Hearing her classic voice for the first time, you can tell she has paved her own way; through the velvety hints of Motown and the bold romance of early jazz, the music of Hayley Sales reimagines the vintage sounds of the 1950s and 60s. A true artist, she has had to take a long way; carefully crafting her songs to match the unabashed honesty of a born performer. It’s as if you’re peering into the most intimate corners of her heart, unguarded. There’s a romantic elegance to her that is hard to come by in 2021.
Sales were born into an incredibly artistic family in the heart of Washington D.C. Her father, Richard Sales (The Ramones/ Grateful Dead/ Miles Davis) owned and operated GlassWing Studios in the basement of their run-down Victorian house. Sales would sit for hours on the mixer, letting the R&B beats and soul melodies rock her to sleep. At five, a childhood friend played her an old recording of Judy Garland and the flame burned even more fervently. It was love at first listen as an already alighted yearning to perform became her torch.
If Sales wasn’t rehearsing for theatrical production, she was sitting at the upright piano practising Gershwin, Queen or Prince. Before the age of sixteen, Sales had toured the UK as a backup vocalist for a Hindu Saint from India, interviewed the Dalai Lama, performed at the WWII Ace Pilots convention at the Pentagon and lied about her age to land the lead role in a university production of Romeo and Juliet for Oxford scholars. At sixteen, Sales graduated with honours from a private performing arts school (NWA) and reluctantly followed her parents to an organic blueberry farm on Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
Sales dove into the recording studio and by the age of seventeen produced her first demo album, ‘First Flight.’ Following its completion, Sales moved to Los Angeles to pursue her music and acting career, raising the money by shovelling sawdust onto 670 blueberry bushes. After a series of close encounters with success, eating stole Sales’ voice, forcing her to move back to the blueberry farm. One year later, with her vocal cords still on the mend, she returned to the studio and completed a fifteen-song debut album, ‘Drifter,’ a record that ultimately led to her first major-label deal. While on tour, Sales caught the attention of Universal Canada Music and signed with them, making two Top 40 LPs (‘Sunseed’, ‘When the Bird Became A Book’).
When it came to her third record, Sales wanted to re-introduce her boldly passionate, piano-based songs, but Island/Def Jam disagreed. She decided to go independent and produce her next record. After working on it for four years, Sales signed with Verve Music Group. Unfortunately, a week after she finished and delivered the masters, her label experienced an untimely turnover. The ironically named ‘Misadventures’ was never released, and years later remains entangled in label politics.
After a rather luxurious bout of legal bills and a healthy helping of heartache, Sales got back to work, spending every hour of the day recording, producing and editing her latest studio album; a compilation of twenty new and original tunes called ‘Ricochet.’ ‘Ricochet’ is a fleet of songs that carried Sales through the storm; a body of work that resonates with resilience, vulnerability and romance. “When you throw a ricochet, it comes back and sometimes it comes back with more power,” she says. “After decades of being told to find my voice, to change this or that about myself, I finally realized that I didn’t have to change anything,” she says. If you need the inspiration to never surrender, ‘Ricochet’ is the record to do it, one crafted out of the ashes of setbacks. It is a masterful record because of that adversity. “Music has kept me alive,” she says.