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Up-and-coming UK musician Grace Hayhurst is our guest on this episode of the Progtalks. We discuss her recently released EP “Existence is Temporary”, and her plans for an upcoming future debut album. We also talk about her background in classical music, the work she does with her media outlet “Proghurst” and her love of progressive music in general.

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Rune: Welcome back to the Progtalks once again, it’s me, Uncle Prog. And today I’m happy because I have a young UK musician which I’ve been listening to a lot to her recent release over the last month. And it’s Grace Hayhurst! Good to see you, Grace. How are you?

Grace: Hey. Thanks, good to see you too

Rune: Yeah, like I mentioned, I’ve been listening to a ton to your EP “Existence is Temporary” over the last month. ,So now that you have a little bit of hindsight on it, how has the response been have you had any feedback? How do you feel about it?

Grace: Yeah. Great. Ready? Good. It’s my first kind of… attempt at trying to release music properly. I’ve like done a couple of little random singles and in the past, but this has been like, it’s like, right. You know, I’m going to do it properly. I’m going to go through everything. You know, I’m going to try and promote it, I’m gonna, you know, do music videos. I’m going to get it mixed by someone that knows what they’re doing.

And it’s been great. It’s been really enjoyable to go through that whole process. Lots of learning, which I think it’s good and yeah, it was one response has been great. It’s More than I would have imagined, you know, I was expecting maybe like a couple of hundreds, you know, couple of hundred plays on YouTube and then kind of died down, but now we’re kind of hanging with thousands and it’s like, this is, this is a bit surreal.

Yeah. Lots of positive feedback. People have been enjoying it, which is, which is great. It’s definitely always a worry as a solo musician because you’ve not got anyone to bounce off and be like, it’s this, this, this, any good it’s like, is this, is this all right? Is this okay? Or is this desire to have that kind of reassurance that one day the people are liking it.

Rune: Yeah, I can imagine. And you touched on something that I wanted to ask you about. So I’m just going to move on to that because you were talking about, you know, all that stuff that you are doing with videos, for the promotion, everything, and, and, you know with the social media part of it and, and, you know, marketing your own stuff, you know, so I was, I was wondering, you know, what was your strategy to try and push that music out there. And what are the challenges do you feel to, to being heard or recognized as an individual artist?

Grace: I think I’ve seen over the years through friends that musicians I’ve seen them put out like, you know, 20, 30 minute EP on SoundCloud. And then just never really say anything about it. And you’ve got to like, ask me, like, have you done anything recently?

And I’m like, oh, I did this thing. That’s great. But they’re just not very good at talking about it. So I’ve tried to, yeah, just make sure I’m like talking to as many people as possible. That are interested, of course, you know about the EP and about what it’s about. And part of that’s come with just the people I’ve worked with. You know, I’ve, I’ve worked with Gareth from Slice the Cake. I’ve worked with Shelby from Kyros, on some of the video stuff. So there’s a whole, like an ecosystem of people behind the scenes in the, in the scene, I guess, who are, you know, a few rungs up the ladder above me that already have some ridiculously good music out there. And it’s kind of been fun working with those people and kind of… just pulling myself into the scene and introducing myself to people. And I think that’s been very important that kind of networking side of things. You know, you’re particularly saying, well I’ve been working with that in Invicta Media. I see Cheri behind that has helped with all the promotion PR you know, she put together a great press park and was like sending me out to these places.

And I’m like, however you know half these websites? But you know, people are coming back and saying, oh, this is great. And, you know, putting out reviews and asking for interviews and lots of stuff and so. It’s just, yeah, it’s kicked off. Yeah, I’m flattered.

Rune: Yeah. Well, I think you, I see your name, like showing up a lot of places, you know, in different, you know, all across from Discord, from Reddit, from, you know, all kinds of different places and You are sort of doing a good job on that because you know, someone like me, who, who sort of looks for new music all the time, I had no problem in finding your stuff while on the other hand, there was another young UK musician that I played on my latest radio show and that I just found like out of nowhere and I contacted him and I was like, you know, would you mind sending me some, promo for your album? And I’d love to play it on the radio. And the guy was like, what’s the promo? What do you need? So then I guess, you know, it’s, it’s, it can be difficult. And, and would you say a little bit about the different platforms you’ve been using and, and, and what do you find valuable? And maybe some of them are not so valuable, I don’t know…

Grace: sure. Yeah. So I’ve tried a bunch of different avenues and some of it’s been based on my work in the podcast industry. Cause I used to work for a podcast hosting platform for a few years. Yeah. So partly on the recording side. And so I worked with like a bunch of UK comedians to record a lot of their podcasts and (unintelligible) and also in the technical side of it. And just kind of been a little bit all over the place. Cause it’s quite small, small little house and seeing basically like the most important thing is like cross-collaboration and like just points for the people that are doing similar things. And that’s kind of. Yeah, you’ve got to find out where people are. The one that listened to the music. That is my problem for like the longest time, you know, I’ve been going into prog shows for years. I’ve got, I think. Here behind, the big book of ticket stamps and all sorts of stuff. This is one of my “lock-down” projects to keep it up to date. And yeah, there’s just all sorts of stuff in there. And he got Devin Townsend and everything, and I was, I was going to all these shows. I’m like, there’s all these people out there that love this music.. where are they?

