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Singer songwriter spotlight: Hayley Stark


Hayley Stark
Haley Stark: (left) Jennifer Bryan & (right) Monica Julie.

Hayley Stark

The acoustic/folk talents of Toronto duo Jennifer Bryan and Monica Julie is something unique to watch. I happened across them, through my Canadian music "searches" online, and wanted to hear more. In my case, if I hear an artist/group online first, there often is a real curiosity to see if the artist can "bring it" live.

Although not confirmed by Jen or Mon, Hayley Stark actually is the name of an Ellen Page character from a film called "Hard Candy". In a nutshell this teen is not whom she seems, "a sweet innocent teenager" (It's hard to explain, read the description here: "Hard Candy"

Anyhow, my point is that indie music Hayley Stark, is cut in a similar aesthetic (acoustic melodies, with a rock/punk grrl edge). They bring complementing guitar styles and instrumentation, and their vocals are creative and unique how they put the parts together. They have innate sense of rhythm without a percussionist, as well as having a joyous fun heard within their music.

That being said, they bring a tough/rock edge underneath their sweet melodies, that translates well to their live show. I can vouge for that as I went to a Hayley Stark show on April 15th, 2010. Although a short set on that night, I was able to capture some video (underneath), and a sense of their musical spirit. 

Hayley Stark taking a<br />
break on a bench (Photo by: Dan Miguel)

Afterwards I had a chance to talk with Jennifer and Monica (lot's of laughing!):

Jen & Mon: The Raise The Roof Music festival (Kingston), we'd love to play this festival!

Jason: There was a buzz chatter when you got off the stage!

Jen & Mon: Ooh, yah that's good!

Jason: "Get Over It" debut EP...

Jen & Mon: It's our debut EP, 4 song; We did our video first (summer '09), than we released the record last fall...

Hayley Stark - Get Over It

Jason: How was CMW '10...

Mon: was fun. What happened at the show actually was quite interesting. CMW like any other festival is...lot's of media, lot's of bands, lot's of press, lot's of coverage. For us, it was the exposure. The venue we were at was an intimate venue, it was so intimate, that when the sound guy, no not the sound guy, but the sound itself, acutally cut out halfway through our set the sound cut out...yah! We were kinda messing around and the engineer is trying to figure out what he wanted to do, and Jenn was like off the wall and  "let's just unplug and just do this!". So we did "Somebody Else"

Jenn: in the middle of the room

Mon: In the middle of the floor...unplugged. That was just the highlight of the night, it was a technical difficulty, but it was the highlight of the night!

Jenn: By the time we finished it, he had it all set up, so we went on and finished it. It's funny because it was the F*** up of the night, but everybody kept being like, it was the highlight of their night.

Mon:  I praise that technical difficulty. As performers you kinda have to do's totally like a one-off, instead of standing around acting like "What the hell are we gonna do?" F*** like We play acoustic guitars, so they can still hear us...

Jenn: Everybody had to be quiet...

Mon: Hayley Stark, people want to dub us as a singer sonwriter, and we are technically...but we are definitely we are something to be better recognize that!

We write what we like...songwriter for us is easy simply because we write what we want to write, personally we grew up listening to '90s  (Nirvana, Veruca Salt, Soundgarden...)

Jason: When did you know you two clicked in the sense musically (with each other)?

Jenn & Mon: Right away

Mon: Me, personally, I'm the type of person that all about "gut feeling", I go with what feels good, when I saw her it felt good. 

Jenn: Yah, we were playing together, in the bands, we formed another band after than one broke up, yah we stuck together and we tended to do a lot of the songwriting in those bands anyway...

Jason: You mean you weren't both primarily singers?

We both knew we wrote songs at home with our acoustic guitars, hadn't done a lot of singing...though, no we weren't. Mon: I played drums for 8 years; Jenn: I played electric guitar, but I really didn't touch the microphone much.

What did it feel like, what was it like to go on stage that night 1st show with Hayley Stark?

Jenn: Scary as F***

Mon: My first show as Hayley Stark, I had my eyes closed for the whole time. Yah! And I didn't know that...

 There were a lot more revealing Q&A's with Hayley Stark about life as an indie music artist, except there was over 30 minutes of audio footage and; 1) they talk fast; 2) I type slow. Therefore if you want to know more, e-mail me.

It seems they are in an ongoing competition of sorts to get a coveted slot on a show with Sarah McLachlan in the summer. So, I was recently sent this update from Hayley Stark:

 Oh hi again, 

You know what? Your Lilith Fair judging pushed into 1st place awhile back – muchos gracias! In order to stay in the game, we’ve gotta be in the top 20 on May 25. So, if you’ve got a few more rounds of judging in ya, we’d think that was just awesome. Hayley stark will come up more often in your battles if you log in and go to our ‘Overview’ page and select us as your favourite artist on the right side of the screen - (you have to be logged in already to do this) 

Let’s all celebrate the summer and our potential gig with Sarah McLachlan (right!?) by soaking up the sun in Kensington Market on Saturday May 29. We’re playing a free show outside of The Rage – this sweet clothing store on Kensington Ave that’s celebrating its 5th Anniversary - We’re on around 2:30pm so drop by and sing along.
And finally, we are most delighted to be a part of a singer-songwriter showcase in the beaches at Mullins Pub on Wednesday June 2 around 9pm. It’s at 917 Kingston Rd: Come by in your bikinis and trunks and have a pint with us.

See you around town!


Jen and Mon

For more info: Myspace -; YouTube -; EPK -


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