Vancouver’s Haley Blais shares background on debut full-length album ‘Below the Salt’

Photo by Lindsay Elliott

On August 25, 2020, Vancouver indie darling Haley Blais released her first full-length album, Below the Salt, via local label Tiny Kingdom. The album, produced by Louise Burns and Tennis, is a follow-up to her much-praised EP Let Yourself Go. Vancouver Weekly got a chance to catch up with Haley and chat about the release of the new album.

How did you meet your producers, Louise Burns and Tennis? 

It was mostly through my management, Tiny Kingdom. I think that us all meeting formally was inevitable because we have mutual friends and six degrees of separation and whatnot. It was an inevitable meeting and I’m glad it happened because they’re making my music sound good. 

How did you get started with Tiny Kingdom?

I hired them to write me a grant. They got me grant money and I asked them to keep doing it and do more. So they became my managers. I was like, ‘Why are you always giving me money? You should get in on this too.’

Has your approach to songwriting changed since the EP?

Yes, definitely. I used to say if a song isn’t done in 20 minutes then I’ll never finish it. I used to think that was the way I’d write songs but it’s kinda bullshit, a bit of a cop-out or me not trying very hard. So I’ve been trying to actually take my time with writing a song. If I come up with a verse and can’t think of anything until later, like a month later, then that’s okay. Sometimes songs take a while to finish. It doesn’t have to be a passion, like running out of the shower and having to write it down. 

Were there any songs on this album that you found particularly challenging to write?

A lot of these songs I’ve been sitting on for a couple of years. Other than the first track and the track “Asleep.” I would say the way that they change. They changed so much, a lot of these songs. Their embryo form is so different from what it turned out to be on the recording. It was challenging in the fact that I had to let them go a little bit. I had to give up a bit of creative freedom to have my producers say, “Let’s try it this way.” 

How did you end up playing bass with Babe Corner?

I just wanted to be in that band no matter what. So I told Lindsey I could play bass when I couldn’t. And… I still don’t really know how. But it’s been fun. We actually just got out of the studio the last couple of days doing some demos.

The tone of the album feels a bit different than the EP? Was that intentional?

Yeah. I just wanted to take myself more seriously for once. And take the production more seriously. And learn more from it. I think all of my past releases I’ve released a bit flippantly. I didn’t take as much time with them as I could’ve. I liked using this album as an experiment to test my limits. 

Has COVID affected the plans for the launch of the album?

Yeah, we had a tour planned. But those have been moved to 2021. We have nothing concrete, though. So hopefully 2021 with Peach Pit. I’m supposed to be hopping on their tour.

Any streaming shows coming up?

We have a live performance concert going up on September 13th at 5pm PST. From the Fox Cabaret.

You can find Below the Salt on all streaming platforms and you can see Haley Blais live via streaming on September 13th. Check out her Facebook page for more details.