Ask the singer Hayley Jane where she lives, and she’s likely to answer that she doesn’t live anywhere. Originally from Monterey and a longtime resident of Boston and Vermont, she’s now back in California– but maybe not for long. “I’ve always lived a nomadic lifestyle. The pandemic brought me home and I had some wonderful adventures here, but lately I’m missing my friends back East. That’s how I always move around, just listening to that gut feeling.”
She hits Atwoods Thursday. She’ll be doing an acoustic show with Justin Hancock, the guitarist who formed Hayley Jane & the Primates with her when both attended Berklee around 2010. They’ll be drawing from “Late Bloom,” the solo album that she recorded in Nashville during 2021.
The wanderlust shows in Hayley Jane’s music as well as her life. “I came out of musical theater in the beginning — All the tattoos on my left arm are people from the ‘30s and ‘40s. I was absolutely enamored with Doris Day for awhile. Most parents get worried when their kids discover Britney Spears, but my mom worried about Marilyn Monroe. I can’t get rid of that musical theater, nor do I want to anymore. There was a time when I just had to be a rock singer. But I still have this lovely vibrato that I got from Doris Day — that’s her call, and I want to carry it on. Same with Janis [Joplin] who I discovered much later– I hadn’t listened to her until people started comparing me to her; then I got absolutely obsessed. From her you hear the pain and the honesty — ‘This hurts and I’m going to sing about it’.”
With the Primates she busted out of Berklee and got embraced by the Northeast jam-band circuit. “Berklee to me was like any other college, the place where you meet some of your greatest friends and you figure out what kind of art you want to make. When you think about what jam-band music is, it’s really the young man’s jazz where you’re passing ideas back and forth, you’re improvising and seeing where things go. Just like in life, I like flying by the seat of my pants.”
Her exuberant dancing also became a factor in the band’s shows. “I’d give 70 percent of my body autonomy to the music. You can control that but it’s much better when you let it take over. I feel blessed that I had permission to look weird. And maybe by going onstage I could give everyone, especially women, the permission to look weird and wild and possessed– which you are, possessed by the music.”
With the Primates on extended break after a brief reunion last year, she plans to try working with a few different band lineups. “It’s a transitional period, but then I’m always in those — so I don’t know how transitional it can be when you’re always there. But you know how it is– You hit your 30’s, people get pregnant and life stuff happens, then you look around and say ‘Okay, who made it and who’s still going?’ Then you get together and magic happens.”