By disclosing secrets, thoughts, and feelings, we give the world pieces of ourselves. In this spirit, Gavin Haley imparts a piece of himself on every song. The Los Angeles-based singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist never holds back. Instead, his open-book approach laces organic and otherworldly pop soundscapes with catchy confessions and the kind of feelings you can only properly communicate out loud in conversation. Nearing 100 million total streams and earning acclaim from People, Flaunt, Billboard, American Songwriter, and many more, he reveals every side of himself on his 2022 project, i hate you, Don't Leave Me on Red Bull Records.
“I don’t want to be somebody who just makes sad songs or happy songs. I want to tell stories,” he exclaims. “I want my songs to aid listeners in whatever they’re going through. On one side, I’m this vulnerable kid who wants to be held. On the other side, I’m this passionate, energetic, and loud guy. It’s a very fine line between them.”
In a recent interview One Music PH had with Gavin, he admits himself as an introvert who relies a lot on music to express himself. “When I am on stage I feel like I don’t really have to filter myself, so yeah, definitely music is my biggest outlet.”
In the middle, Gavin has quietly asserted himself as a pop maverick with a sharp pen and an even sharper voice. His 2019 debut EP Long Game yielded the fan favorite anthem, “The Way I Am” feat. Ella Vos, amassing over 40 million streams. The 2020 follow-up Unfolding boasted “Tati” feat. Yung Pinch, which caught the attention of blink-182’s Travis Barker, who contributed a scorching remix. In its wake, People hailed him among “The Talented Emerging Artists Making Their Mark on the Musical Landscape.” He kicked off 2021 with the Bike Rides Alone EP. It arrived to critical applause with Variance claiming, “on the new EP, he showcases growth, as an artist and songwriter.”
At the same time, he assembled what would become i hate you, Don't Leave Me, working with co-producers and co-writers Skyler Mones (Dua Lipa, Kesha) and Nick Bailey (Demi Lovato, Marshmello, Machine Gun Kelly).
“Normally, my music is a reflection of things from the past,” he states. “It’s a lot easier to write about an event after it’s happened, and you can process it. This is the first body of work I’ve written as it was happening. It was part of my therapy. I’ve developed a new relationship with my writing. It’s more intentional.”
That comes through loud and clear on tracks like “Cliché.” Airy guitar wraps around head-nodding drums as his hip-hop-inspired cadence slides into the chantable chorus, “Is it cliché to say, I don’t know much about love, I don’t know much about trust?”
“It was a confident moment,” he proclaims. “Writing this record came from a place of getting close to people and inevitably making a mess out of it. I’m too emotional. I went in there and spoke about what was on my heart in confidence. I’m excited to perform it live.”
The hummable bassline and chilled-out production of “Body Language” underscore the ultimate night at home as he rhymes “homemade guac with the chips for my girl” and “indica anime flicks with my girl.” His falsetto flutters over the beat as it bobs and weaves.
“I’m somebody who would rather stay in with my person than go out,” he goes on. “It’s a sexy love song about first getting together with someone. You don’t have to do anything crazy to have a good time because everything’s new.”
While he's a professed homebody, he's not averse to touring new places. He recently made his way here in Southeast Asia to share his music and meet new talent as well. In his recent sojourn to Manila, he professed to take a liking to former Idol Philippines finalist FANA. "She does the craziest vocal runs!"
During the upbeat and undeniable festival-ready bop “Lottery,” he richly details what he would do, “if I won the lottery,” promising “the whole gang Ferraris” and to “build a better charity, if you’re hungry, then it’s free.”
"Heroes" showcases Gavin’s introspective thinking and personal storytelling, pulling inspiration from his childhood “superhero addiction”.
“I would collect action figures from the 70's and the 80's” he explains. “I really looked up to them. I wanted to be one of them. They’re like us, but they’re invincible. I found a lot of safety in the concept of superheroes, so I’m asking, ‘Are they really like me?’ Now, I’m in my mid-twenties. I’m still trying to figure this shit out. Every time I get comfortable in my own skin, the world throws twenty more problems at me. I’m asking bigger questions that I don’t really have answers to. The more I think I know, the less I realize I actually know.”
Then there’s “Forever,” where he intimately paints a picture of real love with brushstrokes of acoustic guitar and confessional lyrics such as, “I need you here when I’m older.”
On “Blue Hour,” emotion seeps through cracks in the vocals as tides of a relationship resemble the shifting colors of the blue hour.
“It’s a letter to someone saying, ‘I’m right in front of you. Why can’t you open up?’,” he ponders. “It’s really honest and describes exactly how I felt. On these songs, I’m saying exactly what I would say to someone in real life.”
In the end, he’s giving everyone Gavin Haley on i hate you, Don't Leave Me.
“When my listeners hear this, I want them to feel safe to be open,” he leaves off. “This body of work is a true reflection of my last year. I’m being the most transparent I’ve ever been on this project”.