Rune: Exactly

Grace: I’ve got no idea. And just trying to find those people is a headache in itself. You know, I know people that have had success through like joining Facebook groups. I know there’s a lot of different like Facebook pages and stuff like that. And also Reddit as a handful of little specific. Niche genre pages for like sludge metal, thrash metal, prog metal, you know, all the different kind of places. And then discord has been huge. I think for me the last year it was something I was on the platform like five, six years ago with a few mates. And I was like, oh, if I put like.. If I’m spending more time into this like I’m just going to be glued to my computer. I’m not going to do anything else. I’m going to stop seeing people.

And I was like, no, I’m not going to do that. I’m going to go and leave the digital life behind a little bit. And then the pandemic happened and everything shut down. And so I was like, well, maybe I’ll revisit the idea then. And yeah, I ended up just chatting to people on there and there’s a whole host of different places and communities, you know, specific for bands, specific genres you know, the “Images and Words” prog Discord has opened up a big run of people. And it, I just wouldn’t, you know, without that, I probably wouldn’t be here. You know, not only was it incredibly motivated and being around a bunch of hard-working musicians, but also, you know, the people that have been incredibly helpful as well.

So like there was three that I found Gareth who mixed the EP and Jonas mastered it and Shelby help with video stuff and Cheri that help with the PR and just, you know, and all of these different people along the way that, you know, you post a demo and be like “so good” and get that feedback. So this is like just a whole…. these people exist and they’re out loud. You just gotta find them.

Rune: Yeah. I, I agree because you know, it can be easy to feel like you’re in a, like a vacuum without ever anything going on around, but then once you reach out and I feel like Discord is something that, of course originally was more or less like a gaming platform, I guess, but, but it has exploded into any, every other like hobbies and facets of… yeah, both professional and not so. I think that’s, that’s interesting. I found that the “Images and Words – Discord” very, very, very active and very interesting, you know.

Let’s go over to talk a little bit about the EP because of course, I read that it, it says that is a musical representation of an existential crisis that you experienced. So could you tell me a little bit about the music on the EP? Overarching team or a concept or what you would call it?

Grace: Yeah, no, absolutely. So kind of, I think time’s not real anymore, you know, I’ve been inside for two years, but yeah, I think it was 2018 around I thought to kind of struggle a little bit and I was like, Like, what is this? What am I? Like? What what’s, what’s going on? Like, why does anything matter? Does it matter if my parents die? We’ll know, they’re just like weird fleshy objects of cells. And like, they’re not, nothing’s going to exist in a thousand years and… I don’t think about too much. Like I did and that kind of. Yeah, something on a weird spiral of trying to work out like… just what on earth am I doing? Still, I don’t know (Laughs) That’s what I did want to encapsulate some of that into a physical piece of art, because I think one of the most important things for me as being remembered, after I die, to get, you know, nice and cheery… and, you know, from a young age, you know, I’ve always been in the music stuff., I’ve been playing piano and French Horn since five, six and doing all sorts of orchestral stuff and pause and, you know, thinking about what, you know, we’re playing all this music, people that are a long, long gone, you know, playing Rachmaninoff or Gershwin, you know, you go even further back, you know, you get Bach, Beethoven all these beautiful music, piano, music, and you think, oh, That’s still.. remember this is 500, 600 years later, you know, that’s crazy. How do I do that? You know, I don’t want to be forgotten. I don’t want to, I don’t want to disappear into the ethers of time, you know, maybe at least for 10, 20 years after I’d die it’d be nice if people still remember me (Laughs).

So yeah, basically it just putting together this EP and try and concentrate some of those thoughts and ideas and try and link together, all the different themes and all the different related outputs to that. So when would that be like the trailers I put out… or the music video or the artwork itself? You know, I’ll grab it, you know, a bunch of bird in the form of a face and it’s it, you know, a flock of birds, you know, they are never in the same position for a very long time, that whole, you know, the concept of me existing as temporary.

And it’s like, It’s just, there’s a lot of headaches that came around that and a lot of, kind of derealization and a bit of just like, what is, you know, what is this what’s going on? But yeah, it feels good to just kind of. Have it as a thing and be like my thoughts and put it in a box and it’s gone and I don’t ever think about it ever again. And that’s how it works.

