Demi Haynes // Seashine

Ripped fishnet tights.

Smoke machine.

Dimly-lit nightclub.

Electric guitar.

My younger sister, Demi Josephine Haynes, is without a doubt the cool sister.

By day, Demi is a veterinary technician (exotic birds are her favorite), but, by night, she’s the lead singer and guitarist of a shoegaze band called Seashine.

Late on weekend nights, you can find her with her band in all black, center stage in a hip venue, plugging in her amp to do what she does best: hypnotizing a crowd with the songs she wrote herself.

The most badass part? With Seashine, Demi is helping revive the shoegaze genre (think My Bloody Valentine and Beach House) amongst people who love the ethereal “dreampop” sound. If you live in the St. Louis area, you might have heard Seashine on the radio or live at The Pageant, opening for Explosions In The Sky.

Here’s Demi herself to tell you more about how she moves the world:


BB: Alright, first of all, it’s still so rad to say my sister’s the lead singer of a band. What’s it like to be the Seashine frontwoman and what’s it like to hear yourself play?

DH: It’s an honor to be amidst such talented musicians and good people who somehow also want to listen to what I have to say  — or sing.

Hearing the music that I wrote surrounding me when we play is probably the craziest feeling in the world. I constantly remind myself how lucky I am.

BB: Most people aren’t familiar with shoegaze, which you call a “lost genre.” How do you describe it?

DH: Most people describe shoegaze as a fuzzy, dreamy, reverb-laden wall-of-sound and I’d say that’s pretty accurate. But maybe, at the end of the day, it’s subjective.

BB: It’s obvious when you perform that the Seashine crew is super tight-knit. What does it take to be a member of the band, besides owning lots of cool black clothes?

DH: Considering the age gap between myself and Paul and Bill and Kate, I’m surprised that we could be so tight-knit. But, at the end of the day, we can respect one another because of our shared talent.

We can be intensely involved in an intimate song, and then we can hang out, laugh, have a beer, and nothing is ever awkward. You need to be able to go camping together on the weekends and forget that you need to be recording vocals.

You have to be able to compromise, but also be a leader and a teammate. Ultimately, you have to believe in the music you’re playing. Black clothes help too.  

BB: It’s kind of hard to describe what it was like to see you perform with Seashine for the first time. You seem so cool and collected in front of the microphone. It’s totally badass! Do you still get butterflies when you get up there?

DH: Of course I do. And of course, it depends on the size of the audience, the venue, and if we are trying to impress the touring band.

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BB: One thing I love about Seashine is that you like to record in unique spaces, like old churches and cabins. What does that do for you, creatively?

DH: Recording in open, rustic spaces is very inspiring and very quiet. Not only does it serve well for a silent, maybe echo-y recording space, but it’s also peaceful and relaxing. It gives you a break from interruptions and blue screens. And that is something that every band or artist could use in what sometimes turns out to be a somewhat stressful time.

BB: Tell us about your upcoming album.

DH: Our upcoming album is self-titled and is our first LP (long-playing album), consisting of 10 tracks. We started recording about a year ago in a cabin and have been building on it slowly since then. The album feels long overdue, so I’m very anxious to have it out and listenable.

BB: Where will we be able to hear it?

DH: We’ll have our very own Bandcamp page up and running as soon as the album is released.

BB: Okay, so, this isn’t something that people generally talk about openly, but years ago you were diagnosed with severe depression. You’ve said that your writing is often tied to your emotions. Does that change your music?

DH: I firmly believe that my emotions completely dictate what kind of product I’m producing. In the past, as I struggled through the trials of youth, my music was full of passion, deep desire, and frequent desperation.

And, now, as I am finding my way through adulthood, I’ve found that not only is it more difficult to find the time to play or record, but I am also experiencing new and more complex emotions in my music.

I don’t usually look back at what I’ve written in an effort to analyze the emotions that I must’ve been feeling at that time. But I do find that, listening back, I can easily relive those feelings again, including the pain, the yearning, and the sorrow.

All in all, I believe I would not be able to make the music that I do if it were not for the depression.

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BB: Battling depression takes a lot of courage and you’re a total inspiration to me. Do you have words of advice for other people taking on an entrepreneurial venture like starting a band, especially those with mental health challenges?

DH: I guess what’s most important is that you find other people who believe in the music you’re making unless you are looking for a collaborative environment. If you want a live audience to hear the music that is circling around in your head, don’t let loose that idea and don’t compromise.

