Performance-based folk singer-songwriter and sophomore Haley Richter sat down with TKS to talk about her musical past, present and future. She can often be found collaborating with Fellows (comprised of sophomores Lee Foxall and Madeline Pape) or performing on Jazz Night, when she isn’t busy with Knox College Choir events.
The Knox Student: Tell us a little about yourself.
Haley Richter: I am a sophomore, from Minneapolis, and just declared as a psychology major. I’ve done music forever. I’ve been in opera choirs since the fourth grade and then high school choirs, so I’ll say I really love singing. In junior year of high school, I transferred to a public arts high school called Perpich to focus on music. There was auditioning involved, including writing a song based on some pictures they sent in the mail, which I was really not confident about, but I guess they liked it enough, since I got in. So I was there for two years, and learned about a lot of other kinds of music as well, like jazz ensemble, African bongo drumming, to name a few.
TKS: So you came to Knox from Perpich?
HR: Yes, I did. I looked at the “40 Colleges That Change Lives” book, and I knew I wanted to go to a school with a strong arts program and not one that was just simply a music conservatory. I didn’t want to solely focus on music, I wanted to explore other options, and so here I am. I joined the KCC, got music scholarships and it all worked out. It’s been great!
TKS: What instruments do you play, and how did you get started with them?
HR: I play the mandolin and the ukulele, and also the piano, but not very well. I got a ukulele for my birthday a couple years ago and I loved it, but then I got to point where I couldn’t really do anything more with it. I’m also not very good with stringed instruments. I looked for an instrument which was a little more challenging than the ukulele. The banjo is next on my list!
TKS: So what’s your songwriting process? Has it become easier since that audition song?
HR: It’s become much easier since then, but I still struggle with it. I usually start writing a song like another person will write in a journal. I have something to say or process, but it’s hard to get the music to match up with what I’m saying, sometimes. But it’s fun! I start with an idea or an experience, write a few lines as though I were writing a poem and then I mess around with chords or a beat, try to sing the lines over it and keep going like that.
TKS: What are your future plans for your music?
HR: Well, I came to Knox thinking I’d be a music major, that performance was going to be my “path,” but I decided on a different path, psychology, and surprised myself with that. I’m looking at a future in therapy, either music therapy or therapy with me working on my music on the side. No matter what, I do want to keep playing. I want to play for people but not really as a recording artist. I did want to be famous, hear myself on the radio, at one point, some years ago, but now I know that’s not really what I want.
TKS: So what outlets do you get for that here?
HR: I get to do so much! So much more than I thought that I would, really. Like, I’m in the choir here, and we’re going on tour soon. I’m also in a vocal jazz ensemble that performs at McGillacuddy’s, and I did open-mic at The Beanhive recently. Definitely want to do that again. I’m doing a show at The Beanhive and I do random shows around campus, and I really didn’t expect any of this to happen.
TKS: Have you thought about maybe recording a couple of your songs, just for yourself?
HR: Actually, I have. I would like to, but I’ve been a little apprehensive about it. I’ve never actually done that, recorded an entire song, but you know, why not? It’s a facility and opportunity I can avail here, so why not?
TKS: Okay, last question. What were you to say your musical style is?
HR: Acoustic folk, with influences from a lot of strong, female vocalists. Norah Jones is my go-to, I love her, and oftentimes I’ll finish a song and listen to it and hear some similarities to songs from artists I listen to a lot. Norah Jones, First Aid Kit, Adele, Lake Street Dive and Phox, which is a band I saw in the summer and fell in love with.