie since then. Her debut jazz CD, “They Oughta Write a Song,” won the International
Independent Music award for best vocal jazz album of the year, her 2012 release, “Heart First,” was honored by Japan’s Jazz Critique Magazine as the best vocal jazz album of year, and reached No. 1 on the iTunes Canada jazz albums chart…the list goes on.
I had the pleasure of chatting with the talented Halie Loren for today’s blog post. Enjoy! 🙂
A Perfect Playlist: What role does language play in your creative process/songwriting?
Halie Loren: I have recorded or performed songs in 8 different languages. I’d say that I am definitely a linguaphile! I love learning songs in many different languages and the creative avenues that this practice opens up. When I’m singing a song in a language I’m either unfamiliar with or far less comfortable with than my native tongue, my inner instrumentalist comes out to play—words feel more like sounds, which is a playful way to vocalize. I get out of my narrator-mind a bit. Of all the languages I sing in, I actually speak Spanish conversationally. I also speak a tiny bit of Italian and French, and know some phrases in all of the other languages I’ve performed. I wish I could say that I’m legitimately multi-lingual in a conversational or fluency sense… I guess I enjoy being able to live out at least a bit of that dream in my music!
APP: Your music is very popular in Japan, even reaching on the Billboard Japan Top 20 Jazz Albums chart! That’s amazing, congrats. Did this surprise you? You mentioned on social media that you did a week-long tour of Japan. What did you think?
HL: It has indeed been a thrilling part of my musical life! Several of my albums have even had the honor of achieving #1 on the Billboard Jazz chart in Japan, and most of the albums I’ve released there (most distributed through Japan’s JVC Kenwood / Victor label) have remained in the Amazon Japan Top 10 in several chart categories. My Japanese fans have been really good to me. I’ve toured there ten times, including my most recent tour this past July, which was part of a lengthier summer tour (in support of my new album “From the Wild Sky”) that also included Korea, Canada, the US, France, and the UK. Japan is a really wonderful place to play music — the audiences there tend toward being extremely astute, appreciative music fans, and the venues are some of the most high-quality in terms of staff professionalism and sound equipment I’ve worked with anywhere in the world.
APP: Who are some of your inspirations as an artist? Who have you been listening to lately?
HL: One of my biggest inspirations is Joni Mitchell — her songs and their quirky genius, her stylistic risk-taking, the way she seemed to follow her muse above all else, and her realness when talking about her career. She seems like a genuine person, and one that I’d really love to know, at that.
As for who I’ve been listening to lately, I’ve found myself on a nostalgia kick, and have been listening to a lot of 60’s and 70’s songwriters that were the soundtrack to my life in my formative years… artists such as Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Nina Simone, John Denver, Simon and Garfunkel, and a lot of others.
APP: What do you hope people gain from your music?
HL: I hope that people experience a moment of emotional connection in which they feel a little bit more in touch with their human-ness. I know that’s what music does for me. Sometimes we all need to hear something that allows us to fully feel whatever it is that we’re going through— music can sort of give us permission, if you will, to swim around in our internal experience and relish it, whether it’s a joyful or melancholic moment we’re having. I love that about art in general, and it’s what I hope mine carries to the listener as well.
APP: What has been the most difficult obstacle for you to overcome as an artist?
HL: Internal obstacles, for sure. I’m naturally a shy person — quite introverted by default — so putting myself in the spotlight to begin with was a very difficult challenge to overcome, and even now, after almost 20 years of being a professional performer, I find myself facing those moments where I feel intense internal resistance toward putting myself out there the way that artists are often required to do. Social media has definitely changed all of our expectations as to what being an artist is, and how accessible and public one needs to be to continue to do what they do. This ever-changing reality has been a catalyst for me to hone my skills and push through the discomfort, which is probably really good for me.
The flip-side of this part of my nature is that I feel like it really benefits the songwriter part of me, in that a lot of my life is lived internally, and I often spend my time observing the world around me and listening more than talking.
APP: Favorite song you’ve sung, written or both?
HL: Talk about a tough question! I honestly can’t pinpoint one song that I could definitively declare is my “favorite”, as that shifts from performance to performance, from moment to moment… sometimes a song is just perfect for a particular time and place, and in that moment that song is my favorite. I will say that I am always in the mood to revel in the song “Feeling Good” — it puts me in a great head-space every time, and maybe that’s because it always makes me think of the nature places I love so much and grew up around in Alaska and Oregon… it fills me with a sense of magic and wonder. One of my self-penned songs that I am most in love with right now is “Noah” from my new album “From the Wild Sky”, mostly because that song has really helped me come to terms with letting go and allowing for change. There’s a lot going on in the world that is creating struggle for people — natural disasters, climate change, conflicts, geopolitics, and so much more — and, for me, this song speaks to that pain but hopefully acts as a salve as well.
APP: Dream artist to collab with?
Can I name a few? Picking just one seems impossible! My list would include Jamie Cullum, Sufjan Stevens, Paula Cole, Frank Ocean, and Natalia Lafourcade, among others. There are so many inspiring and amazing artists out there with whom I’d be honored to create!
Photos and some bio information courtesy of Halie Loren/White Moon Productions.