Rune: I wonder then, you know, it’s, it’s interesting. What you say, I wonder is it was the, the, sort of the job of putting this into something almost like physical and sort of… is that kart was, was that like a katharsis? This is for you to like, To finally put this into something and then, you know, I don’t know there are, so there are, so when you start thinking about philosophical, stuff like that, you know, who am I, where am I going? Am I going to be remembered? Is it’s all like, very much up in the air. Did this help to like, focus it?.

Grace: Yeah. Yeah, I think so. And it’s, yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s kind of interesting how the whole thing developed as well. Cause you know, the music started off with me playing around on guitar. You know, in your DSP had started launching all the amps ends and they sound great.

And I was like, I can like record guitar at home and like not have to have an expensive amp and irritate anyone on living with this is great. And you kind of start there. And I was like, well, hang on, I can turn this into this. And you know, we can start to build this theme and yeah. Just putting it into something physical as well. I think it’s really cool. I mean, I, I collect CDs. I, I mean, even just looking at my desk now there’s piles of stuff. Like it’s not even, because I’ve got a big cupboard upstairs, which is where I keep most of them that’s full at the moment. So my desk is just like, Covered in. And it’s, it’s, it’s great.

It’s nice. I really love as well, but you know, people in America, people in Canada, people all over Europe and it’s like, This thing, like exists in multiple continents now and probably more places than I’ve visited in my life. And like, that’s kind of weird. So I think our… it’s in people’s homes, people are listening to and it’s yeah, it’s just surreal. It was really cool.

Rune: Yeah. You know, the music you have created for the EP is, is instrumental really, but, but there are samples or spoken words or that help guide the listener a little bit or help, like, set the mood or whatever. Can you tell me a little bit about those elements? Also I have to ask where we ever attempted to add vocals to ask a vocalist?

Grace: So I was hugely inspired by Toska for this project. Sadly, they broke up about a couple weeks ago. I, you know, Rabea (Massaad) was one of the reasons I went from: “I quite like to learn guitar” to “I will learn guitar” and put in a lot of hours and really go for it. And I was kind of, I didn’t necessarily want to emulate that sound, but I just loved how Toska was its own thing and it kind of didn’t need vocals.

I, I can’t think I’m not a singer. I don’t think this material I’m starting on now, you know, I’m writing, full-length album with a couple of other musicians and sounds and a new EP material, essentially. And I’m trying to throw the vocals on the side. Ahhh I hate the sound of my own voice, you know? And it’s one of the things growing up. I never really had any training in. And so I was really focused on the orchestral stuff. I never joined any choirs. You know, doing French horn. I was playing a lot of symphonies and cuts upon stuff. And so the piano works. So it’s a whole different wild and skillset that. I definitely want to explore and want to try and get in that down in the future.

But when it came to this release, I was just like, no, not gonna happen. So the vocals are in that are from a friend of mine, Jonah Robertson, who is also the vocalist of Empire Bathtub with like a weird spooky, I don’t know, alien comedy concert series…

Rune: Yeah, we have, we have the review, we have the review of their outlast album and you know, I’ve been, I was listening to it. It’s, it’s quite a, I don’t know how to put it. It’s entertaining. It’s crazy. It’s just like very, very, very, very interesting listen. Yeah.

Grace: Yeah. It’s very silly, I love it. But he has, he has ridiculous vocals. So, yeah. I was like, Hey, you want to do this voice over? “It’s fine. Yeah. Sure”. So I wrote out the words and lyrics and stuff, trying to conceptualize a bit of stuff in my head. And that was where that came from. And again, I was kind of thinking, well, I’ll have other bands done this and you kind of have these wavering split wide sections, you know, like Mike Portnoy’s “Repentance” or Dream Theater’s “Repentance” while you’ve got all of the vocalist talking about they, their experiences with addiction and alcoholism, you know, that’s a very moving part of that whole, you know, the Twelve- Step Suite and the album as well.

I was like, well, this is cool thing. Cause it’s all on the, on the last track that was the final. I was like, well, wouldn’t it be great if I got a bunch of my friends on this as well, it’s kind of including people that aren’t necessarily musicians or that some of them are And just kind of getting them involved and it’s like, oh yeah, I mean, Steve’s on my album.

It’s like, you know what I mean, Steven hung out on pop for years and just like chat nonsense. And it’s like, yeah, he’s on the album. It’s cool.

Rune: I liked that. I liked that that take, and it also sort of reminds me a little bit of you know, Pain of Salvation – BE, where they had people call in and, you know, from all over the world. People were talking about things and it all turned out, you know, very touching piece of music. And so I think this, this, these EP doesn’t need vocals in the traditional sense, but there is like a sort of a guiding thing there with the, with the spoken word and the little samples and everything to help you, you know.

