Sarah Elizabeth Haines Reaches Out to Reconnect with “In the Morning” Video

Photo Credit: John Carluccio

As a frequent touring musician, singer-songwriter Sarah Elizabeth Haines struggled to balance a professional and personal life. The seed for her new song “In the Morning” had burrowed into her mind, inspired by several “failed relationship attempts,” and eventually, its reflected lyrics offered her the space to “remind myself of some of the parts of long distance dating that weren’t actually too terrible.”

“It can be fun and exciting to miss someone, and to feel that longing of a relationship that’s young and tender and that you want to nurture,” Haines says. “You just don’t necessarily want that to be the great majority of the relationship or it starts to feel like a fantasy you’re making.”

“In the morning light everything would be alright/If you were here with me,” she hums over bouncing drums. “Every time that you’re around/Be it alone or in a crowd/You’re the only one I see.”

The music video premieres today on Audiofemme and finds Haines collaborating with long-time friend and director John Carluccio. “He and I did a few photo shoots out in Joshua Tree early this year, and we spent a lot of time talking about how we both were trying to hone our creative visions as artists and what that meant for each of us, individually, and there was already a lot of crossover there,” Haines explains.

After discussing how best to bring the song to life, the creative process itself was as organic as it could be. A strong level of trust had already formed between them; Haines even let Carluccio “choose which of the singles he wanted to work on, and then he sent me a few treatments,” she says. “We decided to go for this dreamy sort of David Lynch-inspired flashback sequence, and I’m so thrilled with the way it turned out.”

“In the Morning” comes on the heels of “Water,” both samplings to Haines’ forthcoming new record, Castaway, due February 25, 2022. Admittedly, the latest offering is “probably the least intense song on the record in many ways, but that’s exactly why I love the space it does take up,” she says of its placement on the LP.

Castaway deals in many themes, and among its central concepts is “how we as people, and I think, as female artists especially, are often expected to present ourselves in a neat little easily digestible box so that people always know exactly what to expect from us,” she says, “but that’s so far from anyone’s actual experience in the world. We all have messy, complicated, sometimes even contradictory feelings all the time; we find ourselves loving someone who’s hurt us or resenting someone who loves us or full of regret or making up an ideal of someone who doesn’t really exist the way that you want them to when you look at them in the light of day.”

“Sometimes we just need a mirror — and sometimes we’re allowed to just be gentle and loving and hopeful,” she adds. And that’s the vantage point from which “In the Morning” is delivered, an almost celestial performance emanating warm lavender.

But the song, ironically, sprouted and grew under intense conditions. In pre-pandemic days, Haines was well-equipped in spending long stretches of time without family or friends. Looking back, it took remarkable self-reliance to paddle through her days. “At certain points on tour, I definitely let the pendulum swing a little too far in the other direction of trying to convince myself I was fine being out on my own. That’s not to say that I’ve been completely cut off from friends—I’ve made some really great, lasting friendships on tour too—it’s just sort of like a weird traveling circus where you see each other every day anyway at work.”

When the pandemic hit, those feelings were further amplified. She eventually learned what it meant to simply exist in stillness, but it took time. “I wasn’t even moving around or working really at all so there were absolutely no distractions,” she says. “I definitely came out of that with a better understanding of myself and a greater sense of peace in stillness than I’ve ever had before. It also taught me that it’s really not so hard to pick up the phone and call someone just to say hello, and I’ve definitely been doing that a lot more recently.”

Such reflections evolved into deep inner work, and as a result, she unlocked her “own power” and now embraces “the messiness of being a human being” in ways she never imagined. “In spending so much time with myself, I found that there’s so much there that deserves to be nurtured, and that if you don’t crush yourself over your mistakes, they’ll end up being more fertile soil for growth.”

This inward journey soon cast ripples into her work, as well. “I learned a lot of new skills during the pandemic out of necessity. I ended up engineering part of my own record and co-producing on it,” she explains. She linked up with co-producer Kevin Salem during lockdown and began ironing out preliminary album details.

Aside from her solo work, Haines plays viola and violin as part of the touring company of Hamilton, as well as with chamber group Contemporaneous. When the world slowly opened up again earlier this year, the singer-songwriter was most surprised by how quickly she was able to settle back into the pre-pandemic routine.

“The first few shows back [for Hamilton] were a wild rush, absolutely, and it’s amazing to feel connected to an audience again,” she says. “But I do think at the end of the day, when you’ve played the same thing almost 900 times (it’s already been over 100 shows since I’ve been back), and since we’re in the pit so we’re generally hidden from most of the audience, it’s just refreshing to feel like it’s something almost completely normal.”

Solo shows are another matter, though. “The few solo shows I have played since the pandemic have definitely been a different story,” she concludes. “It’s like I’m learning to walk all over again in certain ways, and a bit of the performance anxiety that I had mostly gotten over in previous years has returned ever so slightly, but it’s been incredibly exhilarating after such a long time without.”

Follow Sarah Elizabeth Haines on Instagram for ongoing updates.

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