Haley Dahl of Sloppy Jane has launched a Go Fund Me campaign in an attempt to raise $20,000 to eat her own suit. You can donate to the campaign here. Every contribution of $30 will earn you a custom shirt. It’s almost like she’s goading us, seeing if we have the balls to contribute to this “madness”. Is it really mad though? As wild as Haley’s music is, is her mind just as out of this world? The intimate and potent answers she provided herein paint a different picture than what I assumed going in. Her realness and openness to speak about her experiences and emotions made this interview something any artist could be inspired by. Read for yourself and you’ll see, she walks the walk and talks the talk.
With a new album in the works, Haley also discussed her ambitions of recording inside a cave with 30 musicians. As far as making dreams like these come true, Haley has a good track record, so be expecting something very special coming soon.
RS: Tell me about your favorite suit. How did you acquire it? What brand is it? What material is it made of? If you’ve ever tried it, how does it taste?
HD: The suit I found in October 2017. It was the morning and I, all at once, experienced an avalanche of extreme sadness that was uncontainable. I was talking to someone who I had once loved and I was sobbing in the street, and at the height of this I looked over and saw an oversized black suit hanging on a gate. I put it on, and with tears streaming down my face, I told this person that I would wear it until it rotted off my body. I later added a caveat that if I couldn’t wear it that long, that I would one day have to eat it. And that’s where we’re at.
I don’t actually know the brand, I’d have to get up and look. It’s made of suit material? Like a businessman’s suit. I have never tasted it. But I assume it tastes like a year of time.
RS: A medical professional advised you not to wear the suit anymore or it may cause health problems, what health problems were you at risk of?
HD: In the Summer of 2018, I sold my eggs. This process lasts for about a month and a half and culminates in a small surgery. I would wake up every morning and take two trains uptown and would get my blood taken, and would get a pelvic exam. Every night I would sit down and inject my thighs or stomach with hormones to make me grow more eggs. The hormones made me gain 20 pounds in 2 weeks and my uterus grew so large that it compressed my other organs and made it hard to breathe, and I would get chest pains if I walked more than a few blocks without stopping. The drugs made me totally emotionally unbearable–I was constantly sobbing and had to alienate myself from everyone I knew in order to not wreck my relationships. During all of this, I was wearing the suit, and had been for almost a year, and it was very visibly decaying and had a pretty loud smell. I was a really ugly picture.
One day, the doctors pulled me into an office and expressed very serious concern for my health. They had noticed the suit and said to me that because of everything getting shoved in my arms and my pelvis, and the upcoming surgery, the suit was putting me at very high risk for infection, and that they would not follow through with the harvestation process if I continued to wear this terrible poem, and that I would make no money.
I took it off for the remainder of the process. I made 10,000 dollars, the day after the surgery, I put it back on. My friends and I drove to the woods to look for an abandoned mine, and got lost in the rain in the trees. In February, my son was born, somewhere, maybe.
RS: Are you one bit afraid to eat your own suit? How will you prepare it? What do you imagine will be the aftermath?
HD: I’m not afraid at all, the idea of it being gone makes me a little sad, but I think it’s time.
I imagine I’ll have to go to the hospital.
RS: How did you feel when you wore it? How does that feeling differ from when you’re in your blue velvet suit, pants, and boots on stage?
HD: Well, the blue velvet suit is a caricature of the Forever Suit. Same goes for the blue bikini- a cartoonish representation of the non-clothes I wore at the strip club and on stage.
To wear the suit for a year was a burden and an honor. The idea was I guess to freeze myself in a moment of emotional potency and to fester inside it for as long as I possibly could, to see what would happen. The day I put it on I became sober and began writing my record. It was an emblem of commitment to a new time in my life, and reminded me constantly to be honest and to be disciplined. I was stripped of vanity and almost everything else I previously had defined myself by–especially living somewhere where people didn’t really know me yet.
It became nightmarish- and this was part of the challenge, to stick with it when it stopped being a conversation piece and started being alienating. I felt a lack of femininity and a sexlessness that was sometimes really empowering and sometimes made me feel hideous, but that did force me to confront the price tag I had stuck on my ability to look like an object. Watching people move on with their lives in a million different ways, while I sat in the suit, was probably the hardest part.
