The Harmaleighs, an indie/rock duo from Nashville comprised of Haley Grant and Kaylee Jasperson, are set to release their sophomore album She Won’t Make Sense this summer on August 2. The album is a conceptual work that centers around lead singer Haley’s challenges and triumphs with mental health. TWLOHA had the opportunity to chat with Haley about her journey with depression and anxiety, and how music has played a role in her ability to process, cope, and find healing.
TWLOHA: For our readers who might not be familiar with you or The Harmaleighs, could you offer a brief introduction?
HALEY: We’re an “indie/rock” duo from Nashville, TN. I write the tunes, sing, and play guitar, and Kaylee sings and plays bass. We’ve been doing the damn thing for about six years now since we met back in college!
TWLOHA: What has your mental health journey looked like? What type of struggles have you faced?
HALEY: My journey has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been dealing with anxiety and depression for as far back as I can remember. I couldn’t put a name to the feeling until a little after college. Last year, my world definitely took a turn. Kaylee and I broke up after dating for six years—because of that I was living on my own for the first time and experiencing true independence. My friend group was adjusting to the sudden change, and I don’t want to say they “picked sides” but that’s kind of what needed to happen. Meanwhile, Kaylee and I were still working together while we were trying to navigate our romantic relationship into a friendship. I had never experienced more anxiety than during those few months. I wasn’t sleeping—which never helps anything—and received professional help for the first time in my life. The doctor put me on an array of drugs to help until things calmed down a bit. To be honest, it’s still a struggle though. I think it’s great to refer to it as a “journey.” There are so many ebbs and flows when it comes to mental health.
TWLOHA: How does The Harmaleighs’ upcoming album She Won’t Make Sense explore that journey?
HALEY: She Won’t Make Sense is the first conceptual album I’ve written and it is purely about my journey with my mental health. It explores each stage of the discovery process: how my anxiety took control, ending a relationship because I didn’t want my mental health to affect my partner’s, getting on medication and exploring how they made me feel, and finally, not understanding who I am. The songs were written in chronological order and in real time. Whereas the songs I’ve written prior to SWMS were written after I had time to reflect on the emotions or feelings I was experiencing. SWMS is so special to me because it was written in the moment.
TWLOHA: You’ve previously said that the song “Sorry, I’m Busy” represents the battle between “what you want and what your anxiety wants.” Can you tell us a little more about that song and how it relates to your experience with anxiety?
HALEY: “Sorry, I’m Busy” is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written. I feel like there is such a tug-of-war battle always happening between me and my anxiety. I can be a very social person (I’m a Leo!) but there are times when I’m about to go out or meet up with a friend and my anxiety just creeps its back in. I start questioning what the hell I’m going to talk about with or start stressing over the potential silence and worry about how to fill it. It also takes shape in other ways like cleaning. If I’m in a super anxious mood, my apartment will eventually be absolutely spotless, or empty because I feel the need to “purge.” Sometimes anxiety takes total control over my actions, like forcing me to say “sorry, I’m busy” versus going out with an old friend.
Here we go,
You’re holding my breath
Making me red
I wanna go to bed
Is it night yet?
Cancel the plans
Until they don’t understand
Ooo, I’m sorry, I am busy
Ooo, I’m sorry, please forgive me
I’m melting into my couch
I’m pulling my hair out
You won’t see me crying
I think that I’m dying
I’m biting my nails
I am in my own jail and
The windows are fogging
I might be sobbing
I’m sorry, I’m busy
TWLOHA: In what ways did you benefit from using music to explore your struggles with mental illness?
HALEY: I’ve said this many times to Kaylee but sometimes I don’t know how I am feeling or what I am thinking until I write it. Writing songs is pure magic. Songwriters have a window into this world and you have to be open and receptive in order to embody this idea that “comes to you.” I feel like this entire album stems from something much bigger than me. I think my purpose here was to write this album, and the ideas came to me when I needed them the most. And playing the songs live is one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done. Prior to this, I didn’t talk much about my mental health, even with friends. Saying it out loud and then singing about it feels like I am letting my demons go one by one.
TWLOHA: Beyond music and art, how do you address and care for your mental health?
HALEY: There are a few things I do on the daily that help quite a bit. I do yoga at a local studio every day. The community there is so welcoming and the physical activity keeps my mind at bay. I follow a vegan diet and try to eat as healthy as I can every day. In the mornings, I try to take at least 10 mins for myself to read a self-help book or watch an inspirational video on YouTube. Most importantly, I try to get eight hours of sleep every night. Lack of sleep, more than anything, can cause me to spiral.