Hawley
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Hawley

Chicago, Illinois, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2011 | SELF

Chicago, Illinois, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2011
Band Alternative Grunge

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"Hawley Shoffner is Taking Back What's Hers"

Consider 2015 something of a fresh start for Hawley Shoffner. The songwriter and musician has always pursued her passion and even released music, but she's now reclaiming her sound and voice while showcasing new skills.

Although she has played piano since she was a child, and guitar for the past four years, she only recently began taking lessons. Shoffner is less an overall perfectionist, more interested in transforming the way she works and performs.

"I think now I'm less scared of failing," Shoffner said about changing how she works and playing the guitar. "I used to be scared of playing in front of people, even when I started up a band a couple of years ago. It's nice to be prepared and, when talking to people, know what key this is in or whatever notes sound good with it."

In the process, she adopted the use of alter egos. The songwriting process can be daunting for any artist, but for Shoffner, a musician who is open and vulnerable about her struggle to stay open and vulnerable with her writing, songwriting provides unique challenges. "My trick is to write a song usually as someone else or someone talking to me," she began. "Sometimes when I'm writing as myself, I'm too critical of myself. It's really hard to write honest lyrics that way."

This past winter she created Bunny, a side project/alter-ego. Shoffner began writing songs in the character of Bunny, eventually finishing 15 monologues and a storyline that includes a signature pink wig and a personality imbued with naivete. Based on Candy Darling, an Andy Warhol Superstar and a muse for The Velvet Underground, Shoffner says her character is also an exploration of songwriting processes that differ from her normal routines. "It's just easier sometimes to picture your life in a different way and just to write songs for someone else," she said. Despite the alter ego, Shoffner makes a point of identifying these alter egos as all her. "I think it's important to do some stuff under my actual name for a second."

Her latest project is Tiger, an upcoming 7-inch release, which serves as an emotional release and a statement for the person (and musician) Shoffner has become as she's gotten older and wiser. The title comes from a song on the release which has shifted meaning over time. Originally about a bad relationship and, what Shoffner describes as, "the girls who go to shows and try to date and hang out with the guys in the band," she now says the track details the evolution of her sexuality and sense of self.

"I was in a bad place and I was jealous, but now that I've been single for a while, it's kind of turned more into learning about my sexuality so that girls are an option," she said. "It makes more sense now than it did then."

The rest of the songs on the 7-inch were also written around the same time as a previous relationship. For Shoffner, the tracks represent a part of her life that is now gone. "I just feel like I'm a completely different person now," she said. Musically speaking, the release is also a letting go of her "past musical self" and everything it entails. Whether the newness of her instrument, overcoming the struggle to write the songs she wants to write or reclaiming her recording sessions, Shoffner is in a newer, better, stronger place. "I think I'm finally at the point where I sound exactly how I want to sound," she said. - Chicago Tribune


"A Musical Life: Hawley Shoffner"

Hawley Shoffner is a Wichita-based songwriter who claims comic books and Thin Lizzy as influences. She says that it’s easiest to write songs from the perspective of someone else. “They’re best,” she says, “when written from the perspective of Gena Rowlands or a vampire in sunglasses.” With a full length album behind her she has a new EP, called Tiger, that she’s eager to release.

My name is Hawley Shoffner. I am a songwriter. I play the ukulele, and the guitar and the piano and a 12-button accordion.

I think the first time I wrote a song was when I got my heart broken when I was 16. I called the guy who broke my heart because he brought a different girl to the dance. So, I wrote a song for him and called him and played it for him. And I think that that’s the first real song I ever wrote.

They usually just write themselves. I read a lot of comic books and usually that lends itself to some songwriting.

Thin Lizzy is my favorite band—probably next to Fugazi. I don’t know. They might share Number One. I think Phil Lynott has the best voice of all time. I like to put on really slow, sappy Thin Lizzy songs before I go to sleep. And I’m thinking about releasing a ukulele covers record of just Thin Lizzy songs, ‘cause I have, like, four down. - KMUW


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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