When you hear the emotion in Hayes’s music and lyrics, it will be hard to believe you haven’t been listening to him for years. As a kid, his mom pointed him in the direction of James Taylor, his dad introduced him to Springsteen, and his sister gave him some Blink-182. He found his own way to artists like Roy Orbison, Neil Young, and Interpol.

Somewhere along the way, Hayes picked up a guitar and completely immersed himself in music. He played with bands as a guitarist, as a front man, and sometimes both. Today, he’s mainly a solo artist based in Brooklyn, NY, playing the local NYC scene and touring around the country at stops like Boston and Nashville. 

Hayes talked with us about things like writing lyrics, arranging music, inspiration, criticism, and the business side of his career. The best part of the episode and, candidly, maybe the best moment in the history of the podcast so far was Hayes doing a live in-studio performance with us…of a brand new song. It was an incredible example of talent, hard work, and inspiration coming together.

For anyone interested in building a music career or simply hearing what it takes to hone a creative craft, listen to Hayes. And, here are his Three Big How’s, which are in somewhat of a chronological order:



Decide what you like and see how it’s done. If you’re identifying with an artist or the music resonates inside you, dive in head first. Listen to what you love with a guitar in your hands, and imitate. Go to live shows, watch what the artists you admire do, and gain appreciation for what it takes. As you soak it up, you’ll be learning at the same time.


Now, determine what you bring to the table and what makes you distinct. What is your relationship to the music? How do YOU want be seen/heard when you share “your thing”? As Hayes said, “Neil Young is great, but I’m not Neil Young.” He needed to make his music his own…and so do you.


Share your work with people. Play it for friends. Play live shows and cut your teeth. The experience will be invaluable, and you’ll also get a better feeling for whether or not “your stuff lands,” as Hayes said. These tests are sometimes painful, but most creative learning is. Be open to criticism, and refine things based on the feedback you believe is valid.


Don’t be afraid of completing your songs. You could tweak them forever, but then you’ll never have anything out there. You can’t worry about how it’s going to be received. Easier said than done? Maybe…but you have to release songs and, just as importantly, you have to move on and get more going.

Hayes is a fresh talent with a bit of an old soul. His songs have a sadness but also an optimism that makes them solid REPEAT material. Listen to what he has to say, and you’ll learn. Listen to what he has to sing, and you might learn something too.

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