Halley Greg's Journey from The Voice to Social Commentary in Music

April 14, 2024 01:23:32
Halley Greg's Journey from The Voice to Social Commentary in Music
Disability Empowerment Now
Halley Greg's Journey from The Voice to Social Commentary in Music

Apr 14 2024 | 01:23:32

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Show Notes

Seattle singer-songwriter Halley Greg first rose to acclaim during the blind auditions on Season 20 of The Voice. John Legend called her slowed-down, piano ballad version of Nelly Furtado’s “I’m Like a Bird” “poetic” and “beautifully crafted,” and the performance earned her a spot on Team Kelly. Her appearance on the show coincided with the release of her debut album, American Harlot, a feminist rebranding of the pop/rock albums of the early 2000s. Filled with distorted guitar solos and pithy pop vocal melodies, the album is an ode to empowered women everywhere—a rock and rage romp with a few upbeat […]
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Episode Transcript

Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Welcome to Disability Empowerment Now, Season 3. I'm your host, Keith Murfee DeConcini. Today I'm talking to Musician Halley Greg. Halley, thank you so much for coming on the show. Halley Greg: Yeah, thank you, Keith. I'm really excited to be here. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So I've found your original Kickstarter back in 19’ 18’, whenever that was. It feels like a lifetime ago. I always try to discover new music, because I'm a musician myself. We'll go into that later, if you want to. You were recording your first album. I looked it up and I wondered if I knew about the title beforehand because the title of the album, if you have it up, would've been the thing that caught my eye. Here it is America Harlot. I've listened to this album obsessively, it's not even funny. Halley Greg: Oh my gosh, that's so great to hear. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I've actually viewed it and listened to it as a concept album. As the American Harlot, going through all of these songs and getting to fault language, I will geek out over in due time. So when you were recording, writing and recording this album, you had another job, a full-time job. I know that job. Please tell us what that job was when you decided to veer and become a badass musician. Halley Greg: Yeah, yeah, when I was writing and recording my first album, I was working full time as a high school biology and environmental science teacher. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So, how does a high school biology and science teacher go from that job to veering off into, hey, I have a collection of little songs that I really like, and so I want to create an album in my spare time. And so I will reach out to a crowdfunding platform like Kickstarter and do it? Halley Greg: Yeah, so let's see. The story begins. Where does the story begin? That's the big question. Like, so. I was in 2018. I was a teacher and my main musical outlet at the time was just singing in a choir called the Esoterics, which is a really, really incredible choir in Seattle. Very, like, awesome. High level, they sing really hard music that is, you know, by its name esoteric. But you know, modern contemporary choral music. It was really cool. I'm getting distracted. Anyways, I was singing in that choir and I had a friend join me, a friend who is basically like, I've known him for like eight years. We were kind of friends, based on a college mutual acquaintance, and she started singing in that choir with me, her name is Jen Monette. And as we were singing in this choir, we became really just like increasingly closer and she started, you know, you know, opening up to me about her life, some of which plays into this album. Actually she kind of became my muse for a lot of songs. Cause we had some very overlapping experiences, but things synchronicity kind of started to happen in the world around that time. And Jan was already a musician or a singer kind of in the Seattle music scene. She'd been in a band called Wolf Child or Gabriel and Gabriel and the Wolf Child. I can't remember. I think now they just go by Wolfchild. Super awesome band. And anyway, she knew a bunch of musicians in the Seattle music scene already, and she invited one of them to come to our choir performance. Her name is Kelsey Sprague. Kelsey came to the choir performance and basically, you know, at the time was just looking for some fellow singers to just do like one gig with her. So me and Jen became her backup singers for this one gig and that one gig turned into two and that turned into three and that turned into all of a sudden I was in a band for the 1st time in my life and gigging in the, you know, out in the Seattle music scene. And it was a huge, huge deal for me. You know, at the time it was just like, oh my god, I can't even comprehend how cool my life is. Like, you know and we were playing to audiences of like, you know, anywhere from like five to 10. 30, you know, so like not huge shows. But I was having the time of my life and Kelsey, first, it was just like us singing as a trio together. And then she decided to form a band. And again, she already knew all these musicians in the scene. And so she pulled in people like Jarrett Samples and Charles Wicklander. And as we continue to play as a band, I became friends with these guys and I just got really, really inspired by Kelsey by, you know, kind of being part of the music scene. I had, like, toyed around with writing music just for fun through college through my 20s. I wrote like, maybe a song every like, three years, mostly on the ukulele. But I definitely didn't take it seriously and see myself as a songwriter. But I was going through a breakup at the time. And, that was, you know, there was a lot of stirring around inside of me. I was having my own like feminist awakening, you know, at the age of, I don't know, I was like 28 or 29 at the time. And, so, I got inspired to start writing songs, and I wrote, I wrote Fault Line first, actually. That was kind of like the big, I don't know, the first song I wrote in this whole project that would become, like, Hallie Gregg, and on, you know, my brand. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: That is the one song that I, which I wrote, like, it is, I'm a sucker for a power, power ballad. And that song is brilliant because it made me face all of my breakups all at once. Wow. I think it's very apt for what you went with that song, and you talk about it in another book, which we'll get to, but tell me about Heidel trap. And what, because I mentioned that I was listening to it as a concept album from the first few panel notes, panel notes, panel, yeah, anyway, uh, notes, uh, I viewed it as Add a lounge album like in the forties. I don't know why I would listen to it when I was walking my dog in the morning, and so tell us what's about the title track and how you get from the title track to songs like, no, go and Live. It's the Love Age. Literally I have this album memorized. I can quote it back to you like I wrote it and that should really. It does. You want to Halley Greg: You want to know about American Harlot? Yeah. So, let's see. Like I said, around this time I was having my sorry, I have to sneeze. Oh my gosh, is it going to happen? No? Okay, I'm going to try to ignore it. