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10x10 Series: Haley Heynderickx with Matt Dorrien

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*Due to unforeseen circumstances, Chamberlain / Gonzalez are unable to perform this evening with Haley Heynderickx. Instead, Matt Dorrien will now be opening the show.

It takes a mix of skill and luck to tend a garden well, but it’s impossible without a certain amount of kindness tended. While the cyclical nature of gardening seems inherent, in some ways, Heynderickx is just beginning. Her debut album, named I Need to Start a Garden out of a search for calm through these waves of uncertainty and upheaval, is out now via Mama Bird Recording Co.

For the empathetic singer/songwriter, the reasons for seeking such acceptance and understanding stem from a life of paradoxes. Heynderickx grew up in a religious household in Oregon, closely identifying with her Filipino roots, but also straddling multiple cultural identities. Now residing in Portland, her faith is not overt, but her introspection and continued struggle for self-actualization are easily accessible and relatable.

Likewise, the tracks on I Need to Start a Garden reflect these seemingly disparate elements. Through soft acoustic guitar picking and deftly accented trombone sighs, Heynderickx’s music immediately recalls folk music of the ‘60s and ‘70s mixed with a love of jazz radio. But Heynderickx’s singing—her vocals that range from sultry to operatic—belie a tenacity in her soul.

It’s a balance then, between exposing and protecting herself on I Need to Start a Garden. Heynderickx vacillates between powerlessness (opener “No Face”) and empowerment (lead single “Oom Sha La La”). But her generosity of spirit remains the constant throughout the whole album.

You can hear that exceptional care in “Jo”, as she whispers, “You tended your garden like heaven and hell / and you built the birds houses to see if it helped at all.” Aware of the birds, the garden, and anyone listening acutely, Heynderickx’s music serves as an invitation for all to join her. Because the beauty of a garden is that, while it’s often started for deeply personal reasons, its bounty is best consumed and shared with others.

I Need to Start a Garden was produced, engineered and mixed by Zak Kimball at Nomah Studios in Portland, Oregon. Haley Heynderickx co-produced the album. It was mastered by Timothy Stollenwerk at Stereophonic Mastering in Portland. The record features Lily Breshears (Bass, Keys, Backing Vocals), Denzel Mendoza (Trombone, Backing Vocals), Phillip Rogers (Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals) and Tim Sweeney (Upright Bass).

Matt Dorrien

For anyone looking to quickly learn how Matt Dorrien’s second LP differs from the first, the Portland pianist and songwriter has provided some helpful hints. The first is right there in the title. His debut was In the Key of Grey, a reflection of its somber mood and post-breakup theme. This one’s called Blue Pastoral—big, expansive, rich, colorful, covering everything from fizzy samba-surf exotica to twinkling cocktail jazz. Dorrien opened the last album singing, “Baby, I’m so lost”; three songs into this one, over caramel-colored strings, he sings, “Baby, I’m so happy our paths crossed.”

“I think that’s the overarching theme of this record,” Dorrien says. “I went on tour with Courtney Marie Andrews last year, and I had a lot of fun with her and her band, but performing alone at the piano every night—especially as a relative unknown—has a way of making you keenly aware of your insignificance. I began to realize that I have someone at home who I love, and who loves me, and I’m okay with being anonymous, as long as I’m someone to her.”

It was a lesson that took a long time to learn. Growing up on Long Island, the son of a first-generation immigrant mother from the Philippines, hearing stories of brave victories—narratives of triumph and success over unbelievable odds—were an integral part of his childhood. “My mother first arrived in Los Angeles in the 1960s when she was in her early teens. Her father, my grandfather, was in the Philippine Air Force and fought the Japanese during WWII, barely escaping The Bataan Death March. When we were children, he would tell us these harrowing stories about his time in battle, and his emotional recounting of the American commander General Douglas MacArthur’s promise to return to the Islands stuck with me. Without getting too deep into the history, the Filipino people have been colonized many times—last but not least by the U.S.—and despite this problematic relationship and the internalized racism it has contributed to, Filipino people love Americans and American culture.”

You can learn more about Matt Dorrien here.

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