What could be more fitting for the year we've had than tags like "90's grunge with the melancholy of the 21st century"? That's what comes to mind when hearing Australian indie/pop star Hayley Mary's latest single "The Chain." Released by the Melbourne label I OH YOU, "The Chain" bears resemblance to quirky 90's artists like Alanis Morissette and Fiona Apple while having a visual aesthetic that wouldn't seem unusual in a Bjork video. Hayley who's been dubbed "the indie queen of Australia" and once fronted one of the country's most popular bands recently took on a solo career after the pandemic forced her band into a hiatus.
Hayley feels "The Chain" is "the saddest song I've ever written" but also finds it's "one of her most uplifting." The song was written the same night she found out her headlining tour was canceled due to the pandemic. Hayley remembers sitting in her apartment watching the news as more and more of the world began to shut down and all of her plans for the year began to vanish. She soon picked up a guitar and began writing from a similar experience: "It was a feeling I’d had before akin to depression that there is some kind of invisible magic chain holding me to the earth and keeping me from moving forward or climbing higher, which if I pull too hard on or try to escape from, seems to have devastating consequences behind or beneath me." However, perhaps from the joy of songwriting or Hayley's own personal growth, she was able to spin the song into a more optimistic light. "But this time it was an odd sort of happy-sad because for the first time I felt like the chain not only held me down, it connected me to everything and everyone else. For a brief moment, everyone could see it and feel it at exactly the same time.” This "happy/sad" feeling makes its way into Hayley's video as we see her cutting back and forth between singing and dancing in a beautiful but gloomy mansion and outside in a sunny, green courtyard amidst a troupe of dancers. This juxtaposition between isolation at home and freely moving about outside creates a familiar feeling to anyone having gone through or currently in quarantine.
"The Chain" gives a poignant voice to the emotional disorientation of 2020, exploring the depth of loss felt by all, but bringing the joy we want and need from music right now. Stream "The Chain" anywhere you listen to music and don't forget to follow Hayley Mary on social media to stay up to date with her career!