Interview: Leah Hayes (Scary Mansion)

It’s really hard (well, for me) writing about musicians whose music I really, really love and admire because I always struggle to articulate just how brilliant and wonderful I think these musicians are. I think this is the case with Leah Hayes. She’s such a super talent. She draws and writes wonderful songs and has a beautiful voice.

You can hear some songs on the Scary Mansion LastFm page and you can see her absolutely fantastic drawings on her website. I really can’t recommend listening to her debut Every Joke Is Half The Truth enough. It is SO good. She also has some great non album tracks on her Myspace. So, as you can imagine, I am super excited that Leah answered some questions for this blog.

What was your first musical instrument and where did you get it?

I have been playing the piano since I was a very little girl (maybe 5?).  My mom is a violin teacher and runs a music school, so we had instruments all around us all the time, growing up.  But Piano was (and is) my first love.  I used to play it instead of doing homework, hanging out with people, etc etc…

I only started playing guitar a few years ago.  I taught myself guitar because I was living in Paris alone without a piano… and I got desperate one night.  I don’t know why I had a guitar around, but I did, so I started working on it.

Do you download music or buy hard copies? Or both?

Both. Well, no.. that’s not really true.  The last actual cd/record I bought was in the summer, and it wasn’t very good.  I guess I download more.

Favourite music venue to play and why?

In Brooklyn: Zebulon.  They are my favorite because they care so much about the music and they are the nicest people, ever. They’re French and remind me of the owners of The Popin, in France!  At Zebluon they don’t charge at the door, they pay the musicians well, and make you feel like they would give you all the time and money in the world if they could, because they like you.  In New York you get venues taking ridiculous percentages of what you earn that night, or fighting with you if you didn’t draw enough people.. and basically being jerks about money, which makes you feel like you’d never want to come back.

In Paris:  The Popin.  But like, from 2002.. which was the last time I played there.

Last movie watched:

I watched “Deep Rising”, which is about pirates overtaking a cruise ship that has been ravaged by seamonsters.  Have you seen it?  I love seamonsters.

5 hopes for 2009:

Oh I don’t know.  I have a lot of hopes.  I’m really excited about the new album that will probably be out this spring.  And I am working on a new book, too… but also I hope to spend lots of time with my family, which is a big thing for me.

Best moment on tour?

I had a good moment on one tour with Kyp Malone and Matt Littlejohn a few years ago.  We were touring the South, and decided to climb a mountain at dusk.  By the time we got ready to climb back down, it was pitch dark and nobody had thought to bring flashlights or anything.  So we walked down in total blackness, except for a little glow of the night sky.  At one point we heard a big rumbling right in front of us, and we could see the silhouette of a HUGE bear on the trail right in front of us.  We all just froze, and the bear stopped, too, I think.  I remember clutching Kyp’s arm and being SUPER sure I was going to die.  I don’t know why it passed us and kept walking… but it did and we ran down the mountain, tripping and falling all over each other to the car. Later it was really funny.  It’s still kind of amazing to me.

If you could play anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Well… maybe on some radio show, where I didn’t have to be on stage.  I’m really shy.

Favourite band/singer/album you discovered recently?

I have been listening to this guy Mike Bones.. and I love this other guy called, “Last Good Tooth”.  Other than that I have been listening to Lisa Li-Lunde’s album called “French Cowboys”, and also my friends Forest Fire.  And Sharon Van Etten.  She is the best.

If you could get any two musicians to collaborate with each other, who would they be and why?

Hmmm.  I would have a girl band with my friend Nicole from Airwaves, and Sharon Van Etten.  I think we all have sort of unique voices in different ways that would sound nice together.  At one point we even talked about this idea… I don’t know why we let that one go. Also I would love to sing with Rivers from Weezer.  My god….

Here is a video of Leah playing Go To Hell:

I would like to add some commentary to those answers. Firstly, new album in spring (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!). This is the best news ever. I am so hugely excited. Secondly, I would like to second the fact that Sharon Van Etten is the best. She is absolutely brilliant, listen to her too. Thirdly, I need to listen to Airwaves, but I would definately like to see this Sharon/Leah/Nicole collaboration materialize because it would probably be the best thing ever. Fourthly, I have not seen Deep Rising but I do love monsters of the aquatic variety. Especially the Loch Ness monster, which, in my opinion, is basically an underwater dinosaur. And I love dinosaurs. Fifthly, I also asked Leah if there’s any hope of Scary Mansion playing in England and she said they will someday. In the meantime you should listen to her songs and love them as much as I do and then come to France with me to see her play (I really need a navigator, I am so directionally challenged… I’d probably end up in Norway or something.)

Finally, a ridiculously huge thanks to Leah for making wonderful music and answering the questions.

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3 Responses to Interview: Leah Hayes (Scary Mansion)

  1. riny February 20, 2009 at 1:45 am #

    cool interview. i thought i was the only scary mansion in the world but i guess not :) need to check out sharon van etten now.

  2. anikainlondon February 20, 2009 at 9:09 am #

    Yay. Yes you do need to listen to Sharon, she is AMAZING :)

  3. Anthony Chalmers August 19, 2009 at 4:26 pm #

    Thats funny Lisa Li-lund is a friend of a friend in Paris. I want to go back to Paris : (

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