Underrated Artist: Hailaker

Image Credit: Michaelabustamantefg on Pixabay

Hailaker is the kind of music a partner recommends to you the night before they dump you.

It’s a sad boy aphrodisiac that never shies away from the pain and discomfort born from loss. If you’re a fan of Bon Iver and Passenger, you’ll connect with Hailaker’s music. The artistic project began in 2019 and is helmed by multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter Ed Tullett (alias Lowswimmer) and Bristol-based artist Jemima Coulter. This collaboration birthed an ambitious and disorienting sound that keeps you running on the knife edge of your own emotions. 

So far Hailaker have produced two albums: Hailaker, released in 2019, and Holding, released in 2020. The performers are credited as Jemima Coulter, Lowsimmer and Hailaker. At first glance the anarchic crediting does not seem to have a subliminal meaning. However, the overlap and overlay of the artists names with their stage names is intentional. Crediting each of these separately could imply that the different elements that make up each of these people and acts were involved throughout the process of making the albums at different times. 

Hailaker isn’t just a musical collaboration between two artists, but an all-encompassing artistic expression through different mediums

Hailaker isn’t just a musical collaboration between two artists, but an all-encompassing artistic expression through different mediums including visual art. Mike Roth designs the album cover art and manages the visual expression of Hailaker as a collective. As such, Hailaker is just as inspired by Mike Roth’s artwork. Listening to Hailaker is a complete sensory experience that, if you’re synesthetic, can feel like threads of your personhood are unraveling as you’re torn between old-school and contemporary musical influences. 

The ninth track of their first album Hailaker (2019) is the strongest on the record. The song addresses a post-breakup aftershock of pain so acute, so all-consuming, the only way to cope would be to slip into a semi-comatose state. The track manages to blend Ed Tullett’s heavily auto-tuned falsetto with distinctly folk sonorities. The bridge then unfurls and adds a full orchestral band, gang vocals and a synthesizer courtesy of Ed Tullet’s affinity with the 90s. The third and final act of the piece is so calm and soft-spoken it is unsettling. A distinctively serene voice and an acoustic guitar close the song in a final desperate attempt to hold on to what once was. As if recounting a distant memory, he recalls that the woman he has lost was the “color of smoke,” perhaps as a tragic reminder that he can still see her though she remains out of reach.  

Currently Hailaker only counts just over half a million monthly listeners on Spotify. While that number is sure to increase in the coming years, I urge you to check up on your friends if you catch them listening to them too much. They might not be doing too well.