Let’s, let’s move from, from, you know, the, the theme and the concept of it, to, to the music. You know, one of the traits of progressive music is of course, the mixing of styles and genres, and for you that involves. I feel like a little bit of like sludge groove, almost like doomy parts at times into your personal brand of progressive music. Would you talk a little bit about the influences that goes into your music and where they come from?

Grace: Yeah, sure. So it’s, it’s a real mix of stuff. We could let us do a lot of music as I’ve recently demonstrated. I mean, yeah. All the way from, you know, modern bands, like Haken to going further back, like Rick Wakeman. And I mean, you can even kind of just about see my wall, I’ve got Haken, Anderson – Rabin – Wakeman and Scar Symmetry as well I quite love. I’ve got a Mike Portnoy drumstick, and that’s ..that’s one… That’s pretty hard to point. Okay. That one’s Anathema. And just this whole like weird blend of stuff, but yeah, the keyboard side, again, I’ve been playing all sorts of stuff for years. I’ve got bits of sheet music from Genesis and Yes and Rush, which I’d always set in play different arrangements… bits of Steven Wilson as well.

And yeah, a lot of the sound design staff really came from like Haken – Affinity and Haken – Vector. The whole keys and synths and stuff. You know, I remember hearing affinity when it came out. And I was like, whoa, like this crazy, there’s so much happening here. So many little nuances, so many little bits of design, little slushy bits. And that was really interesting and I have pulled in some of that…

Rune: Yeah. So you already mentioned, you know, that you have quite a lot of talented people involved on the EP. So would you, would you mind running me through them and you know, letting me know what they contributed to, to the, to the album, some of them, at least.

Grace: Yeah. All right. I’m going to (laughs) Read up the list

Rune: Nobody forgotten that way, right?

Grace: Fair.. Well… Written and Performed by Grace. Yeah, that was me. I was on that

Rune: That’s you, yeah!

Grace: Acoustic Guitar by Paul Hanness. So at the end of the last track, as a tiny little acoustic guitar section, and I did originally write and play that myself, that the the acoustic guitar I’ve got sounds awful. Absolutely terrible. It’s so it’s like 30 years old. The tuning pegs keep falling out. It doesn’t stay in tune, like pretty sure they gave me like tetanus.

So I got, I got him to record it, and he’s been my guitar teacher for a few years. This is cool having him on that. Drums by Andrew Scott. So I am not a drummer. Unfortunately. I may have been able to do the keys, the bass guitar. I can’t play drums. So I got Andrew Scott involved and it’s kind of a bit of a story that, because originally it was a Gareth recommending me, this guy called Andrew Scott, who drummed for a Slice the Cake, I think a little bit last year. and has done some other stuff, is drumming I think on some other stuff Gareth is working on. And I was like, great. I’ll take that recommendation. Andrew Scott, Google: Andrew Scott session drummer. First Result. Andre Scott – Drums. Great. Bringing click, click, click, email, set it going. Great. And a couple of weeks later, I told Gareth: “yeah, I’m using Andrew. The guy you recommended like, you know, I’ve got some things written, is coming out great.” And Gareth is like “Oh cool yeah, I need to talk to Andrew”. So and Gareth was like, “Grace, who have you been talking to?

I was like, what?, I’ve just been to Andrew he’s ever out of here. That’s what I was going on. And I was like.. I’ve got like drums tracked but turns out in Canada, there was another session drummer called Andrew Scott. (laughs)

Rune: I see.

Grace: So think it’s great, you know, no qualm, you know, came up with some really good stuff. Sounds great. Recorded it all. Well it’s just Andrew Scott .

Rune: Honestly I’m glad you mentioned that now because I was also like completely sure that, you know, this is the guy from Slice the Cake and, you know, There’s the same, same drummer as that has the Leviathan Owl solo project as well. That’s the guy you thought you were talking to, right, but this is another Andrew Scott. Well, he did a great job on the album.

Grace: Yeah, no, he is a great guy. It’s just a, as long as it’s funny things as that has gone on. And you obviously Gareth came in and to mix things. So he’s the vocalists in Slice the Cake, and then he also mixed Azure album this year “Of Brine And Angel’s Beaks”. So it sounds great.

Rune: They always do a fantastic job with whatever they’re involved in.

Grace: Yeah. And then we have Jonas coming in, doing mastering as well, who is another member of Slice the Cake, so, they’ve called it double teaming thing going on. Album artwork was done by Anja all that stuff in the back and everything. I did some demo while work, and it’s one of those things where I was like, how hard could it be?. (laughs)

I’m very glad I didn’t end up using that. Cause it was awful. And I basically sent my sketches over to Anja and I was like, you might do this, but like better. And she did and it’s great. And that’s somebody I found through the images and words server as well, it’s eh, someone’s fiance that was like up for doing stuff, and I was like, sure.

Rune: Yeah, that artwork is really, really beautiful. And it, and it’s something that sort of sets your EP apart from a lot of other releases. So for me, that was, it sort of drew me in immediately when I saw the cover, but like this, this is something I have to listen to. So I have to agree with you. She did an amazing job, with the cover art. Yeah.

