MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
What motivated you to start creating music? What age did you begin?
John Haesemeyer: Thanks I’ve discovered some cool artists through you guys, so happy to be here, too. I started writing poetry while I was still in grade school as a way of dealing with a troubled family life. In middle school, my brother taught me to play guitar and I’ve been writing music ever since. I guess for me its always been an introspective, therapeutic thing.
MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the musician you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
John Haesemeyer: Oh definitely the singer-songwriters of the 1970s. Neil Young, James Taylor, CSNY, Dylan that whole group. Also, I listened to a lot of classic rock growing up, so Beatles, Stones, Van Morrison, Pink Floyd. Another big influence was church music. I sang in two audition choirs all throughout middle school and high school. That was where I received some formal music training – harmony, breathing, theory etc. Church music also seeks to make a deep spiritual connection – which is something I try to do.. But if you ask me who is the single artist who had the most most impact on me, it was Neil Young. Neil is just so remarkably vulnerable and honest. Couple that with great songwriting and musicality, and you get some amazing music. I also love the imperfection of his voice, something I always think about when deciding how to sing a song.
MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a musician? Any particular message you wish to send?
John Haesemeyer: This may seem a little lofty but really I want to help people emotionally through the themes of loss, love, and hope in their lives – the same way the singer-songwriters of the 70s helped me. The more substance my songs have, the more successful I will be. So I guess, my message is in the lyrics and music of my songs. Also, the more people that hear my music, the more I will achieve. Obviously, the more people introduce my music to their friends, the more listeners I will get in front of.
MuzicNotez: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
John Haesemeyer: Bruce Springsteen at Hill Hall in Ann Arbor on the University of Michigan campus. It was just Bruce with an acoustic guitar on a stool in a medium-sized hall. Very intimate. The idea of story-telling really clicked for me when I saw that show. I also was amazed at the overtones he got in that hall. I thought maybe he had a keyboardist in the back playing some light pads. Recently, I was talking to a sound engineer here in SF about that concert, and she told me that Hill Hall is known for its amazing acoustics, so I guess it was just the space that made it sound so good..
MuzicNotez: You’re releasing your second studio album ‘Three Mirrors’ on September 23rd, how does this album differ from your debut album ‘Come Along Quickly’?
John Haesemeyer: Well we focused on doing only 7 songs, 4 of which are more highly produced. Sound-wise its more layered; there’s more depth. In terms of composition, the songs have more complex melodies and harmonies, although now that I think of it, there is one song that is mostly just two chords that focuses on the lyrics (“Back to College”) which I wrote long ago and finally got around to recording. We also have a country duet on the record – my first time writing a duet (“Vancouvers Shore”).
MuzicNotez: You worked with 20+ professional musicians including a former member of Prince in the studio creating this album, what has that recording experience been like?
John Haesemeyer: My producer [Nahuell Bronzini] and I always like to bite off more than we can chew. On this record, during preproduction, there was a song (“Think I’m Going Down”) that we decided needed a gospel choir. There was no denying it. The only problem was neither of us had any idea where to find one! I sent out a ton of emails through my music network and through a couple referrals got introduced to Levi Seacer (former guitarist of Prince) who listened to the song and took on the task of arranging and producing the singers. That was a cool experience – working with a veteran from the big leagues. Not only does Levi have a great musical mind but he also told great stories, and gave me a lot of good advice about music. Many of the musicians who play on the record are alums of the SF Conservatory of Music, so it’s great to work with really smart musicians who have a classical mindset. As a self-taught guitarist, I’m always amazed at their level of mastery of their instruments.
MuzicNotez: What was your motivation when writing ‘Three Mirrors’?
John Haesemeyer: “Three Mirrors” [the title track of the record] is about moving on with your life. I ended a 7-year relationship a couple years ago, so that song was really about processing what happened and looking forward. The lines “air in my tire / fresh window wipers” is about being ready to get back on the road. The line, “my three mirrors are clean” is really about making peace with the past.
MuzicNotez: You have a music video for your single ‘Two Of Me’ to be released soon, I know this will be quite the production, what can you tell us about it?
John Haesemeyer: Well it keeps getting delayed, haha, but when it comes out, it will be pretty cool. It uses a lot of computer graphics in a tasteful way to set up a virtual room with picture frames and a stairway that connects with the imagery of the song. Have really enjoyed working with the director, Vincent Pascoe, a rising star who lives in LA.
MuzicNotez: You’re having an album release party on September 20th, what do you have planned for that?
John Haesemeyer: Yeah, I have to run to rehearsal after this interview. Totally psyched! The concert is part of series of shows hosted by one of the big studios hear in SF, Coast Recorders where Neil Young, REM and others have recorded, which I think is totally cool. I will be backed by an 8-piece band, including a string trio (violin, viola, cello) and upright bass. Going to have a great organic, full sound. We will do most of the songs from the new record, some from my past record, and a few songs that have never been recorded. We will also have a camera crew there, so people can look for a DVD of the concert (and clips on YouTube) later this year..
MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
John Haesemeyer: I would say simply, thanks to everyone who has been listening and supporting my music. The feedback I get from folks both online and at shows is really why I make music, so thanks for taking the time from your busy lives to spend time listening to my music, contemplating its meaning, and engaging with me and others about it! I’m very grateful.