Everyone knows that when travelling to new places, the best spots to visit aren’t the ones easily found on the web. It’s all about local favourites – those true hidden gems that make the place unique for its own inhabitants. In our Hometown Hotspots series, we’re catching up with musicians around the world to find those gems on a personal tour through their own cities.
Once a professional athlete on the US national cyclocross team, Gavin Haley has taken a steep turn to become one of the most exciting new singer-songwriters today. Channelling the love for music and singing built over years of church choir, Haley now indulges his listeners with sultry indie pop, heartfelt lyrics and dynamic vocals.
Haley’s millions of Spotify streams seem to affirm his pivot to music. His recently released singles “Body Language” and “Cliché” have impressively garnered fans around the world. With his official debut album i hate you, Don’t Leave Me finally dropping on July 15, this Louisville native is upping the momentum with a deeply personal tracklist.
Come along as Gavin Haley walks us through some childhood spots in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky and newfound Los Angeles, California favourites.
Life in Louisville, Kentucky
It’s funny how once you’re away from somewhere you start to have a different appreciation for it. I’ve been in LA for five years but grew up in Louisville. My family homeschooled my siblings and I, and we were pretty involved in church. That’s where my love for music started. Watching the live bands every Sunday and seeing the Christian music acts that came through our church.
I didn’t go to parties or out much, but I spent my time in nature. We have some amazing parks in town. I cycled a lot growing up. Eventually I competed all over the country and Europe racing cyclocross, but my love for it started in a place called Cherokee Park. I'd spend hours a day riding mountain bikes on the trails there.
A lot of my time was spent alone in the woods and that’s a big contribution to my art. Connecting with the trees and myself – days and weeks on end with introspective thoughts and ideas about this experience of life. Being alone started my relationship with writing.
An eatery you’d feel homesick for: Snappy Tomato
They used to sell this pizza called “the beast” and it was like USD$20 and would feed my entire family haha. A song that reminds me of this time in my life is Lisztimania by Phoenix.
I don’t know who this is, but look at the size of that.
Your favourite place to perform: Hotel Café
I didn't start performing until I moved to LA. My favourite venue to play at in LA is definitely Hotel Cafe, the small room. Regardless of how big someone is, it feels like people come to listen and I love that.
Your go-to for live music: Winston House
Any house show in LA, Winston House specifically. I discovered so many new artists early on. I got to see YUNGBLUD in 2017 with my sister and was blown away by the energy he brought into that space.
Your secret spot for new visitors: River Road
There are some great spots to drive to where I'm from. I think I would just go for a drive down River Road into the country, and show people the beauty of where I'm from. I'd probably play the Parachutes album.
The one place you hope will always stay the same: Cherokee Park
Credit: Thomas Kelley / Alamy Stock Photo
1-mile smile mountain bike trail at Cherokee Park. The best descent for mountain biking. Flows and you hardly have to hit the brakes. Weightless feeling. I rode on that trail hundreds of times growing up.
Hometown Hotspots is created in collaboration with Secret Signals.
Cover Credit: Khufu Najee