Power of Sound: Molly Haynes
Molly Haynes is a textile artist who spends her days alone crafting beautiful, handwoven pieces that take hours of time to create. And she's receiving a lot of praise for her work. How is she able to stay focused and motivated? By listening to music (and sometimes podcasts). We hit the studio with Haynes to learn more about the sounds and artists that inspire her and uncover her go-to for when she really needs a captivating listen.
POW Audio: How does sound play into your everyday life?
Molly Haynes: I am a textile artist and the focus of my work is handwoven sculptural wall hangings. So each piece is handwoven by me on a floor loom in my home studio in Brooklyn. I rely on sound while I’m working. I need to be listening to music. I mostly listen to music but also podcasts. And I say I rely on it because my work is so time-consuming—it’s truly a labor of love. It takes a very long time for me to produce my pieces because they’re handwoven. It’s on an old floor loom you would see in your grandmother’s house. So they’re so time-consuming and it’s a lot of time spent alone. As an artist, you know you’re mostly with yourself and your thoughts so I love listening to music because it gets me into a rhythm and able to work for long periods of time. It brings a calmness and order to my practice. It fills the environment and inspires me and I really love music. So I mostly listen to music when I’m working.
POW Audio: What type of music do you listen to?
Molly: Weaving has a very harmonious sort of rhythmic, repetitive process to it. It’s a lot of handwork over and over again. I feel like certain types of music can be very meditative and helpful to sort of get you into that mindset. So I listen to a lot of indie pop, like electronic or synthesizer kind of stuff. I really like music with a lot of depth to it and I feel like it really does influence my work so it’s a lot about creating order through chaos, I guess. Like using very exaggerated wild, natural materials but using the loom to control them. So it’s always a balance that I’m trying to achieve: calmness.
POW Audio: Who are some of your favorite musicians?
Molly: I love Arthur Russell and I think his music’s really beautiful. It’s not trance music but it’s sort of trance-like in that it’s meditative. I’m not really good at describing music. But I love Arthur Russell. He has a beautiful voice. Also Sylvan Esso, who’s kind of like indie pop. So I love pop music and music that has a strong bass. I like electronic music but not techno—more indie-electronic I guess—Sylvan Esso is sort of like that. John Maus and Angel Olson, as well—I just went to her concert in Brooklyn and she’s amazing. She has a gorgeous, gorgeous voice. I really love the instrumental part of her music. She uses a lot of string instruments. It’s very layered and rich. And I love Caroline Polachek, who's also indie pop.
POW Audio: You mentioned sometimes it’s podcasts you listen to when you work. Which ones do you listen to?
Molly: I listen to “The Daily” every morning just to start. And then “99% Invisible”, I’ve been liking. Then someone will turn me on onto a true crime podcast or something. If I have a huge project to do, I might get into a true crime podcast because I need something captivating. I’ve also been loving the “Time Sensitive” podcast lately.
POW Audio: How does music and sound inspire your work and help you focus on every specific creation?
Molly: It’s really hard to describe it. But I guess it’s like the repetitive layering of different parts—I don’t know if that makes any sense. But my work is very layered and textural and it has a lot of dimension and depth to it. So I really like music that also instrumentally has depth or a strong bass to it. I’m also really into 80’s music. I was just in the car with my dad and we basically just listened to a whole 80’s playlist that I made. I love Tears for Fears and stuff like that. Or David Bowie. I love catchy music and pop music, something that I can sing along to. Maybe it’s because I’m alone all the time and it’s fun just to be able to sing while I’m working. Also the loom itself is a repetitive, very active machine that I’m operating with my body. I feel like I like to have music with a strong beat to it.
POW Audio: What does the power of sound mean to you?
Molly: I feel like sound just has the power to shape one’s environment. I feel like I’m very sensitive to the environment I’m in. Being an artist, I’m always trying to create my ideal environment by creating a piece that enlivens the space. To me, music is something that also enlivens the space—it fills the space. So it has the power to shape one’s environment. I’ve noticed, especially living in a city, sound definitely can bring a calmness and order and individuality to your space. Like your personal space. You’re living in a city and it’s chaotic and crazy and you’re just like, “Ahhh! I just want to get home and listen to my thing and be in my calm space.” And then it can go the other way when you’re in the city and there’s an alarm going off and you can’t even focus because it’s so loud. It really changes your environment. When I hear a song I really love, it can completely transform my mood and motivate me and inspire me.