Grace: That’s what I was saying is, you know, you always get told grownup don’t judge a book by its cover. I mean, everyone does, you know, you got hugs and get a little hug. So yeah, I already placed a bomb. And you know, this old say the the secret vocalists on the last track who I think if you go on my YouTube, I did a full video stream.

There is right at the end of that, the credit list. And there’s a couple of like hidden people and faces. So not only friends, but a couple of people on the scene say, Gareth, they got Harrison from Novena. I would go, I got Tejeida from Haken. I’m going to get him to do a little sample set. It’s just like just little, little nods to face has been flown in people that helped make it happen. So I already, I already liked that as well. That it’s kind of like.

Rune: So, little Easter-Eggs there

Grace: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. But also like I’ve got to shout about it a little bit as well, because unless you’ve like met the people, you know, Diego doesn’t sing in a, in Haken and you know, you’re not gonna know what he sounds like, unless you’ve spoken to him. It’s like, you know, you got you. I mentioned it, I think.

Rune: Of course. And you know, that’s how that this industry works as well. You know, if you, if you have something that you think, sort of people will pick up on and be interested in, I think it’s, it’s just right to use it and, you know, get that little extra, you know, interest in your stuff.

So, so I want to ask you about your creative process then, you know, are you the kind of writer that writes like quickly and then, you know, there’s a full piece there, or are you the kind of person who likes returns and like modifies and modifies? Your music until it becomes the way you wanted to, how long ago did you start writing the, the, the songs that are on the EP as well?

Grace: Well, I would say, yeah, I probably started writing stuff in June, 2020. And I’d finished all of the recording by the middle of October. Let’s say it’s three to four months. And there were a couple of breaks in between. I also have the full-time job. Unfortunately releasing your debut EP, doesn’t make you money. Turns out it makes you lose a lot of money who would have guessed that?. But yeah, it kind of started with guitar mostly. Cause I was experiments in with these sounds. I was like playing a lot guitar at the time. And it started with these, these kind of basic risks. And so it got expanded and I was like, wow. I need a bass. Like I need to, I need a bass guitar so I can start doing some samples. I bought bass guitar and I had one a few years ago, but it was pretty bad and I sold it. So I don’t know something a bit more proper. That would sound good. And was a new thing with that. And I was like, oh, that sounds cool.

If I do this and just, just kind of playing around with stuff until things for then yeah, I was kind of, the drums came later again. I’m not really a drummer. Logic, which is that the audio workstation I use as this kind of difficult drumming thing in it, that you can just see like four balls of drums and six, eight of this tempo go.

And that was the extent of my drum writing. So that’s kind of how that started. And yeah, a lot of the, I think other than like 30 sort of jazzy breakdown in the third track was a console from electric panel break. A lot of the rest of the keys were not added until like the two or three weeks before I sent it off to get mixed.

Cause I kind of, I had a bit of a panic and I was like, I’ve been playing piano for like 15, 16 years and I’ve always considered myself like a pianist first and you know, and to sense and sound design and all this kind of stuff. It has none of that on here. Oh oh, I’ve got to like shoehorn in as much as possible and like put in all these different bits.

And I, yeah, I couldn’t believe how much that elevated everything, you know, particularly like the second track was too really cool since I was such a thing and maybe my favorite track as well, cause it’s kind of short and sweet. There’s just these really two keyboard bits. And I’m like, I couldn’t imagine that trait without those it’d be so boring.

So it was fun to sort of like last minute, do that and improvise it. And I could do that really quickly because I’m not having to sit there and think, oh, the strings in tune, do I need to like, change the intonation? Like it’s hard. Like I’m not picking cause I’m quite new to guitar. Relatively speaking, I might have been playing about four years, three years properly.

So being able to just write stuff on piano and without that was really quickly, it was, was a great help because it just, it was the easiest part of the whole thing. I was just like, now, like I know my arpeggios and scales. The mind is outrageous .

Rune: Exactly

Grace: So yeah. And then it was about halfway through all of that. I was like, oh, I need to, I need to make a theme to this. And there needs to be a whole like story around this. And that’s when I started writing the full track “Existence is Temporary”. And started checking in the vocals and stuff and building up, well, how can I bring the music video, into this and how that looks like, you know, how’s that, you know, I started scoping that out in September last year, I’m working with Pursued By A Dragon, which is a theater company, that my mate has been doing music stuff for a little while.

So it’s like, let’s get them involved. Let’s try and do some stuff. So it kind of just all happened at different rates. I’m finding now a year later, my writing process has changed dramatically. You know, I mentioned I’m sat on an album’s worth of material with a band. That’s a much slower process.

