Local Band Spotlight: Ha Vay

in Q&As/SF Local Bands by

How did you come up with the name of the band?
It is the Chinese name my grandmother gave me when I was born. I’m half Chinese, but grew up in a majority white town and did not share much of my cultural background with my peers. So in making music I wanted to take ownership over that side of my identity and give it a voice.

How would you describe your sound?
Psychedelic indie pop-rock

When did you first become interested in playing music?
My dad is a musician so I was brought up around it. I loved watching his bands play; he’s a really dynamic performer and that definitely inspired me to want to get up on stage myself!

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
A couple of years ago I noticed an especially excited woman in the audience and assumed she must have been a friend of someone in the band. But it turns out that she heard my voice in a class at Expression College that I’d lent my vocal track to and liked the song and my voice so much that she tracked me down and came to my show! She’s been my manager and dear friend ever since.

What are you listening to these days?
I’ve been revisiting the music my parents played around the house when I was a little kid – a lot of No Doubt, The Police, Sheryl Crow, and other 90s pop/rock/punk/ska acts. I’ve realized recently how much they’ve inspired my music!

What does music mean to you?
It’s one of the ultimate forms of cathartic creative expression in my opinion. It’s a universal form of communication that makes people feel things in a way that nothing else can!

How’d you guys first get together to play music?
We are a two-piece, me (Maddy – singer, songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist) and Elliott (audio engineer, producer, multi-instrumentalist). We met through mutual friends and played together in another band, but started this project during the pandemic as we quarantined together.

San Francisco is full of music history. Who are some San Francisco musicians who inspired you?
Megan Slankard is a local SF musician who I’ve always looked up to! We met when I was 15 and just starting to write songs and she really encouraged me to pursue this. It meant a lot to me because she’s incredible!

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
Bottom of the Hill, Slims, Rickshaw Stop – I love more intimate venues!

Where do you like to get creative in San Francisco?
Golden Gate Park, Sutro Baths, Ocean Beach…I love some nature to help inspire!

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
We’re really into sustainability with everything we do! I run an online secondhand/vintage and upcycled clothing shop (@psychedelicgarden on Depop) and all the costumes in our videos/photos are from the shop. We try to just use what we have, shoot our videos on our phones, and record at a studio we’re working on building in Mill Valley!

Is there anything you’d like to plug?

Our new single “Ode to the Party Girl” is out now. And we’ll be playing live at Glazed and Confused in San Rafael on June 18th at 6 p.m.

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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