Los Angeles based singer-songwriter Hayley Sales lets her voice takes centerstage with her latest single ”Never Before,” a classic romantic ballad cowritten with Legendary actress and songwriter Sharon Stone. The track takes it’s listeners on a time warp to the mighty times of classic Motown and 60s soul with a music cocktail of emotive bluesy melodies and a jazzy carefree soundscape.
Sales breaks open a new heart shattering artistic side with raw emotions spilling all over the new track. We were granted the opportunity to get to know more about Sales’ inspirational life story, her memorable experience collaborating with Sharon Stone and what her brand new artistic chapter will entail.
Sales has always been an old soul, growing up with a gravitational pull towards old Hollywood, a fierce fascination with legendary actresses such as Lucille Ball and Judy Garland in addition to theater productions. Sales narrates her life story to us, “Once upon a time, a girl grew up in the wrong time. Her friends and family lived in the 00s, but her mind was filled with the 30s and 40s. While most kids she knew were watching the Simpsons, she was watching “I Love Lucy” and listening to Judy Garland sing. She spent her days practicing Gershwin on the upright piano in her bedroom. She spent her nights reading Arthur Miller plays or rehearsing for one theatrical production or another.” Sales remembers in order to fit in, she set a side her first inspirations and hid her parts of herself, “However, as she progressed in her time-warped condition, she felt it’d be nice to…well, fit in. So, she changed her tune. She put away her dramatic nature, her unbridled romanticism, and her piano, learning guitar at the age of thirteen.”
Eventually Sales would pursue a music career, with a devastating twist that would end up inspiring her to pursue her 13 years old dreams, “She made some big waves and surfed with some rock-stars. Then she got jostled around by some labels and got swept away by the Universal rip tide. Marooned on some island, alone and bereft, there was just one thing she knew she had left. She picked up and dusted off her first inspirations. She engaged and embraced the time warp she was born in. Shortly thereafter she finished a new record. Her record. While awaiting the tides of pandemic to subside, she abides on the island, with fairy-tale campfires and music that warps time. To Be Continued…”
Sales describes her artistic sound as “Unabashedly dramatic. Romantic. Unbridled passion. A misfit in our times. Songs with melodies that cuddle you rather than grab you.” The vulnerability found in “Never Before” will have you feeling as if the song is giving you a bear hug meant to provide you a sense of comfort as you get lost in the excellent storytelling. Sales rememebers how the recording sessions for the track brought her to tears. “Once the words and the music came together, we tried to stay out of the way when it came to production. I laid down the piano and vocal live with my bassist, Darren Parris, at my dad’s recording studio on Vancouver Island (Canada). We tried to keep the performance as real and intimate as possible. My co-producer and dad, Richard Sales, added some glorious, subtle flourishes on electric guitar, but otherwise I just felt like more layers of instruments took away from the beauty of the tune. All the while, I kept hearing this luscious presence of strings and how they could meld around the melody. But I had absolutely no idea how to make it happen…until I met Carl Marsh, a genius string arranger with an arsenal of cupid’s romance. I shared the tune with him and attempted to describe what I was hearing, albeit terribly. He came back with the arrangement later that week. It was even better than I could ever have imagined.”
Sales would get the opportunity of a lifetime to add the orchestra to the track. “Sometime later I gathered up the funding to bring his incredible arrangement to life. We recorded the orchestra at Oceanway Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. As the orchestra performed his gorgeous arrangement, the old walls of the incredible church began to resonate, and I couldn’t help but cry. Sitting behind the mixing board and hearing my song come to life in a way I had only dreamed…It was truly one of the most memorable moments in my life. After we finished, I handed the tune over to my mixer, Michael Brauer, who added his famous magic touch. The tune is essentially live. We didn’t touch anything after the strings.”
Working with Sharon Stone, Sales learned a lot about herself as a songwriter, Stone guided Sales to share her hidden vulnerability side she had suppressed when she was younger. “She dove into my own vulnerability, my own romantic notions and brought out something entirely new. In some ways, she was so comfortable into her own skin, she helped me settle into mine. I just loved the whole experience of writing with her. Writing the song with Sharon was an incredible tipping point for me artistically and for my career.” Sales looked at her own artistic reflection, having no choice to face what life’s trials and tribulations have done to her unique artistry. “Up until that point, I’d hidden my most authentic self. Happened around the time I signed with Universal as a teen and it spiraled from there. Once I was in, I didn’t have much wiggle room to change. Before beginning my third record, I knew I wanted to go a different direction artistically. I shared some of my other tunes, the tunes that are much more like what you are hearing now and will hear on my next record. I was dropped instantly. It was too much of a risk.” When the opportunity a rose of working with Stone, Sales recalls the life examining questions about songwriting, opening up a fresh perspective on how to approach telling stories you are passionate about.”
The unexpected epiphany Sales had during the songwriting sessions, opened up a can of worms, realizing she hadn’t been singing music that came from the inner depths of heart due to fear. “It was right around then that I met Sharon and wrote with her. I remember her asking me…what song would you sing if I knew it might be your last and why? Who are you, really at your core? Who doesn’t the world see? Let’s sing it… I realized, I hadn’t been making the music I needed to make. I wasn’t singing the music my heart was aching to sing. I had been creating out of a fear of rejection or not being accepted…not truly from the deepest part of the heart. What she said that day truly shifted the trajectory of my life.”
Not longer letting fear dictate the music she made, Sales re-examined her past, diving into the core of what caused her to silence her own heart. “Now only did I dusted off all the dusty, abandoned gems I’d stowed away as a teen. Really took some time to get over my fears of not being enough. And went back into the studio. From that moment on, I sang the songs I needed to sing and I recorded the music that moved me and did it simply because there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Music is everything to me. It has been since the beginning. You know, in some ways it’s much more terrifying this way. Apathy is easy. Writing a song is easy. But writing and releasing a song that exposes your deepest self is not. And not because of the exposure all of you, but because, if people don’t like it, it’s personally.”
Looking back Sales concludes she didn’t embrace herself fully because she longed to fit in with others, “I think I’d been hiding behind a veil. I’d been a bit of an outsider as a kid. I put away my love of romance and drama, hid my inability to fit into a box, and it felt safer. In many ways, I’d always been able to say to myself “well, I haven’t really shown them all my cards yet” whenever I released music. But now…I’m showing all my cards. This is it. This is me. For better or worse. And Sharon had a lot to do with me having the courage to do it.”
The story of liberating one’s true self and using your voice without restrictions is felt with Sales’ nostalgic filled vocals all over the new song. “Never Before” takes you on a sentimental journey or how Sales describes it, “a moment out of time.” The world has no limits for Sales as she prepares for a year full of surprises with new music, “Earlier in the year, we finished up RICOCHET, the first record I’ll legally be allowed to release in years. Over the next year, we will be rolling out the tunes one at a time and hoping that a couple people out there are moved to listen. I believe the next release will come in July, and I can’t wait. Honestly, I’m just so excited to be able to release music I can’t contain myself. After years of being silenced, I’ve somehow managed to wrangle that sea witch into giving me back my voice and I feel elated. Can’t wait to get back on stage. Hopefully there will be touring, but we shall see how the year unfolds! Otherwise, I’ll be busy with a couple incredibly exciting acting projects I can’t talk about yet, but they’re dreams coming true.“
Watch the music video for “Never Before” below:
Photo Courtesy of Mora May Agency