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I love when that happens. Halley Greg: My cat's allergens have really been affecting me recently. Alright, so yeah, at the time I, you know, I was exiting a relationship, in which I realized over time I was feeling very, um, constricted and I had become very disconnected from myself. And, that was, you know, that's a long story with a lot of complicated tendrils, but I can say that a lot of the themes surrounded things like autonomy, things like, you know, being a grown ass woman who is like sexually empowered, polyamory, you know, kind of the feelings around polyamory versus monogamy and more or less just I was thinking a lot about people's shame around sex and sexuality a lot more or less I had experienced, you know, one of the things that happened in that relationship that I left was that my partner was saying things that more or less made kind of implying that I should be ashamed of sexual experiences that I'd had, that I'd you know actively chosen to participate in before I came into this relationship, that relationship. And I thought that was pretty preposterous. And I thought that he was projecting a lot onto me. I thought it was pretty stupid. And then, you know, Yeah, yeah. And you know, as I was just like talking to a lot of my female friends who were also going, you know, going through their own journeys and relationships in their 20s, I realized just how many women around me had stories in which, you know, the men that they were in relationship with had a lot of insecurity and that insecurity manifested in some really, like, controlling behavior with their partners. And a lot of projections and blame and I was, yeah, I was just feeling a lot of, like, rebelliousness against that. A lot of sassy, sassy rebelliousness, you could call it. I think, you know, without a doubt, when you, if you like the song American Harlot, you'll probably be able to acknowledge that it's just dripping with satire and that just was everything that needed to be expressed in my heart at the time, and it really, I started to think about. Kind of the overlap. Oops. Sorry. I just pulled my microphone off here. I started to think about the overlap between women kind of bearing the burden of, I like to say, you know, I was thinking about how women bear the burden of America's sex shame. And we also often show. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Amen. Halley Greg: You know, women are obviously objectified in all kinds of ways, but also shamed for, you know, exhibiting any kind of interest in sexuality and sensuality and any kind of like ownership over their own bodies and simultaneously, you know, women are in relationship and interpersonal relationships and romantic relationships. Women are also often holding the burden of kind of the emotional, what would you call it? This kind of emotional landscape in the relationship. Like, in other words, like, because of, you know, the history of like, patriarchy, toxic masculinity, like women are often fall into the role of like therapist for their male partners, you know, because, you know, men don't, I'm super generalizing here, but there is a history of, you know, men, not really being able to process their emotion. And, you know, women do a lot of kind of pulling things out and holding space for things like anger, or in my case, you know, maybe I'll stop generalizing and I'll just speak more about my own personal experience. In my case, it was about. I felt like my partner wasn't analyzing his own emotions to the extent that he needed to actually understand himself and his behavior and how he was showing up in relationship with me. So, you know, I could try my best to point out to him how, you know, something that manifests as jealousy might actually have roots in just fear and insecurity, but if somebody's not willing to do that work and analysis themselves or with an actual, you know, professional therapist, then there's only so much you can do. So, yeah, I was kind of just like toying with these ideas of, I guess the harlot piece came up because, you know, I was thinking about, you know, some women I know who are sex workers who are dancers or strippers and how they are some of the most emotionally intelligent, incredible women I know. And so, yeah, I think like, you know, the harlot is a symbol for women who throughout history, you know, have been shamed for being a sexual creature, but who also have an incredible, you know, energy and wisdom about them and incredible capabilities of, well, all kinds of things. So, yeah, there's that. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So no go is another that really speaks as a it's something that I try to do, I fail a lot at, but the way you sing it, if it's not a fuck yes, then maybe it's a hell no. See, I don't fuck around with that mess, but maybe And I don't know. See, I love myself enough to not settle for no show. So, baby, if it's not a fuck yes, it's a no go. No go. Mm hmm. And so, and I just love how that's a dirty blues rock, uh, anthem. Which fully marries the lyrics, uh, and so that is one of my favorites on the album and, and like, what'd you go about? No Go and And Life are probably two of the most freeing and empowering tracks, in my mind, on the album. And then, Fault Line, as I mentioned earlier, just broke my heart in two. Every direction made me experience every wake up, as if each one of them happened on separate days of the week. That's how powerful a writer you are. And so let's get to your next album, for album number two, Straightjacket. Now, this album cover I should say a lot about, but I won't. But I just want to know where's the straight jacket? the back. It's this. And so why did you choose the title Straight Jacket? Yeah. Yeah. Halley Greg: Well, I had, you know, I had written this group of songs that I figured I would put into an album and it was all the rest of the songs minus the actual song Straightjacket. I got to the end of it, I had this group of songs in front of me and I realized that something was missing. I was trying to, you know, kind of capture a lot of what was on my heart and mind through the pandemic. But I realized that I hadn't yet written a song that was actually more autobiographical at that point in time. I think that's because I was going through a really hard time and I didn't, you know, I didn't, you know, just like everybody else, my life was kind of ripped out from under me, like you know, through the pandemic and it was a really vulnerable time. It was a time of a lot of anxiety and so I sat down and I was like, okay, I have to, I have to try to like, I have to try to create a song that captures my own personal emotional experience through the past year. And I ended up, it was a slow process. I kind of had to pull it out of myself, but. I ended up writing the song Straightjacket Part 2. I had already written the song for Straightjacket Part 1, but it wasn't called Straightjacket Part 1 at the time. