Hayden Arp is an indie, folk songwriter and producer from Alexandria, Virginia and has just released his gorgeous debut album With Eliza. Having just finished a period of intense work, Hayden found himself with a week off where he wrote and demoed. Reflecting upon a road trip he took with friends a few years ago, he wrote his experience into music and thus, Eliza was born. He describes the album as a work that encompasses a “warm, natural, organic, and intimate sound.” In fact, he would call it nostalgic.
We caught up with Hayden to talk about his debut album and working with Lucy Dacus.
Hi Hayden! How’s everything going right now?
Things are going wonderfully! I’m thrilled to have the album out in the world, preparing an exciting release concert, and am loving my life in Vienna.
What classic album cover is your current mood?
I’m not sure if you’re accepting modern classics, but things have just taken a turn for the cold and cozy here in Austria, and I’m in a very Taylor Swift Evermore mood.
Your beautiful debut album With Eliza has just been released. What can you tell us about the writing and recording of the record?
It was a long process! The album started in 2018 and only got finished up this past summer. Mostly written and recorded at home, with a few studio trips for drums and string quartet. The lyrics are built on a lot of interwoven memories and ideas about partnership, writing, and road trips (of which I took a number in the last four years!).
Probably a difficult question but do you have a favorite song on the album? (I would probably pick “Passenger” if I had to)
I think my answer changes with the seasons. Right now, I think my favorite is “A Parable.” It’s the sensitive slow jam on the album, and has a kind of relaxed swagger that I have been enjoying recently. I also have been recently getting back into Deja Vu – I really love the ambient section that takes up its second half!
If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly! It’s such a varied masterpiece, I think it could keep hitting most of my musical cravings for a while.
What made you decide to become a singer-songwriter?
I made the decision to focus my life on music when I was 11. I had been making beats for a few years already and knew that there wasn’t anything I loved more at the time. Looking back, I think I also wanted to find purpose and structure for myself, and was able to achieve that through music.
Who did you listen to when you were growing up and how did they influence With Eliza?
Growing up I was a big Beck fan, and I think his genre-less curiosity for finding interesting sounds and fitting them together has carried through much of my work. Sufjan Stevens is a great and sensitive songwriter who I tried to emulate for a few years in high school. Iron and Wine the same.
You’ve toured and worked with the amazing Lucy Dacus. What did you learn from working with her?
I love Lucy! I went on tour with her a few years back playing a cover of Prince’s I Would Die 4 U with her to open her sets. Traveling with her was my first experience seeing what touring at that level really looks like (lots of car time + bagel sandwiches). She’s also very thoughtful about how she engages with people, which is really important when you’re leading a band.
What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
Oooh, can I have those fancy tomatoes that are very dark and call it the Black Hole?
What do you have planned for 2023?
There is one big project I’ve been working on for even longer than With Eliza that will finally see the light of day (woohoo!), as well as some more funky new singles. And I’m hoping to get some exciting concerts planned, both here in Europe and back in the states!
Hayden Arp is an indie, folk songwriter and producer from Alexandria, Virginia. Since starting his career, he has released two EP’s and toured the US extensively including joint performances with Lucy Dacus.