When Liv Slingerland lost her beloved father in March 2020, the in-demand guitarist (Halsey, Olivia Rodrigo, Lauren Ruth Ward, Donna Missal) knew what she needed to do immediately: wrap Hey You, the solo album she’d spent the past few years honing in on. It was the least she could do — a heartfelt homage to her biggest fan.
“I’d been working on these songs for years,” explains Slingerland, “But I hadn’t truly given my own music a full push before. I felt that this was the best way to channel my grief while honoring what my dad had sacrificed to support me. I knew this was the time to refocus, the time to make something happen.”
The only problem? The pandemic, of course, although Slingerland wasn’t about to let a looming national lockdown get in the way of finishing her long overdue debut. Building on the myriad styles she’d mastered over the years — surf rock scorchers, Tom Petty tabs, the blues — and her recent studies in USC’s Popular Music program, Slingerland dove straight into decoding what she didn’t already know, between performing in Olivia Rodrigo’s band on SNL and in her ground-breaking Sour Prom. Mostly necessary evils like tricked-out production and engineering techniques required to drive her artistry forward in a much more self-reliant manner.
Before she knew it, surefire singles like “Bad Dreams” and “Clever” went from being rough, uncut diamonds to wild, synth-laced rave-ups, broken up by the occasional breather and traces of the tenacious musicians she’s long admired. Not to mention the moody films (Kill Bill, Blue is the Warmest Color) and modern art (Floria Sigismondi, mainly) that had been lingering in the back of her mind for months.
While Hey You was recorded in several LA studios, four tightly woven tracks (“Album Intro,” “Bad Dreams,” “Clever,” “Hey You”) were captured in Slingerland’s own apartment, bringing an intimate bent to deeply personal meditations on identity (“An Entire Lifetime”) and the unhealthy relationship that haunts many of her minor-keyed melodies and melancholic hooks (“Temporary Letdown,” “God Forbid,” “Hey You”).
“I hadn’t come out to my parents until after I graduated from college and was in my first queer relationship. Even though I knew they would be supportive, I was still fearful of their reaction, a feeling I know many experience. Finding community amongst other LGBTQ+ musicians and collaborators along the way has allowed me to fully embrace my queer identity without that fear, which was crucial for me to be able to write through the pain of that first heartbreak and ultimately to feel a sense of wholeness. These songs helped me work through the frustration I was feeling at that time and carve out my own path.”
It’s only fitting that the record has found a home at the “woman-informed, queer-happy” Righteous Babe Records, the label founded by fellow guitar slinger Ani DiFranco, and that Hey You is coming out while Slingerland is on tour with fellow queer pop artist Halsey.
As for her father’s role in all of this, she adds, “This record isn’t about him, but it is completely because of him that it exists. I can’t imagine finishing it without him.”
1. Album Intro (It Might Be Time)
2. Hey You
3. Bad Dreams
4. Running Away From the Party
6. An Entire Lifetime
7. God Forbid
8. Shouldn't Bother
9. Temporary Letdown
10. Come Back to Me