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: What was it called? Halley Greg: Yeah, I think I was just referring to it as This Too Shall Pass, which is why that part is in parentheses. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah. That actually, not to critique your music, but I thought that This Too Shall Pass was the obvious. I saw the connection when I listened to Part 1 and Part 2, but I didn't include Part 2, which two job ads would have been the obvious choice, but go on. Halley Greg: Yeah, I guess, in my mind, those two songs were deeply connected thematically. They kind of, I just liked the idea of having some kind of a theme that, you know, was kind of set out at the beginning of the album and then kind of bubbled up much deeper into the album and you know, elaborated on it a little bit. But you know, I really loved the song straight jacket part two when I wrote it. I was like, damn, this is one of the weirdest and most interesting songs I've ever written. And, it’s like, yeah, I liked the word straight jacket because although I was writing about my personal, like, you know, experience during the pandemic, I felt like, well, we all just came out of this experience in which we were all kind of put in a straight jacket for a while. You know, we were all isolated for a while. We were all, you know, we had our various limbs taken away from us. I truly like the idea of straight, the word straight jacket in that line in that. In straightjacket part two came from this image that I couldn't get out of my head of feeling like I, you know, in the beginning of 2020, I was coming into just this, like, massive feeling of empowerment and I, you know, I had just started doing music. Really. I just had my first full band show. I just released American Harlot. I felt like my life was about to like, you know, I was about to like blast off and I quit my job so I could my teaching job so I could do music and focus on music full time and then of course the pandemic happened and everything shut down and there was no music scene to To do anything, you know, with all this energy that I had, like bursting inside of me at that moment in time, it just all of a sudden had nowhere to go. The image that I couldn't get out of my mind was more or less that I had just grown and like a new arm, like a superpower. And all of a sudden it was being tied behind my back. Like I just, and it was infuriating, driving me absolutely bonkers. So, that's kind of where the title Straightjacket came from. And, I guess when it comes to the cover, I wanted something that would evoke the tension that is, you know, that is evoked when you say the word straight jacket and what I was feeling and why I you know, chose that name, but I thought that actually just a picture of me in a straight jacket would be a little bit too like on the nose. And yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And so I just worked with my super, super clever, very, um, brilliant, um, artist. photographer friend, photographer and artist friend, uh, Lucas, um, to, yeah, just kind of like creatively come up with a different way of like visually evoking the idea of tension, like internal tension, external tension, the tension in the world, the tension inside yourself, um, and that's where the, all the straps came in. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Nice. So, I love the stories behind the songs because it allows me to walk with the audience through the creation of their art. And I, as a fellow audience, I just geek out over that. I love how this is fun. Full scale. And I love the pictures, two in particular, which I will show. Halley Greg: For the benefit of your listeners, I'll explain, you know, that you're, you're referring to the booklet that I made. To go along with my album. And yeah, when I ran my second Kickstarter, I decided that one of the rewards that someone could get by investing in the creation of the album and, you know, funding me would be, I would make this booklet to go along with the, the album that I would, you know, have the lyrics on one side and the kind of the story behind the song on the other. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So the pictures were very evocative of the stories that you told. Two in particular caught my eye from an audience perspective. I wanted to know how this person got imbued with the badass confidence they displayed in this picture. And then I turned the page and I'm like, Oh yeah! Halley Greg: Oh, I love that! Keith Murfee-DeConcini: So tell me why the photos. And the placement of them was so important because they all correspond, in a way, to the song. And so, tell me about that process. Halley Greg: Well, I can't even tell you how happy you're making me by saying this right now, because I spent an insane amount of time creating that booklet. I agonized about every detail and I'm like, oh my God, I'm going to order a hundred of these, send out like 50 of them to my Kickstarter reporters. Maybe like two people are actually going to look through it and read through every word. And I'm like, why am I doing this to myself? But I was like, no, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I analyzed every single word. You're making me just glow. That story about the witch we can get into later broke my heart. I mean, I was bawling, and it's like. Halley Greg: Are you talking about the one that led to life? Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, the way you write, you put the listener or the reader right in the room with you. Right, whether it be your songs or the stories behind them. And so, yes, I did analyze every single word. Halley Greg: Thank you. Thank you so much. Really. Let's see. Your question was about the relationships between the photos and the songs. Yeah, I mean, I was blessed to have, you know, a lot of excellent live photos from our concerts to pick from, taken mostly by my incredible show photographer friend, Doug Indrick, he has, you know, that second photo that you pointed to, he has managed to capture something about my performances that truly have impacted me. When I see those pictures, it has boosted my confidence a lot to, you know, I mean, in the moment I'm just performing and just, you know, trying to embody the song, the way, you know, give it the emotion that I felt when I was writing it. But then to see some of those photos that he captures of me after the fact, I'm like, damn, like I look pretty baller. Yeah. So I had, you know, I had those show photos to choose from. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah. Yeah. Halley Greg: Yeah. And, and then I have this kind of more portrait style photography that I did with this amazing woman named Karen Leanne Kirsch and, you know, that photo, that photo shoot was, I've done a couple photo shoots with her because I just, everything was just like flowing and seemed to, I got amazing photos out of them. That first photo that you pointed to that was across from the ocean I was just wanting to like, I was trying to think about my brand and what, what my, whatever my brand was, what, you know, whoever I was as, as Holly Gregg, but also myself, it's really, I had only in the past like, couple years really come into a space where I was like, really even understanding my own personal style, basically, like, leaning into my more non binary nature, even though I use she, her pronouns. If you call me they, then, I'd be fine with that. But, I identify as a woman, but also as a tomboy. I guess, as you know, I really enjoy kind of, just embodying a little bit more like masculine presence in how I dress and obviously my hair and everything. And so this photo shoot was, it meant a lot to me because, you know, I found all these example photos of sexy tomboy women on Instagram and I was like, I think this is what I want to go for. And then, you know, I, you put the clothes on you, we wear the right outfit. And all of a sudden you just like, feel more like yourself. And you know, in that photo shoot, I was really just feeling more like my, like. Just the coolest, most true version of myself that I'd ever experienced. And you know, when it comes to the pairing with the songs, like, I guess, you know, everything I just said was kind of just explaining like the, you know, the power and confidence that I was embodying in those pictures and how I got there. But I definitely, you know, thought took the time to, you know, like listen to the energy of each of these songs that I had written and, and think about like, okay, what, you know, what imagery can I put next to this song? Like, you know, it took me a long time to figure out what image to put next to the song that led to life because that's such an intense story. I'm like, it can't be a picture of, you know, me being sexy on stage. Nope. So, so yeah, I, you know, for the ocean, I was like, I need a photo of me looking directly into the camera as almost like a dare, you know, like I'm kind of like, come at me, bro. Because, you know, that's, that's kind of the energy of that Keith Murfee-DeConcini: song. Halley Greg: And, and then, uh, let's see, the next one is, uh, no room for me. Is that the next time? The next one you Keith Murfee-DeConcini: showed, the next one is on the backside of the ocean lid. Oh yeah. Halley Greg: Okay. That makes sense. Yeah. I couldn't remember. That makes sense that I chose that one for the ocean too. Yeah. It's like, yeah. Um, you know, I mean, that song, quite frankly, I wrote about Donald Trump. I don't think it's very, it's very hidden. If you listen to the lyrics, um, yeah, I wrote it in October. I guess, you know, you've read the stories, but for everyone else. I wrote that story and, or that song in fall of 2020 as we were heading into the election and I was just feeling, so much, so much, kind of anger, so much, what would you call it? Whatever the feeling of like, just being appalled, you know, is and. You know, that song gave me an outlet to, you know, I think I said something in the booklet about it. I felt like I was casting a spell and so I, you know, that photo, the second one of me, on stage that's like, wow, that's like my most witchy photo that's ever been taken. It's pretty insane. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah. Yeah, I mean getting into some of the songs, I'll Be Your Demon, which written the same fault line, and you said something really true here. I was considering the strange truth of how we so often demonize ex lovers or ex friends. People who have heard us, and who we have, that's very insightful for a breakup. So, and again, this photo could not be better placed. I do my homework and, yeah. And so, tell me about going from fault line. Albe Your Demon because they all very different songs and straight jacketed ears a incredibly different album than American Hoed. Talk about some of the compelling contrasts between going from one album to the next. Halley Greg: What a cool question. Well, I guess I'll just start with, you know, the two songs that you brought up. I think that'll be a good way for me to talk about that. You know, Fault Line, I was grieving when I was writing Fault Line. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: It showed in your last door. Through that soul where you just, you know, ah. Please. Halley Greg: The Power Ooze, as I like to call them. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: The Power Ooze, thank you. That would have saved me that Emerging Auto clip. But that, that just pierces my heart every time because I, here I am, judging you about your music. I, that wasn't It wasn't something that someone said, Ah, yeah, that is what this song. Let's manufacture it. No, the way you did that was, I think, the perfect coda for that album and why the lyrics were perfect. And why does the power drive home that lyric, crescendo. And so, what about transitioning to I'll be your demon? Yeah. So yeah, I took away your time. Halley Greg: Yeah, no, it's, I mean, I love hearing what you're saying. It's so wonderful to talk to someone who is deeply observant about my music and albums. It's really, really awesome. But yeah, if, you know, if I, Fault Line was this, it was, I was grieving the end of a relationship, but also, gathering the courage that I needed to, to leave it. And, but you know, it's, so that's, that's like one side of the, I hate actually the term coin because coins only have two sides and sometimes there's a lot of sides to something. That's one side of the dodecahedron. But, um, Um, you know, if, if the grief and, you know, kind of gathering your courage up is, um, one side of leaving a relationship, um, there's also the side of, of anger and, um, rebelliousness and a feeling of injustice that is different. It's like, that's a different emotion that deserves a difference, its own song, you know? Yeah. And so, right. I, um, yeah. You know, when I wrote, I wrote I'll Be Your Demon, I mean, I wrote that actually around the time that I was actually still making the first album, but I just, I didn't have it finished enough to put it on the first album. I truly do feel like it almost would have made more sense on the first album, but whatever, you know, I also think of I'll Be Your Demon as, Like American harlot part two, like it's a, it's very, yeah, yeah. Even just the way that I like using language, you know, in the course of American Harlot, I'm kind of. I'm saying like, oh, I'll be this American harlot, you know, I'll be this for you, I'll be this for you. And then, and I'll be your demon. I'm kind of doing a similar thing. I'm like, I'm using that kind of facetious language of like, sure, like, I'll be your demon, you know, and similarly sassy. Yeah, but I, you know, I decided, even though I didn't put I'll Be Your Demon on the American Harlot album, I definitely really wanted to, like, finish it and, and release it, because I thought it was one of the most, I honestly thought it was one of the best hooks I've ever written, like, the chorus of I'll Be Your Demon. I still think that I might, like, re-produce that song and make it sound completely different, make it like an EDM track or something. But yeah, I think that's the best way of putting it, you know, that, like I'll be your demon is on the second album, almost as a, like a, like, I don't know. I, this is a, you know, this is a really dark album. Like I need, I need at least a handful of songs that are a little bit more upbeat and sassy and kind of bring a kind of a through line from my first album to my second album. But also there are no rules. Like, I don't know, you know, like. