Hayley Williams surprise-released her second solo record, Flowers for Vases / descansos last Friday. An elegant, stark collection of quiet songs that deftly explore the nuances of heartbreak and loneliness.
Williams recently sat down for a lengthy interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1 to discuss the record, surviving in the time of coronavirus, the healing powers of therapy and producing and recording an album by herself.
“I think I’m really, really proud that I played everything on it. And I’m also really, really proud that this album is what I have to show for surviving a year that was tough for everyone,” Williams shared, as transcribed by NME.
Hayley went on to detail that she performed all the instruments on Flowers for Vases herself, illuminating that isolation gave her the rare opportunity to practice guitar again.
“I mean, I feel like I got better at guitar, which was cool. I haven’t had this much time to play guitar since I was a teenager before we started touring, and that was also just really therapeutic,” she explained.
Time spent in isolation proved to be a period of reflection for Hayley. “No matter if real and very personal things kept happening to everyone and global things happen to the collective. I lived it,” she mused.
“And also at the same time, it is so raw and so of the moment, but it also is such a culmination of all the lessons I’ve learned throughout multiple relationships that just felt like my own body was eating itself, you know? I just haven’t had a good enough relationship with myself to receive pure and simple stuff, like romantic relationships.”
She continued: “I’ve been in therapy now since we got home from ‘After Laughter’ [Paramore’s 2017 album], and I still go every week. I’m very fortunate that I can do that, but writing all of this stuff was kind of my…I didn’t know I was writing songs. I know that probably seems hard to believe, but a lot of them before we got into the studio were just half songs. Things that I would just turn on my voice memo on my phone and barely mumble through some stuff, and then I was able to sort of make sure that I was crafting it right once we were in the studio.”
Listen to ‘My Limb’ by Hayley Williams:
Though it was not a time spent without loneliness, one that Hayley didn’t completely register until reflecting on the album writing process.
“As I realised I had written a bunch of songs, I really didn’t even think…Because I was doing those self serenades all the time, just like playing covers on Instagram and posting those up for people to have. A lot of them weren’t popular songs, it was just things that were bringing me comfort. And then sort of a few months went by and I realised like, ‘Oh, I’ve been writing my own stuff.’
“I thought I’d be on tour right now in another country probably so bored of room service and in a lot of ways, it was still about diving deeper into being okay with taking something into my own hands, which you know I’ve had problems with in the past.”
Williams further delved into the therapeutic process of penning Flowers for Vases.
“I realised as I was untangling a lot of knots in myself that there are just so many ways that I learned how to love that were not right. And unlearning something that you’re 31 years in on is really tough,” she explained. ” And so some of the stuff that I talk about on Petals for Armor, it’s like I’m still in those processes. And honestly, if we had toured Petals for Armor, I probably wouldn’t have gotten to get to the underbelly.
“I probably thought I was there, and I wasn’t even close. Because being out there and being so busy all the time, and having people…even though there are times you feel naked, because there’s a lot of eyes on you, it’s the most insulated that I ever feel is being on tour.”