Photo courtesy: Matt Clifford
Music truly has the power to empower people. For independent pop punk artist Haley Graves, music was an avenue for her to be herself. Growing up in the small town of South Bristol, Maine, she had no Black Pop Punk female role model in the pop punk music scene to look up to in becoming an artist. But that did not stop the twenty-year-old from putting Maine on the music industry’s map. Her debut EP called She Thinks My Pop Punk Is Cringey marks the beginning of her journey to dominate the pop punk arena.
Haley Graves grew up listening to some of the biggest hits of her time, from the works of Justin Bieber to the powerful music of Demi Lovato. Music has always been a steady companion. She began playing the guitar at the age of eleven and hasn’t stopped since then. Eventually, Haley discovered pop punk in her early teenage years after being inspired by the music of 5 Seconds of Summer and Green Day.
Haley Graves performed as a session guitar player for other musicians throughout her high school years, including a blues band. She also became part of a high school rock band called Modern Prometheus as a rhythm guitarist. Along the way, Haley sang in the band too. Although her voice was well-loved by their listeners, she realized that she still finds greater joy in playing the guitar.
Spreading her wings wider, Haley Graves moved to Seattle, Washington, at eighteen and attended the Cornish College of the Arts. On her first adventure outside of her hometown, Haley hoped to become a better musician. But when the pandemic hit, her motivation to play the guitar seemed to have faded off with the rest of the world. Haley decided to take a break and focus on enhancing her skills as a songwriter, receiving online mentorship sessions from Owen Conforte, who was also one of her guitar teachers.
After months of trying to “write one good song,” Haley graves finally showcased her masterpiece to everyone. She Thinks My Pop Punk Is Cringey revolves around a girl who thinks her partner is yet to grow out of their angsty teenage phase. While working on her debut single, Haley also worked on two other projects, including a music video cover of Machine Gun Kelly’s “Concert for Aliens.”
The EP She Thinks My Pop Punk Is Cringey came to fruition with the help of Haley Graves’s producers Delwick Nanthou, Amit Amram, and Eric Padget. The artist also shared that she was heavily inspired by music icons such as All Time Low, New Found Glory, Neck Deep, Blink 182, The Story So Far, and Mayday Parade.
Despite her deeply rooted love for music, Haley Graves felt that her journey would have been more inspiring if she had a Black female role model. Today, Haley aims to be the inspiring figure for other aspiring artists who feel like they don’t belong in a particular genre. She has made it her mission to diversify pop punk.
“I feel like being a Black woman singing about women isn’t something you really see in the pop punk scene,” shared the artist. “I really hope that I can be that for someone and start to help pave that pathway.”
She Thinks My Pop Punk Is Cringey will be released across music platforms on July 30, 2021.
To learn more about Haley Graves, visit her website.