Cliché: You fell in love with music at a pretty dark time in your life, while you were very sick. What did music mean to you in those moments in the hospital?
Haven: Music was my healer when I was in the hospital. I went from being super involved with athletics and playing every sport that was available in my town to being too weak to walk to the bathroom, stuck in a hospital bed. The only thing that was left for me was music. It was my getaway and writing music took my mind off of being sick. I remember towards the end of my illness I was at the Mayo clinic meeting with my doctor and I wanted to bring my guitar so I could sing for my doctor. My superhero mom pushed me in my wheelchair and carried my guitar on her back all the way through the Mayo Clinic, just so I could sing for the doctors during my appointment. It wouldn’t matter how sick I felt, when I sang the pain disappeared for a moment. It gave me something to be passionate about during that time. I remember when I was starting to get better and started doing shows again, I would have fevers or be puking on the way to a gig, but once I was on stage it would all subside. I was just consumed in the music and the feeling of performing. I loved it. An amazing local family, sent me and my family on a trip to Nashville as a gift. That trip is what set me on fire & made me want to pursue music permanently. I am forever thankful for that trip and the family who made it happen. Once I was better, my parents asked me if I wanted to start getting involved with sports again and I told them I wanted to focus on music. So they helped me start booking shows, I started doing around 100 dates a year, and it went from there. I’m so thankful I had the gift of music to carry me through that tough time in my life.
What is POTS Syndrome? What do you wish more people understood about it?
POTS Syndrome is Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome. The hardest thing for me was that no doctors in my area even knew what POTS was. I stayed at two different hospitals in my area and had teams of doctors testing and studying me. No one could figure out what was wrong with me so they labeled it as a “mystery illness”. I was put on the failure to thrive list and sent to the Mayo Clinic. I feel like POTS is labeled as the “illness that makes you dizzy”, but no one understands that it also caused acute pancreatitis, which came with attacks that only going to the hospital could stop. My digestive system wouldn’t work, my body temperature wouldn’t regulate, my liver was trash, I became allergic to all my pets, my vision went blurry, pretty much nothing in my body was working correctly. It was really scary. It’s often hard to diagnose because each patient has a different experience with it.
Why did you decide to move to Nashville at just 12 years old?
I was absolutely in love with Nashville! Once I started performing regularly, I used my gig money to fly to Nashville once a month to take meetings and do writing sessions.
You started touring the country at 15 with well-known country acts like Thomas Rhett, Lady Antebellum, Toby Keith and Hunter Hayes. What did you learn from being on tour? What was it like getting to work with such musical icons?
I am so thankful to have had those experiences. I learned a lot about performing and I got to meet so many new people. Doing those dates was a dream come true. Looking back on those shows I realize how blessed I was to have had those opportunities. I am forever grateful!
How did you first become interested in pop music? What motivated you to make the leap from country to pop?
Growing up in Moville, Iowa the majority of the music I listened to was country music. I wasn’t exposed to that much pop until I moved to Nashville. Once I started listening to more pop it opened up a whole new world of music and melodies for me. Over time the songs I was writing started leaning more towards pop. I knew I wanted to do pop but everyone around me was in the country music business, so I felt kind of lost. Last April my publishing company sent me on a writing trip to LA and I did a week full of pop sessions. The pop melodies flowed out of me so naturally that I knew this was the music I was supposed to be making. My publisher introduced me to my now manager Brian Teefey on that LA trip. Long story short, Brian started helping me transition to pop and developing me as an artist. So now about a year and a half later we’re finally getting ready to release the music and I couldn’t be more excited! I’m so thankful for the team I have around me.
Talk about your new single, “Swimming In Your Feelings.”
I’m so excited for “Swimming In Your Feelings” to be out November 1st! I’ve been writing for this project almost every day for the past year and a half, so to finally start sharing all of my work is incredibly exciting for me. I wrote “Swimming In Your Feelings” about a year ago. It was when I first started making trips to LA. Long story short.. I dated an LA boy, we broke up, and I wrote a song about it. I feel like most of us have felt like we’re swimming in somebody’s feelings at some point. Even though it’s technically a breakup song, I wanted it to still feel like a jam and not just another sad song. So I hope y’all turn it up and enjoy it!
How do you handle swimming in your feelings? What helps you feel better?
Honestly the best thing to do when I feel like I’m swimming in someone’s feelings is to write about it. I’m so thankful to have an artistic outlet that allows me to blow off steam and get my feelings out through music. It’s like my punching bag haha.
You’re also involved in a lot of philanthropic work such as supporting charities for childhood cancer. Would you say your own experience with childhood illness influenced your passion for children’s health?
Yes, 100%. I was hospitalized a lot when I was younger and I know how it feels to wake up to blood work, tests every morning, procedures, not being able to walk, and being stuck in a bed when you just want to be running outside. No kid should have to experience a childhood illness and it breaks my heart to see any kid and family go through that. I started becoming involved with The Rally Foundation for kids with cancer in Nashville around 13yrs old. When I sang at those events to help raise money, I learned that only 4% of federal government cancer research is going to studying pediatric cancer, which I find unacceptable. I’ve met so many incredible, smart, beautiful kids and it breaks my heart to see a child going through any type of illness.
You’re a firm believer in the power of music therapy! What are the benefits?
Yes! I personally I went through a childhood illness and I discovered the healing power of music. Being able to write how I was feeling into a song was something that I truly believe helped me mentally handle what was going on. When I was singing or playing guitar I truly felt no pain because I was so consumed in the music.
Read more Music Interviews at ClicheMag.com
Haven Dishes on LA Romance in New Single, “Swimming In Your Feelings.” Photo Credit: Storm Santos.