The Harmaleighs: “We are ready to rock.” (2/15 at JB’s w/ Lilly Hiatt)

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Nashville-based (traditionally acoustic) folk pop duo The Harmaleighs.  August of 2019 saw the release of She Won’t Make Sense, the sophomore...

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from Nashville-based (traditionally acoustic) folk pop duo The Harmaleighs.  August of 2019 saw the release of She Won’t Make Sense, the sophomore LP from Haley Grantwho (lead vocals and guitar) and Kaylee Jasperson (bass and backup vocals), which had the band working with producer (and Lucius drummer) Dan Molad, turning up the volume for a bigger and louder sound and experimenting with synthesizers and strings.  The album itself, though, represents some of the most intimate and introspective songs of The Harmaleighs’ career, documenting Haley’s trials and tribulations with depression and anxiety.  Although the band did some touring shortly after the album’s release, they’ve remained largely quiet since the pandemic, with the exception of their Barely Making Sense EP, which was a companion piece of sorts to the LP.  However, The Harmaleighs are about to kick off a few weeks of live dates, starting with a jaunt supporting Lilly Hiatt, which will have them at Johnny Brenda’s next Tuesday, February 15th.  I recently got a chance to chat with Kaylee Jasperson about what the band’s been up to over the past few years and what fans can expect from them in 2022.

Izzy Cihak: Since this is a Philadelphia-based publication, I have to ask your thoughts on the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection.  You’ve played here a few times now.  Any favorite memories?

Kaylee Jasperson: Every time we come to Philadelphia, we have a great time.  Our first stop is always Goldie’s for our favorite falafel in the country.  The band loves that place so much that we all bought shirts and did a photo shoot while wearing them last time we were there.  We usually played at Boot & Saddle and always had awesome shows… that one hurt a lot when it closed.  Philly definitely shows up for live music and we’re excited to be back.

Izzy: This is super specific, but the last time we spoke (December of 2017) you mentioned that you had recently been contacted to ask to use your music in a French film about a nudist colony.  How did that all turn out?  I’m not sure that I’ve come across the film…

Kaylee: Haha, wow, great memory!  So, it did happen, which is one of our favorite accomplishments to date.  The movie is called Normandie Nue.  Check it out!  We never saw the movie, but our song is in the trailer.  I’m still not entirely sure what the premise of it is even after watching the trailer, but I’m here for it.

Izzy: I know that you’re based out of Nashville, which is home to a lot of my favorite artists.  What are your thoughts on the city’s current music and art scene?

Kaylee: Nashville’s music scene feels like a bubbling cauldron right now, like we are on the cusp of music just waiting to explode out.  Artists are slowly starting to release music and play live again and that’s exciting.  I think we’re going to see some spectacular records/shows this year.  We’ve all been waiting to get out there and it finally feels like the right time.  I recently caught Molly Parden’s release show at The Basement.  She’s one of my favorite artists in town and released an awesome EP, Rosemary, in 2020 and was just now able to play it live in its entirety.  Not only did she sound incredible, but it felt so good to connect in a room with music lovers again.  Really looking forward to experiencing more of that in the city.

Izzy: I have to admit, I’ve been pretty out of the loop with you since you released She Won’t Make Sense in 2019 and was surprised to see your name pop up on the Johnny Brenda’s website, but I just saw that you released the Barely Making Sense EP in 2020.  In a general sense, what have you been up to over the course of the past few years?

Kaylee: Well as we all know, the past two years have been weird.  We released Barely Making Sense as a side dish to our record She Won’t Make Sense.  It was more of an acoustic take on the LP with an acoustic cover sprinkled in.  We didn’t name it because of the state of the world, but it was aptly named with life barely making sense during that time.  We didn’t promote it because it didn’t feel right to take up space on social media while so much racial injustice was occurring.  Haley and I have spent the majority of the last two years connecting with our friends and finding/exploring our other passions.  Haley built out a van that she lives in now, and I went to Colorado for a bit to work at a campground/artist retreat.  After March 2020, we didn’t rehearse or play a show until June 2021.  This tour will be the first time we’ve hit the road since the pandemic started.

Izzy: She Won’t Make Sense represented a new sound of sorts for the band, something a little bigger and heavier, but also dancier.  Is that a direction you’re still liking and exploring?

Kaylee: Definitely.  At the root of our music, it’s all about the songwriting and storytelling.  That will always ring true, but we’ve definitely enjoyed the production aspect more and have had fun creating music with more oomph.  But don’t worry, we also still enjoy our tender whisper singing moments.

Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your more recent sounds?  I feel like it probably reached a new fanbase.

Kaylee: She Won’t Make Sense definitely reached a new audience and the best reactions have come out of the content of the record, not necessarily it’s more driven/upbeat vibe.  It’s a vulnerable record.  Haley wrote about her journey with her mental health and it’s incredible to see people who resonate with that.  I feel honored to be a part of helping start the conversation of mental health. It’s important and beautiful to see people reach out and feel safe to be vulnerable about how they relate to the record.

Izzy: You’re about to kick off a handful of dates (including some with Lilly Hiatt, of whom I’m also a fan).  What can be expected of your live show when you’re here next week at Johnny Brenda’s?

Kaylee: We are ready to rock.  We’ve been waiting to play live and we just want everyone have fun.  Our set list is full of some old hits, a delicate cover, and some new gems.  Haley and I secretly want to be comics, so get ready to hear some embarrassing/hilarious stories mixed in the set.

Izzy: Finally, what’s next for you?  How do you hope and plan to spend 2022 after these dates wrap?

Kaylee: We’ve got big things in store this year.  We’re currently recording new music and have a big announcement coming in the later months.  Stay tuned…

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.