BB: You’ve been singing tapping out rhythms on the dinner table since you were a baby. What’s it like to have music be such a key part of who you are (for those of us who can’t carry a tune)?

DH: I guess it’s innate. I don’t listen to talk radio or podcasts; I look forward to driving to work so that I can check out a new album. When I’m with certain people, music is all I talk about.

I’m always looking for inspiration all around me, and my first thought will often be “Hmm, that would be a cool lyric.” It’s really all-consuming.

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BB: Your lyrics are sometimes deeply personal. What does it feel like to sing them to a crowd?

DH: Some of our songs are more personal than others. I’ve found that those songs, in particular, began their lives as one of my solo project songs. That’s the outlet through which I’ve sieved most of my emotions.

But, in the end, whether or not I write lyrics carelessly, they seem to always contain deeper meaning than I ever expected.

BB: What do you hope Seashine’s music does for people?

DH: I hope that it gives someone the same feeling of purpose and inspiration that so many artists’ music gives me every day. I hope that people who come to our live shows can let their minds go somewhere else for a moment. If anything, I hope it can be enjoyed in the background while they work.

BB: What’s the best compliment you can pay a musician?

DH: I believe any artist really just wants to know that their art touches someone else in some way. Nothing makes me happier than knowing that my music makes someone feel inspired or moved.

BB: You and I both have a version of a brain disorder called synesthesia. How does it function for you and does it play a role in your music?

DH: I experience synesthesia in a few ways: music notes, letters, and numbers all have respective colors, I “see” a color-coordinated calendar, and when I listen to music colors and shapes appear in my mind’s eye.

BB: Our dad is a painter and we grew up in a very artsy and musical crowd. Do you think that affected how you pursued music?

DH: Absolutely. Every day I remind myself how lucky we are to have grown up in a family that supports artistry endlessly. I believe that had I grown up in a different environment I wouldn’t have had the support that pushed me to finally pursue my passion.

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BB: What motivates you?

DH: All sorts of things motivate me, although I’m definitely not always motivated to write. Sometimes I’m motivated by positive things like pictures or scenes in my head or songs that I’ve heard. Other times I’m motivated by sheer frustration of lack of will, or by comparing myself to other artists.

BB: What inspires you?

DH: Everything inspires me. Films, other artists, books, stories, conversations, strangers, dreams, nightmares, the night. I like to create worlds inside my head that I can illustrate through my music, and those worlds are a conglomeration of everything that inspires me every day.

BB:  What makes you feel like a badass?

DH: Playing music with my friends who I love and who respect me makes me feel like a badass.

Being surrounded by people who care about and are inspired by my work make me feel like a badass.

BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

DH: Hmm… The Tenth Kingdom trivia?

BB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

DH: I love my big sister and I’m so proud of her.

BB: Thanks, Dem. I love you, too.


Check out this Riverfront Times review of the band to learn more about Seashine.


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Author Micah Larsen is a persuasion scientist and consultant. Her job is to teach people how to use subtle persuasion in their emails, conversations, and campaigns to get others to say “yes.”

Watch one of her short persuasion how-to videos of $9.97 value for free here using code:

BADASSERIE

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Hannah Grey // Viticulturist

On a misty morning amidst the rolling hills of a midwestern vineyard, you’ll find Hannah Grey atop a rolling tractor, monitoring the climate and moisture of her surroundings and preparing the native land to grow Missouri’s most perfect grapes.

Hannah is a

grape chemist

wine scientist 

badass farmer

viticulturist.

If you’ve ever enjoyed a nice glass of Merlot or Chardonnay, you’ve got a viticulturist like Hannah to thank. Viticulturists are responsible for the scientific care and monitoring of vineyards, and as one of the few women in her field (excuse the pun), Hannah is busy blazing a trail as part-chemist, part-farmer, 100% badass.

Not to mention that she’s a super-talented singer, but we’ll get to that later.

Here’s Hannah herself to tell you more about how she moves the world:


BB: Hannah, you’re a chemicals supervisor and vineyard farmer at Mount Pleasant Estates in Augusta, Missouri. You said that means you spend most of your days on a tractor. Tell us about your day job.

HG: That’s right! I work on the viticulture side of things, so the chemicals that I handle are to for the plants themselves, not the wine. I use my tractor daily to spray our crops, mow, and harvest, etc. We have about 70 acres of vineyards with several different varieties. It’s my job to make sure our grapes stay happy and healthy for harvest.

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Photo courtesy of Hannah Grey

BB: Vineyards seem to be a pretty regional thing, so not everyone knows what it’s like to spend time at one. Is working at a vineyard as glamorous as it sounds?