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: No, the stories in this, like, I'm trying to look for the one that leads to life in a second, because that's very moving, but I was also I'm very moved by a very vulnerable story you shared in this book where you experienced several moments of doubt in your current relationship and not being in the quote unquote honeymoon phase anymore and going through that transition. Why do you love me? Why are we doing this? And you said, of course, your partner would never tell it like that. And you were rediscovering your sexuality, your sensuality. And I thought that was a very brave window. Into your personal life, like I could literally see it happen in your kitchen as you were writing the story about in this book . Again, your writing prowess is next level, and that's coming from a fellow writer, so lead to like, which the story I talked about, George had me bawling. Halley Greg: Oh. Want me to, like, tell a little bit about the story, just for, um, So I wrote Led to Life, after, about a year after I lost a student, one of my students, in a very tragic accident. A student who I was really, not super close to, but I had worked very hard to build a good rapport with the student because he had a really challenging life. He was a foster kid and had been pulled out of school for two years and then dropped in the middle of, you know, school again as a freshman in high school and was dealing with a lot. So I worked really hard to build a relationship with this student, and he was struggling in school a lot, and he ended up, the summer after I had him as a student in my biology class, he was making a music video, he was planning on making a music video to a rap song, and he was playing around with a gun, and it went off, and he died. He was killed. And, I was deeply, deeply, yeah, how do you even say it? Yeah, I was absolutely distraught by this kid because, I mean, it's just, yeah, when, when a kid dies, it's just the most horrific thing ever. And especially in such a ridiculous way. I use the word ridiculous because I don't know, there's just. It just made me so mad that this 15 year old had to die in this way by, you know, playing around with a gun. I just like, yeah, you know, I've, I just wanted, I felt so many things. I wanted to go back in time and, you know, like, Make sure that he was I don't know engaged in some other kind of some other summer activities So he didn't end up doing you know doing this thing and sitting around and playing with a gun and I wanted to I want to go make all guns illegal because why should a 15 year old be playing the gun like that should never happen? Meanwhile, you know, it was 2020 and at the same time there's all of this you know, police brutality and gun violence happening around the United States, and I encountered this organization called led to life and they are an incredible, really, really powerful kind of restorative justice organization that works with families of people who have lost loved ones to gun violence and they have, they create these ceremonies of healing where they actually with the families will melt down a gun and turn it into the handle of a shovel and then plant a tree in honor of the person who was lost and I just I just lost my shit when I heard about this organization. I was so moved. I was so amazed that, you know, in a world where in America, in Western culture, we really don't have a lot of healing ceremonies that are accessible to a lot of people. Grieving ceremonies, you know, ceremonies to process grief around traumatic societal, you know, experiences, you know, occurrences, everything. And the fact that these amazing leaders had created, I believe in the power of ritual or ceremony, you know, like creating space for something. And creating space both for whatever emotion you want to, you know, honor. I think that's what it's about. But this idea that, you know, this idea of like restorative justice of and that's a big term. It's like, there's so much there, but the idea that, you know, we could at least symbolically take something that is, that is an entity of violence and turn it into something that is an entity of, of healing and growth and beauty is, it's just so powerful. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: And there are other very personal songs on this album, like No Room For Me and Don't Take This Away From Me Now, which ends on a Very interesting lyrical metaphor, analogy. I'm not taking what's yours. I'm just done being down on all fours. Of course, the story to that, it's about a twin pair of dogs. But, you know, because, let's be honest, it had to be. But, tell me about finishing the album. With those lines in mind and how it all came together. I mean, if American Ho is a bluesy rock concept album, straight Jacket, it's a very socially conscious album, what's the circle and you end with the actual circle here and so tell us about how you got from the first song to the last. Halley Greg: Yeah, I mean, through 2020, 2021, I, for a while, didn't think I was going to be able to write any music because there was so much going on in the world, you know, through that, the, the first year or two of the pandemic, um, I was like, how can I possibly, I don't even know what to say, you know, I, I, and I'm also creatively drained because I don't have my, you know, social community and my music scene and my, my job, my career, everything. Um, but. I don't know, you know, when I, when I had enough time to myself, uh, sitting in this hotel room, waiting to, you know, to do my blind audition for The Voice, over the course of a month, I was like, okay, well, I got to write some music because I don't have anything else to do. So when it came down to it, I was just like, I have to, I have to try to write about what we're all collectively. Seeing right now and beholding and processing, you know, I mean, like the election, the police brutality, just, you know, the, these systems that we're watching, you know, like our, our health systems crumbling around us, you know, or not necessarily crumbling, but, the inequity in all of our systems was just so right in front of your face, you know, you couldn't ignore it. And so, I mean, I had to, I had to write about all of that. That's what was on my mind and I needed to process it. And I was still, you know, the song Don't Take This From Me Now, is, you know, another, another side of my feminist explorations, and, yeah, I loved, I loved the idea of ending with, don't take this from me now. And that big, you know, that big choral kind of like this, this lady choir at the end singing those, those lyrics. I'm not taking what's yours? I'm just being down four. You know, it really, it has. It has that kind of like