You know, we started writing that in June last year. And we’re still nowhere near like gains to finish point, but the stuff I’ve written on there is ridiculous. Like it’s so different. Especially cause I’m focusing on the storytelling and the, since I’m not gonna think about guitars and drums, cause someone else is dealing with all of that stuff, you know, it’s all, it’s a whole different way of writing.

And the same thing with the stuff I’m doing at the moment, which is most of the stuff it’s like the concept is there now. Well before I’ve put pen to paper and written music now, So there’s this whole, like, it’s a lot more planned out afterwards. So I think that’s gonna change how I’m writing stuff as well.

And also it’s something to throw in vocals as well. And just, it’s amazing how much stuff’s changed in the last like 18 months, just creatively and musically. Yeah, it’s been very interesting for me just to see how that’s all change.

Rune: I find that very interesting also because you know, the almost like multimedia approach to creating music or creating, you know, you talk about the videos, you talk about the story being important and. All, all those parts coming together. And I remember also when I talk to the musicians from Azure, they seemed also to have a bit of the same, you know, ideas around creating, you know, a world, they using the videos, everything like comes together, the music isn’t necessarily standing on its own. You know, do you feel like that’s a way to create that you want to continue on, you know, exploring, bringing other medias into, to your, your musical universe. So to say,?

Grace: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I’ve had a few late night conversations with Galen from Azure and just like the lore goes so deep, like. You know, even if you think you’ve listened to that album and you understand what’s going on, like you don’t, it’s, it’s crazy. That’s they, they are creative nutcases.

Rune: Yeah very much so, impressively

Grace: I can’t wait to get more, get more general as they go along. But yeah, I, I think just the storytelling thing is so important, you know, just, even from a pale point of view, You know, you, you think about an artist like Ozzy Osborne, you know, Black Sabbath, you know, that six albums, crazy, amazing, you know, stars a high genre and in time a political movement, but it wasn’t just the music. It was the characters and the personalities that seeped through all his, his whole career, you know, he’s, he’s the dude that ate the bat is the…..

Rune: yeh the whole mythos, right?

Grace: Yeah, this, this, the whole.. The mess that legends, all the people he’s work with. You know, the Osbournes in the early 2000’s, which I’ve been watching all of recently that in itself is a whole different way of experiencing his music and his creativity. I think you see that in a lot of things, the, just the story surrounding music, you know, it’s, it’s so much bigger than just the noise that goes into your ears.

I don’t know, lot musicians. that do that as well, but it’s, it’s just so important to build a story around that and build those concepts together and link things together. Cause you know, we, we, as humans, we absorb things, you know, we’ve got seven different senses.

Rune: We have

Grace: you know, you gotta, you gotta, you gotta tinkle all of them. You know, Iron Maiden they got their beer, you know, drink Iron Maiden beer. You listened to, Iron Maiden. And you read the audio book, you watched the live DVD, you know, there’s a whole experience you can have. That’s not just about what’s going into your ears. And I think that’s just hugely important. And yeah, I’m really looking forward to playing around with them video stuff in the future yeah. Had a lot of good fun.

Rune: Yeah I agree I totally agree. And it’s, it’s very interesting the way you put it, because of course, you know, I guess most of us have had the experience of like reading a book with some music in the background, and then that music becomes sort of linked to that story or that in your head and also video games and, and movies use music to great effect.

So why not turn that on the head, you know, and, and, you know, have the music as the foundation then have all of these media as like, you know, Yeah, building blocks to, to create a total artistic thing. I, I find it very interesting and I think that’s, that’s something that’s especially in, within progressive music, you have a lot of tools to make that happen.

So, so I hope to see more from young bands like yourself and Azure and how you, how will you develop that. So, you know, I, I want to ask you a little bit about your classical background, because you’ve been mentioning it a few times. We’ve touched on it, the piano, French horn, right? When did you start playing an instrument and what, what is the training you have? And also, do you think that your or, well, of course it does, but how does your classical background influenced the music you write?

Grace: A lot. So I must’ve been out the other day, I’ll say the five or six. And when I started playing piano, when I was about 10 minutes off playing French horn, I’ve covered a whole range of stuff, but, you know, growing up at school and everything, it was very, the focus was on classical, romantic era kind of music, or classical music for traditional choral stuff.

So not really looking at why is Cardi B’s wipe like a viral sensation, you know, it’s, it was very dated and a lot of how it approached music and especially. You know, my early teens, I was really into electronic music. I listened to a lot of Dead Mouse and Infected Mushroom. And also I was into Metal, I was listening to Rammstein and Metallica. I was that wasn’t in school and I was not, I wouldn’t say necessarily put down because of it that but, I wasn’t seen I think. you know “she’s not going to have a future in music. You know, she’s not, she’s not a part of the choir. You know, she doesn’t know when the year Rachmaninoff was born and how many symphonies he’s written”. And so there’s a big contrast where it’s, it’s, it’s somewhat been a hindrance. I feel I can, catching up in a lot of ways politically with guitar, you know, I wish I could have started that 10 years earlier on. But I’m learning stuff now that relates back and all is just …is building blocks.

