There’s something magical about Haley Reinhart’s aura.
It’s in her ‘60s appeal, it’s in her free-spirited live shows and it’s in her band, which once included the now Grammy-winning hip-hop heavyweight Anderson .Paak.
Reinhart, quite like her former drummer-turned-performer extraordinaire, has evolved her sound over her career. Her new record, “Lo-Fi Soul,” is a coverless call to the ‘60s, full of organs, lovely backing harmonies and vocal effects that carry the record throughout. Unlike her previous effort, “What’s That Sound,” Reinhart’s originals run her latest and feel straight out of The Monkees’ or The Doors’ organ-heavy catalog. It’s vintage, but it’s her.
Reinhart’s show at Babeville on Oct. 13 should exude just as much soul as the project itself, with a nice student ticket discount, too. We caught up with the former American Idol star to chat about the show and everything we missed since our last 2017 interview.
Our conversation, lightly edited for length and style, follows below.
The Spectrum: We last spoke after you released “What’s That Sound.” What’s been the biggest change in your life since 2017?
Reinhart: The biggest change for me in the past few years is that I am now a fully independent artist and just started up my own record label called Reinhart Records. I’ve taken full control and it has truly been liberating. I’m free from industry folks’ opinions, weighing in on everything and the doors of opportunity continue to open more than ever.
Being an artist and running a corporation is a 24/7 job, so my timeline is full of different gigs, tours, voice over, acting, auditions, music videos, shoots and recording. Content is queen and now I can put out as much as I want, whenever I want.
TS: Do you feel like you were able to properly represent this change with “Lo-Fi Soul?” What do you hope this record says about your musical development in the last couple years?
Reinhart: Releasing my fourth album, “Lo-Fi Soul,” may just be the most comfortable, natural and me that I’ve felt with a release. I had a crystal-clear vision for this record and I pieced it together with many amazing co-writers and co-producers.
There was little to no compromising. In the past, I’ve felt I needed to hold back a bit, or tame the unique, quirky qualities in my voice, all the while knowing if they just let me do my thing, however gritty and raw as it may be, the more original it would be. I’m proud of all my albums, but this one hits my core on so many levels.
TS: “Strange World” is an absolute gem for fans of your harmonies and backing vocals. When laying this track down, what was the first component you recorded?
R: Thank you. We recorded guitar first, which was played by producer Rob Kleiner. I added all the harmonies last. I get so stoked when I can lay a bunch of harmonies down and layer or stack them almost choir style.
It’s therapeutic for me to try and match exactly what I’ve done and make a solid blend of so many voices. I wrote this song with Rob and one of my good friends Clare Reynolds. It’s all about finding the beauty in a relationship, amongst the chaos.
TS: Later in the record, you treat us with “Broken Record.” Do you wish the organ was used a bit more in popular music than it is now?
R: You can tell I’m a fan of the good ‘ol farfisa, huh? Yes, I love the organ and those sweet ‘60s sounds it brings ... ‘ala ‘96 Tears, or Joe Cocker’s version of “Have a Little Help From My Friends.” I make sure to incorporate organ in a lot of my tunes and actually made my debut playing keyboards on multiple tracks for this album.
TS: Since “Lo-Fi Soul,” you released “Bulletproof” in June. Are you a proponent of holding music for full-length records or moreso releasing it whenever feels right?
R: I’ve always been an album, full-body-of-work-kind-of girl. But I’m growing with the times and I think it’s neat nowadays to create different projects right around each other and keep pumping out content, from singles, EPs, features, to full length albums. So long as music is still a thing, I’ll keep releasing it.
TS: Do you remember where you were when you decided to record your rendition of “It Ain’t Over Til’ It’s Over?”
R: I teamed up with a company that wanted to pitch this three-song EP to TV shows. I picked “It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over” because I’ve always dug that tune. It’s so ‘70s, although it was recorded much later. I like stripping great tunes down and making them all the more intimate. It goes to show a great song is a great song, no matter what kind of backing track.
TS: Since we last spoke about your friend and former drummer Anderson .Paak, he secured the 2019 Grammy for Best Rap Performance with “Bubblin’.” Does his story give your current band members –– and drummer –– some added motivation?
R: I am so happy for Anderson. He’s been grinding in this industry for a long time and he truly deserves it all. I love blowing people’s minds when he comes up in conversation and telling them he used to drum in my first band I put together in LA. Hoping we can collaborate someday. I know we’d blend like butter on toast.
TS: You touch down at Babeville on Oct. 13. Your good friend Casey Abrams made an appearance at the venue in 2018. Do you think previous performers add to a venue’s energy?
R: I definitely think a room can hold energy, even years down the line. More than anything, it’s up to us as the artist and audience to tap into the history of the venue and who’s played it. Some venues have that crazy electricity in the air that you can almost grasp it’s so dense. Glad Casey came through as well.
TS: What do you hope students who drop by the show can take away from it?
R: I hope students can feel confident in their own skin, free of judgement and unabashedly themselves as soon as they enter the room and even after they leave the show that night. I want to create such an intimate experience we can all share together, forever. “Lo-Fi Soul” taps into all the colors of who I am and all of my influences along the way. I hope that rubs off on the crowd and everyone can simply feel good.
Brenton Blanchet is the editor-in-chief and can be reached at Brenton.Blanchet@ubspectrum.com and on Twitter @BrentonBlanchet.
Brenton J. Blanchet is the 2019-20 editor-in-chief of The Spectrum. His work has appeared in Billboard, Clash Magazine, DJBooth, PopCrush, The Face and more. Ask him about Mariah Carey.