sassy like a hint of sass, but again, it's like, okay, that's definitely like part of my brand, you know, um, but also, yeah, but also it's a whole vibe of empowerment, you know, it's a whole vibe of like standing up and facing. Facing the bully, standing up and saying like, I'm not going to stand for this injustice. And I liked, you know, that song in particular is kind of about how, I mean, it's easier to just get specific with an example. There's a feminist story that can be told there. But it's also, you know, about, it's about any kind of, you know, relationship between oppressor and oppressed. It's about when, you know, when one group that has been subjugated is kind of rising up, be it people of color or the LGBTQ, LGBTQ community or women, there's always a backlash. There's always a, you know, the dom, the dominant forces, dominant people being like, stay in your lane. You know, like don't. How dare you, like, claim, try to claim this. How dare you think that you deserve extra support or something like that, or space, you know, or how dare you think that, you know, you experience this, but I don't. And so that line was really important to me, I'm not taking what's yours. I liked kind of pointing to that to be like, this isn't yours, you know, like this, these systems of inequity that we have everywhere around us, these, these hierarchies of power, um, they're all constructed, you know, by people to, to preserve systems of power and to continue to give power to, um, you know, to the, whoever is dominant. And, it's not, you know, it's that's not the way things were born to be. It's like, we're, we're born for something better than that. So. Yeah. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: I mean, going back to American Harlot, cause now I'm thinking about it. I, they almost seem like they could very much be siblings. That explains. The albums? Yeah, the albums. I love that. The large paragraph in your thank yous, uh, which also really made me bawl, by the way. Aw. Large Bernard Leeds, to all the powerful Chelsea women in my family, Aunt Bob and Grandma Ellen, Janet, for being my role models, for showing me what it looks like for women to be strong, independent, sharp sighted, fierce, and simultaneously compassionate and nurturing. For your courage, intelligent, [00:55:00] intelligence, insight, fullness, resilience, resistance, resourcefulness, and grace for teaching me how to listen to my inner voice, how to stand up for myself, and how to know when it's time to walk away. To all the wild women out there. To all those singing over the bones. Uh, music runs in my family. I have a sister in New York, Diva Dikicini, who I must introduce you to. You two would just Completely vibe. Mm-Hmm. . Shout out to my kids. Viva. I'm also a little kids, so whenever you run [00:56:00] out of ideas, I've got 3000. Put them on one of my hard drives. When is the album pre coming up? Halley Greg: Well, first of all, there will be more releases very soon. I can say that before I talk about next album stuff, I just want to say thank you for actually reading that back to me right now. I, um, you know, it's been a, it's been like four or five years since I wrote the gratitudes for that, for the first album. And, it's kind of fun when you have somebody read something back to you that you wrote a long time ago and you're like, damn, that was pretty good. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: If you want me to read you the entire album, I will. That will probably fall on the register notes, but yeah, if you need a boots of confidence, I've got your back. Don't worry. Halley Greg: Yeah. I mean that, that. I, you know, I meant every word of what I said that when I was thinking all these women in my family, like the reason that I can write the songs that I'm writing and the reason that I can, you know, convey these messages of empowerment is because I had so many people around me, the women in my life, and also the men in my life, and also the non binary people in my life, lift me up and, you know, encourage me and embolden me in so many ways. And that's really, really important. The next album is going to be different. Very, very different. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: No, you're not going for a trilogy. Halley Greg: No. I have been saying recently, just remarking to myself that I feel like I have gotten all my angry feminist out of me. It's, it's, it's out there. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Say that isn't so. Say that isn't so. Halley Greg: Well, I mean, maybe the angry part, I'll still be making sassy feminist music and there will probably be you know, like seeds of rebelliousness and they're still, it's just going to sound different. I feel, I mean, I, you know, I made a bunch of bluesy rock songs because I blessedly formed this, you know, relationship with, with, with my band members, with Jared samples, with Tim Van Buren and Paul Davis. And I love the shit out of them and I want to keep making music with them. And we, I'm sure we will in some way, shape, or form. But what I'm feeling called to create right now, or to move towards is, I want to make music that is similar in vibe to the music that I listen to the most and that I love the most. And the music that I listen to all the time is like vibey, fun, funky, soul, still sometimes emotional, maybe indie electronic music, but neo soul, and indie R&B, and indie electronic music, indie pop music, that's what really intrigues me and excites me, and I've been getting very, I've been having a lot of fun I'm learning more about digital music production because I think just the sounds that we can make now, when you know how to press the buttons and use things like logic and pro tools and, you know, Ableton are just so cool. I just, that's the shit I love listening to most of the time. So, I want to challenge myself to grow as a musician, as an instrumentalist, and as a producer. And I also just you know, although it's really fun to get up on stage and sing songs like hey and gaslight and no room for me and the ocean and all of these songs that are, like, strongly, like, filled with anger, that was really needed for a while. And I'm glad these songs will continue to exist and inspire people and give people catharsis. But I just feel like giving people more joy now and creating beauty, you know, I just want to make songs that are fun and dancey cause I love to dance. I just want to make songs that make me either, you know, sink into a, like an emotional, vibe space that I find calming or songs that make me shake my booty on the dance floor. Because. That's another thing that I like doing and you know, it's fun that you see my first album as a concept album because I've been also joking to my friends recently that what I'm, whatever I'm going to make next, there'll be some singles just kind of like dropping out at some, I've got a couple songs in my backlog, so to speak. So I'm like, yeah, I'll just record that release as a single, just cause like, I like it and I want it to be out on the platforms and stuff, but when I release an album next. It's going to be a polyamory concept album and, you know, yeah, I really believe that there is not nearly enough music and art overall, in general, right now, that is like telling stories of all the numerous people out in the world right now who are doing polyamory. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, I mean you touch on that briefly in and live. Halley Greg: Right. Very brief, like just one song. That's my only poly, really like poly song yet. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: But I also love the music and how a lot of the lyrics and the music are perfectly married. Thank you. Whereas No Go is a dirty blues rock anthem. And life is a trainwreck. Pop sensibility songs that, I mean, there are so many great lyrics in here. I can't get over how talented you are. Halley Greg: Yeah, And Life is playful. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yes, And life is playful. It's, there are drugs to me. Oh, yeah. You might like it simple, you might think it's wrong too, but stop and ask yourself, are you suffering because you want to? That lyric hit. Halley Greg: Wanna know where that came from? Oh my god. So, um, one of my Hold Keith Murfee-DeConcini: on, hold on. Let's all have my cake. And yets all you did too. Thank you. Mm-Hmm. . And I'd love to have you say thank you in the song . And you know what the beds part is. You can have yours too. I mean, that's just one verse and should show. Uh, and so, yeah, it makes sense that you want your next album to [01:04:00] explore those concepts. Yeah, there's some there. Halley Greg: It's just so many stories to be told. There's so much, there's so much that I have not covered yet in song yet, but like, there's a, you know, poly people's lives are complicated as fuck, but like, you know, the kind of like, emotional work that you have to do and the communication and just, you know, relationship building and everything. But they're complicated. And so there's so much story there. There's so much to like to draw out. And so much that I don't hear it being sung in other songs. So I'm just challenging myself. I'm like, what would it sound like? What needs to be said about this and I truly I'm like I could write like four albums about it. I probably will be writing Polly songs for the next four decades, but Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Again, you Paul might said stir to mind. I Had to bring you in your pod to New York Geek out over I usually don't born over, uh, my own family on this podcast, but catching your vibe and listening to your albums, it felt like heaven. Kindred spirits. Halley Greg: That's awesome. Whenever that happens, I would love to meet your sister. That sounds amazing. Yeah. what else was I gonna tell you? Oh, uh, those lines, um, uh, you, let's see, which, how did it go? Um, the one about. Like, are you sure, uh, you're not suffering because you want to? [01:06:00] Yeah, uh, Keith Murfee-DeConcini: are you, you mean, you might like it simple, you might think it's wrong to. Yeah, stop and ask yourself, Halley Greg: are you suffering because you want to? Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah. And I mean, judge those two lines. Well, like, wow. That's deep ass that’s in such a freaking song. And I'm like, again. Halley Greg: Yeah. So that line, actually it makes me really happy that that line was actually. And it came straight from my good friend, who happens to be an ex of mine, he's the only ex I'm still friends with, and he was the first person I was in a polyamorous relationship with and I feel like, you know, it's almost, it's just like, evidence that, I don't know, polyamorous relationships are sometimes can end a lot more badly than they should. Beautifully and peacefully than monogamous relationships that you could just do. Yeah, we were just sitting around having dinner at some point talking about our polyamorous lives because he's so Polly and I'm still Polly, but now we're with different people. And, um, I think we were, I think it was right when I was, like, Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. I had successfully extricated myself from this other relationship that had been monogamous, and I wasn't happy, and you know, blah, blah, blah. Um, and I just started seeing my partner, who's now my partner of like four years, um, and And they already had a long term committed partner. So it was, you know, automatically Polly. I'm like, I'm starting to date somebody who's in another relationship. And, um, I just had this amazing, like joyful surge of delight about being Polly again. And just, I was like, oh man, like this just feels more right to me. It just makes more sense. And so, and, and like, yeah, my friend Andy. It told me about this phrase that he told me in Spanish and I feel like I'm gonna butcher it if I try to remember it, but there is a, there's like a saying in Spanish that is basically, it translates to like, oh, you're suffering cause you want to, you know, man, I wish I could remember how to say it, but I can't. And, you know, we were just talking about more or less the people who may be choosing monogamy still just because it's what they know, just because they're afraid to try anything else. And, and so it's, you know, this just kind of joke, like, Are you sure you're not kind of like creating your own misery, you know, like, and just kind of like living in a life that you don't actually like and there's that, you know, that's a thing that people do like they, you know, they sit in their discontent and then it becomes kind of a what do you call it? I don't know, masochistic, you know? Yeah. Yeah, um. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: One suggestion, or one request for the new album. Write a song about the dynamics of a polyamorous relationship. What it's like to be in said relationship with a long term partner, like you are with yours, who also has a long term partner, and where does jealousy and the negation of jealousy fit in the balance? Because, I'll tell you, I'm Mark Mag Yeah, I can't even use that word for some reason tonight. But I'm just one of several people, one of many people who, if they're honest with themselves. That's one of the first questions they have on how do you share a partner with another partner? How do you not get wrapped up in it? I think it's easy to demonize what you don't understand about a different kind of lifestyle. Yeah. And so that would be one, one request that I have. I would like to see it because you can look it up online, you can read it in a book, but you have such a way with words that just like, I'll be your demon. It's really American hollered part to I want and live. Part two. Yeah. It's like, all throughout that song, because I could tell that you really meant every word of that song. I mean, that's another vocal delivery that you couldn't possibly think on the album. And so, that. That got me curious. Well, how many partners? How do you negotiate certain things? And how do you avoid the green eyed monster that Halley Greg: Yeah, I mean, there's so much there. Like, I could talk for another, like, hour just to kind of touch on but I can tell