Haley Holgate chats new single ‘A Good Feminist’ and “the heart of songwriting”

“I hope the song inspires listeners to own their own flaws,” Haley Holgate says of her just-released debut single A Good Feminist.  

Some album rollouts just feel different. For Sydney-based singer Haley Holgate, it wasn’t enough to release a debut single so confident in its sound and storytelling you’d think it was the work of an indie-pop veteran, she also had to follow it up with an equally masterful music video. And that’s exactly what she’s done.

While the video has yet to officially grace the airwaves (trust us, you’ll want to tune in), the single itself is enough to satiate appetites in the meantime.

Haley Holgate single 'A Bad Feminist'

Released today (October 6), the shimmering debut flits between acoustic balladry and synth-laden dream pop, as anchored by Holgate’s incisive and diaristic storytelling.

Fresh off the release of A Good Feminist, and with the official music video set for release later this month, we caught up with Haley Holgate for a deep-dive into her artistry, what it means to be a feminist, and her quest to “kick aside the notion that you have to do everything perfectly to make a difference in the world.” 

Haley Holgate single 'A Bad Feminist'

Catch our full interview with Haley Holgate below, and scroll down to listen to her just-released debut single A Good Feminist. 

HAPPY: Tell us about where you are from? What’s the scene like in your neck of the woods?

HALEY: Hello! I’m from the Northern Beaches, I’ve lived here my whole life and it’s been a really special place to grow up. There’s so much natural beauty around that has inspired me creatively.

The music scene here is quite small, but we’ve had some incredible artists like Angus and Julia Stone, CXLOE, Chris Lanzon, Eagle Eye Jones and Loretta (I could go on forever) come out of here and make some crazy stuff.

HAPPY: Describe an average day?

HALEY: An average day for me would look like waking up with a tea and doing some writing, playing around on guitar for a couple hours, making some yummy dinner and settling in with a good classic book for the evening.

Haley Holgate single 'A Bad Feminist'

HAPPY: A Good Feminist challenges stereotypes of what a feminist is meant to look and act like. What motivated you to create this powerful anthem, and how do you hope it will impact listeners?

HALEY: I wrote this song last year when I was grappling with the idea of what it meant to be a feminist, and how I could feel comfortable calling myself one through all of the non-feminist things I do.

In the song I talk about how I struggle to love myself, how when I see a spider I call my brother to come over and take it outside, and how I let the men I’m in love with treat me badly.

I felt fraudulent at the time to identify as a feminist, and I wrote the song to kick aside the notion that you have to do everything perfectly to make a difference in the world.

I hope the song inspires listeners to own their own flaws and helps them realise that they are capable of creating change even if they don’t feel powerful or strong.


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HAPPY: Can you share how personal experiences shape your songwriting process, and how you transform them into the captivating melodies we hear in your music?

HALEY: My personal experiences are at the heart of my songwriting. Nothing is really off the table for me to write about, and I use music to help process the experiences in my personal life.

Most of the time when something happens in my life or I’ve had an idea floating around in my head, a few months later I’ll pick up my guitar and a song will pour out of me quite naturally all in one go. As for the melodies, they come from some emotive place after the lyrics – the more I try to force them the worse they are usually.


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HAPPY: Collaborating with Xavier Dunn, known for his work in Australian Indie-Pop, must have been an exciting experience. How did this partnership influence the sound and production of A Good Feminist?

HALEY: The track wouldn’t be what it is today without Xavier’s production wizardry. Before we got in the studio I sent him the demo of the song which was just an acoustic voice memo, and over a day we developed the punky, grungy soundscapes and arrangements of the band.

When he suggested that we add some orchestral instruments like the Call-Me-Maybe-esque violins and trombones in the second chorus I started to get really excited. I am so in love with the final product, and it’s because of Xavier’s touches and commitment to his craft.

HAPPY: Your music is often associated with the genre of wistful indie-pop. Could you tell us about some of the artists or influences that have played a significant role in shaping your musical style?

HALEY: For the past few years the key artists I’ve been inspired by, and who have shaped my sound into what it is, have been Phoebe Bridgers, Billie Eilish, Lizzy McAlpine, and Julia Jacklin.

These women don’t shy away from vulnerability and have created such distinct and intentional worlds with their music and artistry, they challenge me to be as bold in my own journey.

HAPPY: What is your perspective on the role of music in advocating for social change and addressing important issues, particularly in relation to feminism and gender equality?

HALEY: Music has always had an important part in social change and addressing important issues – it’s apart of what makes art so powerful.

We have so many incredible female artists that are celebrated across the world today that have done so much for gender equality and have empowered women everywhere.

I’d love to see this permeate more into our own industry, where there is still quite an imbalance of male workers across all sectors, and especially in the music production side of music.


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HAPPY: Can you share any details about upcoming projects or what we can expect from your musical journey in the near future?

I can’t share anything specific at the moment, but I will say that this single is only the first of what is to come over the next few months :)

HAPPY: Lastly, what makes you happy?

HALEY: There are so many things that make me happy – spending time with my friends and family, making music and collaborating with other musicians, good food, good literature, and good music to name a few.