MUSIC

Hayley Mary emerges from bleak Scotland and The Jezabels dripping with creativity

ON HER OWN FEET: Hayley Mary finally feels confident she's carved out a name for herself with her solo music.
ON HER OWN FEET: Hayley Mary finally feels confident she's carved out a name for herself with her solo music.

HAYLEY Mary had only arrived in Scotland from Australia several hours earlier in 2018 when she found herself dragging a suitcase along Edinburgh's cobblestone streets at 5am.

Operating on only a few hours sleep that she managed to snatch on the tour bus of Australian rock band DMA's - which features her partner Johnny Took - she wandered aimlessly to kill time before her Airbnb accommodation opened.

In that bleary moment inspiration came. A song appeared.

"I wrote Unholy Winter walking about the cobblestone streets freezing my arse off the first day I landed in Edinburgh," Mary recalls. "For some reason I found it a really inspiring place, I guess that's why Harry Potter was written there. It's very conducive to writing."

The period living in Edinburgh was difficult, but ultimately beneficial. After spending nearly a decade living the rock'n'roll lifestyle as the lead singer of Australian Music Prize-winning band The Jezabels, to be working as a barista serving coffee to disgruntled Scottish tradies was a steep comedown.

But it sparked creativity. During shifts Mary would jot down lyrics on napkins. They would eventually form the song The Drip, the opener and title track off her second EP. Unholy Winter also appears on the seven-track record.

"It wasn't until moving to Edinburgh and working in a cafe for about a month and all of the sudden I was like, 'I need to sort out my shit properly and start writing some demos', because I was just floating around and I didn't have a real job," she says.

TICKLED PINK: The Drip is Hayley Mary's second solo EP.

TICKLED PINK: The Drip is Hayley Mary's second solo EP.

"I was just surviving off whatever Jezabels money I had. I had to get back into the daily grind. Potentially it felt like I was giving up on music a bit. I felt really motivated to write and there was something inspiring working in this miserable cold place."

Mary released her first solo EP The Piss, The Perfume in 2020 and the British '60s garage rock vibes were in stark contrast to the anthemic new wave of The Jezabels.

The Drip further embraces Mary's love of British guitar bands and pushes the exuberance to 11, especially on the punkish Would You Throw A Diamond?

SUMMER DAYS: Hayley Mary, far left, in The Jezabels.

SUMMER DAYS: Hayley Mary, far left, in The Jezabels.

For Mary, The Drip is about being recognised as a solo artist and stepping out of The Jezabels' shadow. The Sydney four-piece have been on hiatus since early 2019.

"It took a long time for me to build this idea that I'm not Hayley from The Jezabels," she says. "I think people are starting to refer to me as my name now. Not to say I'm not that, but I'm not just that."

Becoming Hayley Mary, the solo artist, has also meant restarting at the bottom.

"There's shit you get used to when you're in a band at a certain level and when that's ripped away it can be confronting," she says.

"Then once you get used to it, you get back into the things that are satisfying about the early days of being in a band, like the work ethic of it and the daily grind, which I actually enjoy. I prefer the day to day of being a musician, rather than the hype and glory of it."

Hayley Mary's The Drip is out now.

This story Hayley Mary finds Scots inspiration to move beyond Jezabels first appeared on Newcastle Herald.