Haley Bonar is an indie rock/indie folk singer/songwriter from St. Paul, Minnesota. She’s been active since 2001, and is about to release a new album. The 33-year old Bonar (whose surname rhymes with “honor”) was born in Brandon, Manitoba and raised in Rapid City, South Dakota. At some point, she fell in love with punk rock, and she says that music in general and punk rock specifically allowed her to get out of her own head. She got out of the Black Hills and headed to Minnesota. The South Dakota prairie is an absolutely amazing place to visit. Breathtaking scenery and gorgeous National Parks, but I can imagine that it’s a dreadful place to live. She says she doesn’t even know why she did this, but she enrolled at the University of Minnesota-Duluth (Go Bulldogs!) where she became involved in the local music scene and played open mic nights as often as she could.
I don’t know the whole story, but on some fortunate night, Alan Sparhawk out of Low was in the audience at open mic. He was impressed by her so much that he invited her out on tour with Low. He also signed her to his Chairkickers Union label, and released her 2003 album …The Size of Planets. She stayed in Duluth for a while, and eventually moved to St. Paul. She put out a couple more records, then moved to Portland for a year, moved back to St. Paul, and made a couple more records. Her 2014 album The Last War (via Graveface Records) caught my attention, and I remember that for a couple of weeks, I was obsessed with the mesmerizing and dizzying video for the title track. I never actually got the album, though, and I also never wrote about her.
Today, I got a promo copy of the forthcoming album in my mailbag, and I really like it. There’s a bit of country flavour, which harkens back to her early days, but it’s fundamentally an indie rock record that reminds me of some stuff from college radio in the mid 1990s and also of some stuff that came out of that Toronto/BSS scene in the mid aughts. I guess, more than anything, it reminds me of In Our Bedroom After The War-era Stars. Tonight’s song reminds me of that record anyway.
“Kismet Kill” by Haley Bonar
Like most of her videos, this is pretty strange. Like at least one other of her videos, it’s about a woman thinking back on her own life while carrying a baby around. The woman in the video may have grown old, and “the party of the century” may have turned out to be different to what she expected, and but she’s still the prom queen.
Bonar has said that she doesn’t mind when people have their own interpretations of what the songs are about. She certainly writes them to be about something in particular, but she’s fine with people building a song meaning around their own interpretations. Here’s what she says in the press release:
Some of the songs are about loss of youth, teenage parenthood, the lines of social disorder for women, or the terror of jealousy and suspicion. But what I write is borne of my own set of memories and ideas, and once they are released into the world, they do not belong to me anymore. The interpretation is all yours, therefore these stories are yours
Impossible Dream comes out on August 5 via a tiny Minneapolis-based label called GNDWIRE. As far as I can tell, there’s only one other artist on that label. You can pre-order the album via the Haley Bonar website here.