I learned a great deal of discipline from this period of time, and even though the suit is gone, I’ll be wearing it forever, which is what makes consuming it necessary.
RS: How has your style developed as far as the clothes you wear? What inspires you, if anything, to look the way you do?
HD: The entire time I’ve been alive I’ve been a very loud dresser– from wearing costumes in elementary school to being goth in middle school to walking around literally naked in a velvet robe to events in LA in early adulthood. After the suit though, I really struggled to figure out dressing myself. I had forgotten what clothes I related to and my body had changed, as bodies do, during the time I wore it, and it took me a minute to learn what I liked or what to wear all over again. I’m getting a handle though. I like to wear…suits mostly.
RS: Your artistry, presentation, and performance seem to always be evolving. What do you do with the old Sloppy Jane’s/Haley Dahl’s once you move on? Are they still inside you? Do changes in your art take the form of a hard reset or upward growth?
HD: A little of both- because I work with kind of extreme formats, usually a hard-reset is necessary in order to pull off something new, structurally. As far as the ideas go, I feel like I’ve been building on the same concepts since I was fifteen. I grow up, and they grow up too.
RS: You’ve begun the process of creating your next album which you plan to record in a cave with 30 musicians. What do you think that environment will inspire? Does physical discomfort act as a motivator for your art?
HD: I feel like this is a good moment for me to address something important: being innovative does not make me insane, a masochist, or even avant garde. What I am doing is continuing the infinite tradition of expanding the boundaries of music, which is in no way countercultural if you think about literally anything that has been historically important. We are living in the first period of time where the technology is available to make an album of music in a cave, and so that is what I’m doing. My motivations and inspirations are the same as everyone else’s: wanderlust, loneliness, grief, love, growing up, etcetera– but I do believe it is our job to over and over again find new ways to say the same things or else they lose their meaning.
I am interested not in “discomfort”, which I can easily find in my house, but in high stakes that challenge my ability to make every decision about what everything will sound like before recording it. I live a charmed life, in a time where we have infinite ability to try again in a studio or in our homes. This process won’t be that way, once we pack up and leave, we won’t be able to go back and change anything, which is scary. But there is so much emotional drain-circling in the time of the internet, and it is relieving to be involved with something that has a definitive end.
RS: When you decide to make new music do you begin with a vision for what the whole piece will be? Does this vision include narrative? What do you credit more, the original vision or the things you discover during the recording process that become part of the finished album?
HD: I think I make things from a few different angles. Not everything I ever make serves a large vision– but a lot of it does. I still see myself as someone who is figuring out what my process is, so it’s hard to speak to an always. So far though, I like to come up with a large concept and narrative and kind of structure it out and then write in a semi-paint by numbers way. This first draft is weak, but it establishes the arc of the piece, and then over time I write things that contain more meaning and are a little better that can replace their initial placeholders- and the entire thing slowly stops being made of cardboard and becomes something that can breathe. Usually it changes a lot of times, but winds up close to where it started conceptually.
RS:What instruments will you be playing on the album? Are there any instruments you haven’t used previously you plan to experiment with?
HD: It’s a mish-mosh, but the bulk of it is piano, strings, and brass. A lot of vocals. Rock instruments are used sparingly and in a really specific manner. A lot of these instruments are sort of new to me! Even though I’ve written for some of them now, for such a large group, it is new.
RS: Every period of your music is so unique that people wonder what’s going on in your mind, can you describe it?
HD: When you listen to the music, or watch the live show, you are looking right at what’s going on in my mind! That’s it that’s really all there is!
RS: You seem open about discussing heartbreak and emotional pain, why? Do you consider yourself sensitive?
HD: That’s a tough one, I think I’m pretty direct, and I do think that to be “in show business” is to provide catharsis for the people watching, meaning I think it is the noble thing to do to scream and bleed all over everything so people remember that they can.
Sometimes I get creeped out and feel like I only feel three things: 1. Wanting something 2. Being glad I got something I wanted 3. Being frustrated that I did not.
I wouldn’t say that I’m insensitive, but I’d say that I often forget to engage with people emotionally because of being caught up in my own stuff. If I feel something big, I usually channel it directly into what I make, which is cool because it has to place a live, but maybe sometimes is less productive than just telling someone how I feel.