HG: Yes and no. No in that it can be very hard physical work. It’s farming, after all, so it’s dirty and sometimes pretty physically demanding.

But, on the other hand, and more importantly to me, having the opportunity to spend every day outside in our fields totally allows me to become an active part of my natural, living surroundings, which I think many of us lack these days. It allows me to feel connected to not only the plants that I nurture but to everything alive around me.

There is much to appreciate within that instinctive connection to nature.

BB: We often hear that women are few and far between in science-based jobs like chemistry or viticulture. Do you find that you’re in the gender minority?

HG: For sure. It’s really rewarding to break the stereotype that farming is a man’s job. I certainly enjoy the challenge in the work I do.

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Photo courtesy of Hannah Grey

BB: You moonlight as a musician. Tell me about that.

HG: I do! I’m currently working as a vocalist with two projects. The Paulosmallband is a four-piece led by my friend and mentor Paul Oviatt, along with friends Rebecca Mayer, Pat O’Donnell and myself as a vocalist. We cover a wide variety of tunes from nearly every genre and we really have a lot of fun together.

My personal pet project is the Hannah Grey Duo, also with Paul. I like to think of this sound as a unique combination of folk and jazz. We’re currently working on some new original music that I think is going to be really nice.

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From left: Paul Oviatt, Grey, Rebecca Mayer, Pat O’Donnell. Photo courtesy of Hannah Grey.

BB: What inspired your interest in music and in your genre?

HG: I’ve been a lover of music for as long as I can remember. I started playing the saxophone at age ten (I’m 34 now) and I’ve pretty much been a musician ever since. I started singing and playing sax in my early twenties for an indie rock band. Since then, I have focused primarily on vocals and have worked in many different genres like rock, hip-hop, jazz, EDM (electronic dance music), folk, even a full-length album of songs for children.

I like playing around with different genres because it’s always fun for me to try things I’ve never tried before. At my core, I think I’ve always had a jazz soul. I love all the old greats like Etta James, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, and the like. Amy Winehouse is another one of my favorites.

I love the loose, abstract nature of jazz. But I’m also gaining a real appreciation for the rawness and humanity of folk music.

I view my music as I do my work; I’m at my best when I’m challenged.

BB: I’m a native Missourian and I know many folks consider it a flyover state. Do you feel that way?

HG: I might have thought so before I moved here, but I don’t feel that way at all now. I live in Augusta which is about 40 miles west of St. Louis. We’re in the heart of the Missouri River bottoms and directly on the Katy Trail State Park. We have some of the prettiest scenery in the Midwest.

Of course, there are the staples like St. Louis and the Lake of the Ozarks, but Missouri has so many great communities of artists, musicians, and genuinely interesting, kind people. Tons of great hiking trails, not to mention over 100 wineries. I really think Missouri has much more to offer than people realize.

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Photo courtesy of Hannah Grey

BB: Folk music and wine are pretty central to the Missouri culture. Do you think you’re helping people appreciate the Midwest?

HG: I hope so! Folk music and wine are timeless. With both my work and my music, I get to make something that brings people together and makes people happy. That makes me happy.

BB: What motivates you?

HG: My loved ones motivate me, for sure. Making people feel good motivates me. I’m an empathic, sensitive soul; making others feel happy literally fuels my own happiness. That can be a hard thing for some folks to understand, but compassion is a huge part of who I am.

If I can sing to a crowd and touch even one person’s soul in a positive way, then I’ve done my job.

BB: What inspires you?

HG: Nature. Love. Heartache. Happiness, contentment. The softness in a warm, foggy morning. My family. Conversations with my best friend. Rainbows on my bedroom ceiling when the early sun hits the prism in the window just right.

Did I say love?

BB:  What makes you feel like a badass?

HG: The fact that I’ve worked my way to a place where I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing.

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Photo courtesy of Hannah Grey

BB: What’s your dream trivia category?

HG: Definitely Seinfeld. I’d rule.

BB: Is there anything else you would like to add?

HG: I’d like to thank you, Micah, not only for featuring me but for providing such an awesome platform for women to share their badass-ness! You lift us up and give us power. We need more women like you. Thanks again!


Learn more about Missouri’s rich wine culture here.

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Author Micah Larsen is a persuasion scientist and consultant. Her job is to teach people how to use subtle persuasion in their emails, conversations, and campaigns to get others to say “yes.”

Watch one of her short persuasion how-to videos of $9.97 value for free here using code:

BADASSERIE