Hayley Mary has had a lot of pressure on her lately.
We're talking literally, by the way – the singer-songwriter is fresh from an intensive acupuncture session when she takes this interview. "There's this guy I go to in Sydney who is just amazing," Mary says – now a Melbourne resident.
"Because I don't live here anymore, I don't get to see him all that often – so whenever I do, I'm under the needles for like three hours! It's quite the purge."
Now settled in at a nearby cafe, Mary is ready to talk shop on 'The Drip' – her second solo EP, collating seven tracks from across the last year or so.
The original plan was to forge a full studio album, although that idea fell through once it became clear that touring would remain a great uncertainty for a time yet. "I didn't want to overload too early, y'know?," she says.
"You've just gotta shift with the times these days. We ultimately felt it wasn't the right time for my debut album – there's no overseas opportunities, and there aren't even so many Australian ones.
"You obviously want your debut album to be special, so that's why we've held off. Not that these songs aren't special, mind you. They definitely are, but they'll just have to exist in this EP capacity – and that's alright."
'The Drip' is the latest endeavour in establishing Hayley Mary as; well, Hayley Mary. Just her, with no suffix attached, ie. 'Hayley Mary from The Jezabels'.
Finding her own sound as a solo artist was not an overnight discovery for Mary. "You're just on that gradual burn; that gradual build-up, starting again from scratch pretty much," she says.
"It's been really fun to start again – building up the live band, doing more writing, building up my sound.
"I was soul-searching for a long time – trying different things with different producers all around the world, stabbing in the dark and finding things that just weren't right. I had to really work to claw my way out of the box I'd been placed in."
Her live shows are now composed entirely of songs from her first EP, 2020's 'The Piss The Perfume', unreleased new solo material and the occasional cover for good measure – The Libertines' 'Can't Stand Me Now' was added to the repertoire last year, and no doubt future shows will include her Like A Version rendition of Lana Del Rey's 'Chemtrails Over The Country Club'.
Her previous band aren't touched upon musically, or generally even mentioned – and, thankful as she is for the decade she spent at its helm, that's how Mary prefers it. "I definitely feel like there's a difference," she says.
"There's not a huge crossover of people who used to come and see The Jezabels and people who come and see me now. I've definitely met a couple of people who've been through that long journey through my early days of performing.
"There's people coming to my shows now, though, that have never heard of – and some that didn't even like – The Jezabels. Kind of to my relief, they're taking up the majority in my audience.
"You don't really want to be resting on your laurels – you want to make that breakthrough."
Said shows have also undergone several changes in both medium and execution. Mary has gone through several backing band iterations, with her current line-up all based in Melbourne, while also performing in duo mode with DMA'S Jonny Took, and stripping it all the way back to playing solo with just her and a guitar.
Whether there's one person or six up onstage, Mary believes the songs still translate just as well. "I think a big part of why it's not too difficult to jump into any of those kinds of environments is just because of the way the songs have come about," she says.
"They are kind of traditional singer-songwriter songs, and they work with just a guitar because they weren't forged in some kind of laptop world and then rest on all this production.
"There is big rock production on the record, and I love it, but like 90 per cent of the time it's going to work how it was written. It feels really natural, regardless of how the songs are being played."
Following the EP's release, Mary will play a handful of shows in support of it. Among them are a support slot for Tyne-James Organ in Brisbane and an appearance at Byron Music Festival
– the latter of which is notable given Mary is from there originally.
She isn't, however, one of the many north-coast natives protesting the upcoming Netflix series Byron Baes. "I think it's absolutely hilarious," she says. "You reap what you sow, man!"'The Drip' EP is released 18 June.
Hayley Mary 2021 Tour Dates
Fri 18 Jun - The Zoo (Brisbane)
* supporting Tyne-James OrganSat 19 Jun - Byron Music Festival (Byron Bay)Sun 29 Aug - Sweetfest 2021 (Geelong)
* solo showSat 11 Dec - Festival Of The Sun (Port Macquarie)