you, yeah, I can tell you that, you know, whatever I create with this next album will definitely touch on a lot of different aspects of the way that I see the album right now. I keep doing that again. Okay. The way that I see the album is actually kind of like, I'm, I want to like, paint a picture of this dodecahedron that is polyamory and like all the different aspects of it. And yeah, so I would like to be able to have one song that is, you know, kind of about jealousy and it's opposite, which in poly in polyamory, we call compersion. And I don't know exactly how I'm going to tell that story yet, but I want to craft it carefully. I think one of the reasons that I'm going to take a lot of time in and craft is going to be more intentional with crafting specific like sonic vibes is that I think there's a lot that I'm going to need to convey more with just the feeling of the song, more than the words. It's like, yeah, I'll def, maybe I'll write a book about polyamory one day, because like, truly, you know, to, to tell, everything. It's like, I would just have to switch into pros. Like, there's just a lot of details, logistical details, you know, and like things like that. But what's more important to me right now is, um, like telling little, I want to give little, you know, just, um, little snippets, little tastes of what our life, our lives look like, and how much joy there is. in our lives, how, how free we feel and the fact that we're choosing this alternative lifestyle because it's awesome. And I mean, but it also, there will be some songs that talk about the hard stuff. Like there are definitely different kinds of challenges that come with being polyamorous. Um, just like there are challenges that come with monogamy. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, yeah. I said that word. Halley Greg: There you go. Yeah and you know, there are ways that we've all worked through jealousy and kind of just like reframed it, you know? To the point where, I'm like, it's actually, I don't know, I just have such a different relationship with the idea of jealousy right now. I know when I feel it, I still feel it, at times, in moments, but I also think about it so differently. Normally, as soon as I start feeling jealous, I'm like, that's not the end of the story. There's always, there's something else there. And so that's kind of what I'll be doing in this album in some way, shape or form. It's just like peeling back the layers. And just helping people understand all the fun, weird, sexy, amazing things that, you know, are a part of this way of living and loving. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Well, I definitely can't wait. Going back to the top, I mentioned that I was listening to your first album as a concept, and it's called American Horror. This is your photo, and I thought it would be very wrong for me to view the album as an autobiographical statement of the first track, even though you went into it. into the personal nature of it, and the sats never, never lose your sats. And so, I kept imagining this character, And going through the entire album, different levels and layers of relationship. And that's how I got to listen to it as a concept album. So much that I can't really not listen to a concept album Because the songs go To the different lay layers of the highs and loads of relationships. I mean, legend, love, age. Why do you love me? What the, I mean, those three songs are basic, like they'd sound like a trilogy of them. And so, I want to thank you extremely for coming on this hardcast. I hope you will come back, kids. We literally talked for three hours. No, five hours? Yeah. Uh, very, very easily. Uh, Halle, you are amazing. I am in such awe of your writing ability, of your singing, of your confidence. As I showed in your photos. You are not bad, I don't think. You, as a high school teacher, you weren't doing what you were called to do, but you veered into a completely different arena that really moved me. Took you and made you soar, and I hear it on every track you sing, in every story I read, and you have a lifelong fan, and I love you. I don't think I would have discovered you without Kickstarter. Yeah, thanks, Kickstarter. Kickstarter for this, uh, friendship. And where can people find out more information about your music? Halley Greg: Yeah, well they can definitely, you know, follow me on Instagram. I love Instagram followers. My handle is at HalleGreggMusic. That's H A L L E Y G R E G, music. Spotify and YouTube followers are, or subscribes, or whatever you call them, are, are really awesome for artists as well. And if you want to find out more about the music, message me on Instagram and I'll send one of those books that you have. I still got a lot sitting over there and I need to sell them somehow. Eventually I'll like, set up something on my website so I can sell the merch and the booklets. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Whoa, gee, I found the second to be so enhanced. I Halley Greg: I know, I gotta write one for the first album. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yes and if there's one album over the other that I personally prefer, it's the first one and not because of the title track, but just Because of the Blueji Rock lounge sound, and it just makes me want to know all about what inspired these songs. I don't know how many partners you have, but I have to think about reading the thank yous in this album where you quote that you oh, the first part, the gratitude, where you quote that you lived off coffee for a few hours of sleep and that you went into school the next day. Are you still in a committed relationship with coffee? Haha, Halley Greg: haha, hahahaha, that's funny. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Yeah, yeah, well, elites, I leave you laughing. Uh, Howley, thank you so much again. You're always welcome on the show, and I do Very hope, very much hope to meet you in person. Absolutely. One of these days. We'll have Halley Greg: to make it happen. Thanks Keith Murfee-DeConcini: for A very kindred spirit, musically and lyrically. Definitely. Halley Greg: So you're in New York? Keith Murfee-DeConcini: New York and Arizona. I bounced back and forth from my job. Somehow, in a way, that's a whole nother part that's what we don't ever look for. Halley Greg: Well, we'll have to get coffee sometime when I'm in Arizona or New York. I'll definitely hit you up. Thank you so much for having me on the show. Keith Murfee-DeConcini: Thank you, and have a great night. Halley Greg: Thank you. you too. Bye, Keith. Keith: You have been listening to Disability Empowerment Now. I would like to thank my guest, You, our listener and the Disability Empowerment Team that made this episode possible. More information about the podcast can be found at DisabilityEmpowermentNow.com or on social media @disabilityempowermentnow. The podcast is available wherever you listen to podcasts or on the official website. Don’t forget to rate, comment, and share the podcast! This episode of Disability Empowerment Now is copyrighted 2024.

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