EditorialInterviews

Interview: HALIENE Reveals Her Trailblazing Vision As A Vocalist

Known for her radiating voice and soul-stirring lyrical storytelling, HALIENE is easily one of the most iconic vocalists in the world of dance music.

While DJs and producers typically take the lion’s share of the spotlight in this industry, Kelly Sweet aka HALIENE established a name for herself as a vocalist right alongside big-name producers like Seven Lions and Gareth Emery, with whom she features many well-known collaborations.

In addition to these highly successful collaborations, HALIENE is also carving her own path in the industry. In an interview with EDM Maniac, HALIENE shares the story behind her new deluxe album  Heavenly while opening up about her personal journey and future vision.

EDM Maniac: Hi Kelly, thanks for joining us, we’re excited to hear your story! 

HALIENE: Hi thanks for having me!

EDM Maniac: So you began as a vocalist over ten years ago. What drew you to electronic music?

HALIENE: I was in the pop genre for a while. I signed my first record deal when I was 17 and I released a soft pop album. I later realized that I had really evolved as an artist and that this wasn’t the kind of music I wanted to be making.

My love was for electronic music. I actually went to a music festival with some friends during a really dark time in my life. I had lost my record deal cuz they didn’t understand the direction I wanted to go and unfortunately lost both my parents to cancer and just felt really alone in the world. 

 It opened my eyes to this community and I felt like I had found a home. I saw all these DJs up there crushing it but no singers on stage and I was like “where are the singers?” So I thought to myself “I think I belong here.” 

EDM Maniac: Stylistically, what makes songwriting as a dance music vocalist different than writing for other genres?

HALIENE: I would absolutely say that there is a learning curve to writing dance songs. I’ve helped a lot of other vocalists and songwriters out and they tend to dumb down their artistry and make it a watered-down version of themselves.

I’m always pushing them because you can still be you as an artist when you’re writing for a DJ, but it’s almost like you have to put on their world as well as your own when you’re writing this song.

A good example for me is Seven Lions and the songs I’ve written with him. As I wrote on his tracks, I could see his world long before he had his amazing visuals.

Melodically, you’re always thinking about the drop and how we’re going into the drop. With dance music, it always has to fit into the dynamic that will work within whatever the track is going to be. 

EDM Maniac: How do you create and maintain that intimate sense of connection that your music is so well known for with your audience when you perform for thousands of people?

HALIENE: I think as a performer when you are willing to be vulnerable in the way that you sing and express yourself, it invites people in and that naturally feels intimate to them.

It creates an atmosphere in which they feel safe and their emotions can come to the surface. On stage, I am using my hand motions and stuff like that in big audiences to bring them in and make it feel like a big family.

It takes time to pull people in, but when I’m only doing one song like at EDC‘s Kinetic field when I did “Horizon” and “Long Way Home” with Tritonal. You just have to feel like you’re singing to your family even when it’s 60-70,000 people. 

EDM Maniac: Your lyrics are always very heartfelt and moving, what would you say is the most prevalent theme or message you share in your music?

HALIENE: I say going within and getting comfortable with uncomfortable emotions. A lot of that has to do with love and I think love is the most powerful force in the world.

I think also it comes back to being truthful in your writing and that’s what I love to write about. I have experienced a lot of loss in my life, saying goodbye to my parents at such an early age, and I’ve written a lot of songs about that.

Writing songs about that has helped me heal and I get so many messages from people who say those songs have also helped them heal. So the goal for me, honestly, is to write songs that help my fans and listeners let these songs express the emotions that they maybe couldn’t find the words to say. 

EDM Maniac: This past year you dropped your debut album, Heavenly, and your deluxe edition was released on March 24. What was behind the decision to drop a deluxe version and what do you want fans to take away from this new edition? 

HALIENE: Part of my original music is the remixes; we’ve always thought of those two things as connected because as a singer-artist, I’m not completely reliant on the sound of the track.

My songs have the ability to live in many genres at once or to be played on different stages at EDC. That’s always been my goal —to write songs that can transcend genres within dance music.

It’s really special that I can be featured on producers’ tracks and then they are remixing my tracks. To me, it’s all collaborations at the end of the day. 

EDM Maniac: What advice would you give to aspiring dance music vocalists?

HALIENE: The path is long and you must keep going. You have to just keep going and understand there are sacrifices that are sometimes worth it.

Sometimes we deal with really crappy contracts or people treating us very poorly and you have to always ask: “What am I going to gain out of this at the end of the day and is it going to be worth it?” 

 

Danielle Levy contributed to this interview.

Images provided by HALIENE.

Written by
Federica Brandi

Hi! I'm Federica, I'm a writer, world traveler, and above all, I'm a dance music lover. The communities, culture, history and free expression I've encountered through raving and the world of EDM inspire me to explore the scene far and wide and to share all the stories I encounter along the way. If you see me at a show come say hi and trade kandi!

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