Brighton singer Hayley Ross explores flaws, grief and new sounds

Brighton singer Hayley Ross brings out a new EP as we all continue to navigate an exceptionally difficult year.

Wednesday, 16th December 2020, 11:00 am
HAYLEY ROSS

Moving All Around comes out via Barracuda Recordings, comprising the title-track, plus two previously-unreleased songs – a recording which sees Hayley trading her dreamy south-coast trademarks for a darker, rootsier collection of sounds.

For the title track, she’s also breaking new ground with a video, available on YouTube.

“It’s basically putting together some gorgeous footage shot by myself, by my partner and by Jimmy from the label. It’s kind of road-trippy and then some random shadows on the wall of my flat.

“I really enjoyed doing it. I am going to be taking more control of the visual side of things now.”

As for the track itself, Hayley describes it as a song about living in a state of transience and yearning for a life less complicated.

When she was writing it, she found herself seeking escape from the humdrum of the day-to-day into a world completely different to her own. She became fascinated by the photography of Tim Richmond and his documentary project The Last Best Hiding Place… A Contemporary Look at the American West. The unique landscapes and people he captured soon began to filter into her own work, she says.

“I just thought they were beautiful. I just thought I wanted to go and live in his pictures, that feeling of open space. I liked how I felt when I looked at them. Wide open spaces, small towns, dust and heat.”

Also on the EP is All These Things, a song which finds Hayley revelling in “the darker elements of what can come as part of the package that is love and being in love with a person… being flawed, impulsive, reactive and sometimes at the mercy of our own emotions.

“It is about how we can be impulsive while at the same time it brings out all the best qualities in a person. It’s just an exploration really. I think we can all behave not amazingly sometimes!”

Completing the EP is Hope That I’m Wrong, a wistful reflection on “missing places and people from periods in your life that you can never get back to… like childhood. When it’s over, it’s over and it’s gone. It’s stripped-back acoustic with some cello and is quite nostalgia heavy.”

Tragically, it has gained even greater resonance in Hayley’s life than it had when she first wrote the song.

“I wrote it about my grandmother really. She passed away. She had a lovely long life and I wanted to write what I thought about it. But since I wrote it, I have lost both my parents, my mum and my dad – my mum in December and my dad in April. Before that, my grandmother was the first bereavement I had ever had.”

Inevitably, things have been hugely tough, Hayley freely admits: “I don’t really know how you cope. I am just trying to do lots of good things and to be creative and to push forward.”

Her mum fell ill in May last year and passed away in the December: “It is not just my mother that I lost. She was my best friend and my confidant.”

The three tracks were written around the time Hayley wrote the tracks on her debut album which came out in February, a month before the first lockdown began. The nostalgia of Hope That I’m Wrong has inevitably taken on huge added poignancy.

It has been a hard enough year without the chance to perform: “You work on something for a long time, and it is difficult. But we have done a filmed album playback which we are going to be releasing on YouTube. It will be out before Christmas.”

Hayley has lived in Brighton for about 12 years now.

“I grew up in Surrey and then we moved around a bit and I lived in London and then moved to Hastings and then ended up in Brighton. I always wanted to live by the sea so it was either Hastings or Brighton, but I got a job as a piercer… But I wasn’t very good at it. I was OK at the piercing, but my hands began to shake when I was fitting the jewellery, so I decided to go fully into something else!”