At 25 years old, Hunter Hayes has already won a Country Music Award, been nominated for several Grammy awards and had a double platinum album. Now, he is ready to start over as he prepares to release a new album with a refreshing sound. The Daily Texan caught up with Hayes ahead of his headlining performance at the Forty Acres Fest about his new chapter of music.
Daily Texan: You recently released the music video for “Yesterday’s Song,” can you tell me about the inspiration behind it?
Hunter Hayes: It is not really like any other video I have ever done. It was a wild imagination approach to the meaning behind “Yesterday’s Song.” It was funny because I was worried that it wouldn’t be clear enough but I have already seen fans interpreting it and putting their own words on what it means to them, how they see it, and as usual they know me better than I know myself. It really speaks a lot about leaving the past behind. I think the whole concept behind mirrors is all about moving on and making sure that you always know that there is joy ahead, there is always something else. I wanted my fans to get that message and feel that because we all go through moments in our life when we feel stuck, I know for me, working on this record, I have had those moments. I wanted to say that loud and clear, that those moments aren’t what define me.
DT: Can you tell me a little about the challenges that you have faced?
HH: It is just all kinds of stuff.My debut record was created with such an awesome sort of cluelessness, and it was based on just everybody in the business letting me be myself. I was making a lot of demos by myself, I don’t think it is the most efficient way to do it for sure, and I love collaboration, so it was challenging. It is such an injustice to sit here in the studio and say we need another “Wanted” or another “Crazy.” Those things happen because they happen, you can’t make music that way, you end up just repeating yourself. While that might work in some cases, it’s not what really drives the arts. That is not what makes sincere music and that is not how you have a conversation. There are things that change and modify your thinking, to where it is harder to think that way, but I think that is the healthiest place to come from, to always feel like this is my first day.
DT: As you are writing your new music, what are your biggest inspirations for your new album?
HH: Just life I guess. Any records I have come across, tons of stuff. I had a songwriter that I wrote with in Nashville that said ‘what do you listen to’ and I gave him a list of like three things and he said ‘oh, well these things were influenced by...’ and introduced me to the artists that influenced the artists that influenced me, and (he) really encouraged me.
DT: What is your favorite part about writing music?
HH: Days like when we wrote “Amen.” It was such a magical time because I was really driven to say something. I knew I still had something to say, and I actually still do right now which is why the record is not out yet. I spent all month searching for the songs and “Amen” came on a day where it was so easy. “Amen” kind of came to life like this sort of love letter, kind of as a testimony. I remember the feeling of just staying here, working on the demo, and leaving late and feeling really good about the song, and just loving the song and saying ‘God, I hope the team loves this as much as I do,’ because the song
really means a lot to me.
DT: What message would you like to send to college students and youth right now?
HH: Probably the same message I would want myself to hear even two years ago. When “Wanted” came out, when “Crazy” came out, I had just turned 21. Now, being 25 and kind of having been through all the versions of being an artist, the really joyous times and lowest lows, living that is like a retreat I guess. I know that I am stronger and I knew that I would be, but it is kind of hard to believe at the beginning. Perspective is the key to happiness I think, or one of the keys to happiness for me, just looking at the life ahead of you as just an endless road. Whatever the daunting task of the day is, it becomes so much easier to bear. There is nothing too big, nothing too great. I believe prayer is powerful and you have to make your story. Everybody tells you to be yourself, but I think the world expect you to fall in certain categories, and stand on a line of some kind, but we are all individuals for a reason, and we are all going to have our own version of whatever story we seek.
DT: What can we expect to see in the new album?
HH: Hopefully way sooner than I am even anticipating. But, this year is the year for this record to start coming out. I think the exciting thing about this record is it will happen quicker than I anticipate it and it will happen at a different pace. It won’t be just ‘here is the whole thing,’ it will be more of an ongoing, continuous conversation because that is how the music is created, and I love that idea.