But you see that as well with a lot of other big prolific musicians, you know, someone like Rick Wakeman in a hugely classically-trained before he started his career, you know, because. The music he was writing didn’t exist. You know, you couldn’t emulate anything or copy what was going on. You know, he was coming up with, with all the things he was doing from scratch. Same with a musician like Wendy Carlos, who came out with “Switched on Bach” is kind of creative, modern remix, the classic songs.

And you see that even this year, like with Liquid Tension Experiment 3, their rendition of Rhapsody in Blue. I know I’ve got a lot of friends. All classical friends who would listened to that and go “Oh, my God. Whoa, what is this? They ruined, you know, there’s amazing piece of music”. I love it. I think it’s great.

It’s already fresh interpretation. There’s a lot going on. There’s lots of creative spite. You know, you can hear the person on the table, the musicians coming through. And again, Rhapsody in Blue is a piece of land for solo piano before now. Beautiful. You know, there’s so much going on. And yeah, it’s just, it’s, it’s tricky to think about it.

Oh yeah. On the punch and side of things as well, I’ve done all sorts of Castro stuff. I played symphonies. I’ve played a lot of 20th-century film music. I played like marching band music. I’ve done a lot of stuff in brass bands. Little bits of sort of classical jazz as well. I played in a Dixieland band for a little bit.

And all of these things, like just kind of. Build and influence. And that’s, I think partly where my love of prog comes from, you know, not only my dad indoctrinating it and dominating it into me from a young age and like giving me his iPod and being like, listen to this and always putting on Genesis in the car.

Nothing after Steve Hackett left there, that’s his era classic. So just all of those things kind of built up and the line. And again, see Hackett another example of a musician, you know, you read his biography that you put out last year. Jensen is my bed. He talks about all of the classical music he was listening to as a teenager, as well as the rock stuff, you know, you’re picking up these vynils and also all of these really interesting symphonies.

I think especially the early, early, early 20th century stuff is really, really interesting. You know, something like the Rite of spring. Would start the birth of heavy metal. I mean, maybe, you know, that piece of music is, is crazy. You know, the, the, the idea of, you know, the first time they played it, the audience thought the devil was being summoned and we’re like, you know, I’m sure that this story has been you know…

Rune: a bit embellished, but yeah.

Grace: But that whole concept came through at Black Sabbath, you know, and the whole like Christian moms of the United States against Ozzy Osbourne, or whatever being like it’s all the devil’s music.

(laughs)

Rune: yeah, Dee Snider talking in court and all that

Grace: yeah crazy

Rune: I think that’s, that’s interesting. And, and especially I found it, you know what you said about the seventies prog rockers, I think a lot of them, like you said, or most of them probably had some kind of classical background or classical training. You see it, of course, like you said, in Rick Wakeman, but like. ELP doing older, you know, also the same as you had Liquid Tension (Experiment) doing now, you know, like recreating a rock version or like a prog version of, of like older classical pieces. And so I think it’s, I think it’s interesting. And of course it’s a helpful thing for any product musician to have influences from all kinds of music.

And, and that leads me a little bit into. My next question, because of course you’re also involved sort of with the progressive music scene outside of your own music, you know, you are the founder of the website, Proghurst that focuses on all kinds of progressive music. So what can you tell me about that page? And, and, and you know, how you started with that?

Grace: So again, originally it kind of also stands from the big, the big book of, of scrapbooks and tickets and stuff and getting to all these concerts, you know, you see online lots and lots of people, you know, if you want to find the review of new Opeth album, a hundred people have written about it.

How many people have written about Opeth show and the when, and when we SSE in 2016 or how many people have ever written about. Ah, I dunno, Coheed and Cambria and playing at a venue or whatever it is. And the whole thing of podcasts was like, it was almost, also almost started as like a personal diary. All of them live shows I was going to. A way for me to like, just keep track of like what I’ve been to and sort of again, have a sort of concrete thing and be like, this is where I was, this is how I was feeling like, this is what the venue was like, like here’s some photos, this was great. They played this song and just being able to go back and be like, yeah, I went to that concert and that’s how it started.

And it’s quite a casual thing for me. Like I said, it was just me writing. And again, pandemic happened … classic. I was like, well, all of my head in content is gone because it involved going to live shows. And as well, you know, I’d been going to, or made an effort to go to at least one live show. Every month I had a streak of over five years, a lot and just completely broken. So I was like, oh, what do I do now? Well, I’m not saying. Stop brunch. Terrific thing. What if I get a couple people and start talking to people about their music? What if I do that? And I’ll say, well, this is going. Let’s bring on some other ideas, you know, let’s, let’s start talking to people say he wants to come on board. And my, and it’s kind of slowly starting to expand particularly say over the last 12 months I’ve seen the views and hits and interest, just go up and up and up. And it’s been just all to see, not only marginal experiences with, on progressive music going out there, but also other people’s as well. Yeah, it’s been very cool to expand the out.

