How does the music you make contribute to dialogue about work and labour, feminism or social justice?

It is questions like this that bring tears to my eyes. I’ve always felt incredibly interested in raising up the voices of women, including my own. From a young age I was often told I was ‘too loud’. My exuberant, booming voice and persona always seemed as if they were too much for the rest of the world. So in my life I sought out destructive ways to tone myself down.

I dealt with a ten year-long eating disorder, on and off depression and suicidal thoughts. It took me a lot of time and support to make myself healthy again. On my road to recovery I saw many therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, doctors, went to group therapy and eventually a two month day program at Toronto General Hospital (TGH). One of the last things that helped me kick the can was my voice teacher. She is trained in something called laryngal posturing, where she messages the muscles surrounding the larynx and voice box in order to free the voice and retrain our bodies to engage the right muscles while using our voice. I shared everything with her. She became my teacher, my mother, my therapist and my support. She understood me.

One day she said to me “Piper, isn’t it interesting that the very things you chose to engage in (bulimia), subconsciously or otherwise, not only made you physically smaller, but also reduced your ability to make sound?” See when you throw up all the time, your tongue and muscles in your throat get very tight. If the tongue is very tight than we are limited as to what sounds we can produce. She followed up with “Piper you always felt you were too much, this was your way of making yourself safe. You were young and you didn’t feel safe. Your decision (conscious or not) to be bulimic was a smart one, it was your way of protecting yourself. Eventually the negative detriment of such acts outweighed the positive, and that is where we are now, figuring out healthy ways to feel safe.” I had never thought I was smart for being bulimic, I always wondered what was wrong with me. I came from a loving family and always had ‘enough’, so this information gave me a new framework for my illness. It allowed me to fully explore the reclaiming of myself and in turn my voice became something to live for.

To me this was the revelation I needed and as a result I want to spread it far and wide. I want to empower women, men, and trans alike. Misogyny affects us all negatively. I want to share my story and create opportunity for others to share theirs. Music has the power to heal. Learning how to use our voices in a healthy way is probably one of the most positive things we can do for ourselves. Communication and connection are basic needs for humans.

The music industry, like all industries I imagine, is a place where I constantly have to prove myself because I am a woman. I won’t take that lying down anymore, and I want to support whoever else out there needs it. The only way to create change is through unity. I will always use my music as a way to connect and create awareness.

I used to run competitively, people would ask me about who inspired me, when I studied musical theatre people would ask who would you like to emulate, and now I’m a musician and people ask me who where your influences…Well for me it’s always been simple, I am inspired by healers, not professions. I am inspired by those who take their platform and spread light, and now I aspire to be this person.

Piper Hayes