At The Bar with The Jezabels Lead Singer Hayley Mary on a Solo Journey

The Jezabels front woman Hayley Mary enters her solo era as a singer/songwriter, emerging with a dark pop hit One Last Drag. Her poetic sway is grounded in a smokey haze of self-reflection, but for all its demons, she’s seizing euphoria via a new wave musical optimism.

Hayley Mary talks to us for our At The Bar series. Together with her husband Johnny Took of DMA’s fame – they run Small Talk Music – situated about Bar Andino in Brunswick and where many musicians head to write, and go downstairs for a knock-off reward.

MY CITY

Melbourne for the weather. I like a big city, and I dislike humidity.

FAVOURITE FOOD MEMORY

Johnny, Vince and Sam’s Italian Ristorante, Carlton. It’s world class up-market yet home-cooked style Italian food with a vibe like your nana’s place in the 90s but fancy, also decently priced.

FAVORITE BAR

Bar Andino, Brunswick. I work in the Small Time music studios above the bar and I’m partial to a margarita or whatever the cocktail special is on the awesome rooftop after a writing or recording session (plus the empanadas, guacamole and ceviche are divine if you’re hungry).

DRINK THAT DESCRIBES YOU

Blood Orange Margarita in summer, Negroni in winter – fresh, bitter and strong.

BEST HANGOVER CURE

Just don’t drink! But if you must; the beef brisket pho from Tia Con, Brunswick plus spring rolls plus can of coke plus Netflix plus do-not-disturb on your phone.

BEST INTERSTATE BAR

Janglin’ Jacks for speak-easy whisky bar vibes and great food, Big Poppa’s Oxford St Sydney and Bar Roma, Kings Cross for late night Italian and drinks. Vinnies Dive Bar, Gold Coast for gritty punk rock bar with live music.

FAVOURITE WINE

If I’m not drinking – which I have frequent stints of doing – I like NON wine. If I am drinking, I’m going to be honest, my family are cheap cask people. My grandfather rates De Bortoli. I err toward a pinot noir if it’s going, I don’t mind if it comes from a sack.

NEXT DESTINATION

Sydney – it’s a second home to me.

HOW DID YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND, JOHNNY TOOK OF DMA’S GET INVOLVED WITH THE SMALL TALK GROUP 

My husband Johnny was introduced to Small Time just before covid. Steve Hibberd, the owner, is an entrepreneur who wanted to support the local music scene. He had a bar with KEXP-style live streaming facilities and was putting on a few vibey sessions with various artists when the pandemic hit. During those hard times we kept going to the bar to support them, and ended up chatting with Steve about how to evolve the space to survive the upheaval. That’s when Small Time Music was born. It has a few writing rooms and a recording studio upstairs that local and interstate musicians and podcasters use. What artists seem to love about it is that it’s not sterile above a cool bar with great food and drinks right in the heart of Brunswick. We just got involved because we love it too and see the potential for an evolving business model that can serve the music community.

HOW OFTEN DO YOU VISIT BAR ANDINO DOWNSTAIRS

We go a few times a week. There is a rooftop upstairs where we like to go when the weather is permitting. But if not, we go downstairs or out the front. Bar Andino is an awesome empanada and Chilean food bar and the bar owner, Nelson is a legend.

TELL US ABOUT THE WRITING ROOM UPSTAIRS – WHO HAS COME THROUGH SO FAR

We’ve had Confidence Man, Cub Sport, Memphis K, Styles Fuego and a bunch of others. DMA’S have a permanent space there, where a chunk of their last record was written. And my upcoming music has been written there too. We’ve also hosted larger scale writing workshops with Mushroom Publishing and have some APRA songwriting sessions booked which is really exciting for the space.

RESIDENCIES COMING IN AUGUST – WHAT CAN YOU TELL US

I had this idea of a stripped-back ‘inspirations sessions’ where I play a mix of originals and covers of songs that were inspirational to my songwriting and tell some of the stories behind them. We will try this out every Wednesday in August at Bar Andino, Small Time. It will be FREE ENTRY, “tip-the-musician” style, like in Nashville. I’d like to guinea-pig the idea myself and then see if we can get some other artists in to do it down the track, as I love the idea of human songwriters consciously paying homage to the other songwriters who shaped them.

 

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