Rune: You know, I, of course, as someone who enjoyed that EP of yours so much I, I had on my list of questions of course, to ask what you, if you were planning another EP or a debut album or something, but you sort of already answered that a few times, of course, that you are working on, on new music. So then let me sort of. Push you a little bit then and ask, you know, when can people who enjoy the EP, expect some to hear some more music from Grace Hayhurst?

Grace: It’s very early days at the moment. And I also want to… always… see, I think as any musician does when they work on that, actually I want it to be bigger. I want it to be better, I want it to be more complicated. So obviously with that and becomes more expensive as well. So I need time to work, I can pick up more freelance and blend all the stuff together to like, try and make it happen.

And we’re getting there, like I said I think it’s, it’s, it’s, you know, we’re looking at late next year. I think again, I don’t think it’s going to be too soon. And I’ve also, you know, now the pandemics listed, I got a bunch of trips. I want to do it myself as well. Other things I want to do, you know, I’ve caught my schedule, start scaling for Zurich.

And when I want to see people and catch up with my friends and go to gigs, you know, I bought tickets for Prognosis in the Netherlands, which I’m looking forward to, you know, just all this stuff of like, I gotta get back to everything I was there. And as well as the music. Yes, of course. Yeah.

Rune: Well, at least that means that someone like me and others who enjoy your music knows that there is more music from Grace Hayhurst is coming. Maybe towards the end of next year. We’ll we’ll see. We, we will keep you up to date here at The Progspace. If there are news or anything from you, we will make sure to let our readers know about it. And finally, you know, I want to, we’re, we’re sort of winding down here, but I, I want to mention that you are, of course, by the time this interview comes out, people will know that you are a part of our lineup for the November Edition of The Progspace Online Festival, that’s going to happen towards the end of this year. So, so what are your expectations for this and what can people expect to see from you when…

Grace: So yeah, that’s going to be fun. I, when you asked me the other week, I was like, Oh God, how am I going to make this work? What can I do? Like who can I get involved? How can I do this? And you know, you have very, very clear in those specifications being like, you know, it doesn’t matter how far you go, you know, you could, you could sit in your bedroom and, and sing happy birthday. You know, you’re just, just something to, to be a part of that.

And I was like, well, I could do that. Or because I’ve, I, you know, I did a little playthrough video. If I think I’ve got a playthrough video going out pretty soon as well, me playing bass which is actually in an inverted way at a part, this approximate thing. So I am going to be working with a couple of session musicians, we’re going to be in together they’re going to be having a day in the studio and we’re going to try and do a live performance of a couple of the songs. It’s going to be fun. This is something again that I had not planned to start even thinking about until next year. No you know, getting together a band and attempting to see how viable live shows were.

And, you know, again, I was looking at doing open mic nights at pubs and maybe like Butler the bands and local stuff, you know, not, not anything like this. So it’s it’s been a bit of a rush stress. BUT, I’ve got everything in place. We’ve got musicians down. We’ve got studio spaces down, you know, I’ve got enough camera tools and stuff to make it happen.

It’s going to be hype. Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that. It’s gonna be really fun. Cause I’m basically just hanging with a bunch of friends in the studio for a day, play music, and it’s going to be already fun. So I’m looking forward to that.

Rune: So, so are we very much so, and, and if, if that’s what it takes for me to, you know, to get new music from some of my favourite musicians that I have to like, kick them in the ass, via The Progspace, then I’m going to use that. (laughs)

Grace: Yeah you have to write an article each month. Has Grace released new music? Can remind me.

Rune: Well, thank you so much, Grace, for being on the Progtalks with me. You who are listening and watching this should, of course, follow Grace on her social media, there will be links in the description. I also highly recommend you to check out “Existence is Temporary”, the EP Yeah, right. You can listen to the EP on streaming services or even better, you know, purchase it either digitally or physically from Bandcamp. So thank you, Grace, for being on the Progtalks with me.

Grace: No Worries, it’s been good. it’s been fun.

Rune: Yeah. As always, to you guys listening, you know, if you’re enjoying this, please give us a, like an, a subscription at The Progspace. It helps us until next time, stay safe and keep spreading the ProgLove!

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  • The Progtalks produced by The Progspace
  • Host: Rune Belsvik Reinås
  • Produced by Rune Belsvik Reinås, Vanessa and Matthias Kirsch
  • All graphics and animations by Vanessa Kirsch
  • Intro theme by Giuseppe Negri
  • Outro theme by Zach Munowitz

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