Portland=based singer-songwriter Haley Johnsen is celebrating the release of her debut EP, Through the Blue, June 6th at the Aladdin Theater. Sarah Billings invited Haley in to the studio to map out the musical journey so far. It included a very valuable stepping-stone and confirmation of destination when American Idol happened for Haley.


Enjoy the session, below. Catch the show details below the jump, and enter to win a pair of tickets on our Face Book page.




Photo: Addie Mannan, and Katy Weaver









On June 6th at The Aladdin Theater, singer-songwriter Haley Johnsen will celebrate the release of her debut EP, Through The Blue, the perfect platform for this vocal powerhouse, drawing comparisons to 70s folk-rock artists Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt.  Replete with traditional themes of love, loss, and finding one’s way; the tracks transition between moody, theatrical, modern pop, to folk-inspired, soul-baring, and melodic compositions.  They resonate with the part of us that fight for our dreams and wrestle our way Through The Blue.


Also on the bill are My Brothers And I.  Tickets go on sale today and are $12.00 in advance.  Doors are at 7pm and the show starts at 8pm.


Produced by Rob Daiker (Katy Perry, The Fame Riot, Christian Burghardt), the two began with a collaborative process of selecting from over one hundred songs Johnsen had written the past three years, choosing the ones to best represent Johnsen’s range and songwriting abilities.  The result is the seven song EP written by Johnsen, arranged and produced by Daiker, and recorded with guest instrumentalists including drummer Joe Mengis (Priory, Climber, Casey Neill & The Norway Rats).  It serves as a personal reflection upon this season in Johnsen’s life – the transitions she faced, the relationships that were impacted, and the lessons that came from her experiences.


“What I have discovered in writing these songs is that there is peace in struggle.  As I grow, I am learning to accept the ambiguity of life,” reveals Johnsen.  “The songs are mostly about the extremes in life that I was faced with – sort of like a scrapbook of what I was going through: leaving Hollywood to come back home to Oregon; figuring out what I wanted my life to look like; and finding my own authenticity as a songwriter.  My best songs are the blatantly honest ones.  Sometimes my lyrics are things that I wanted to say to someone, but couldn’t find the words in the moment.  Later those words show up perfectly as the chorus to a song.  Other times, I was just trying to work out a problem or express to myself a sense of acceptance of whatever I was going through.  They are cathartic that way.”


Some may remember Johnsen from season 11 of American Idol, where she made it through to the Top 24 semifinalists.


It was a last minute decision to join the thousands of people in line that February afternoon in Portland, Oregon in 2011 when American Idol auditions rolled into town, and she knew what a long shot it was.  Still, she could afford to roll the dice; she was on the cusp of finishing her degree at Oregon State University where she had spent four years slowly cultivating a discipline for singing and performance through classical vocal training and performance as a hobby alongside her studies and really had no plans post graduation.


For artists that come through the Idol machine, the experience can be either a make it or break it one.  What it did for Johnsen was confirm that she could – and should – pursue a professional music career based on the response judges and audiences had to her performances.  “Idol was the stepping-stone that persuaded me to believe in myself as an artist and performer, and it confirmed that I had the talent to make music my ultimate focus,” Johnsen reflects.  “Being surrounded by so many other gifted and passionate musicians ignited a fire in me to carry out my dream as a singer/songwriter that I hadn’t thought I was capable of before.”


Johnsen’s influences range from the eccentricities of bands like Radiohead and Pink Floyd; to classic, folk and indie-rock vocalists such as of Eva Cassidy, Nicole Atkins, Florence Welch, and Brandi Carlile – all artists with a flair for the dramatic in their delivery.  “From a melodic standpoint, I have a hard time writing songs that don’t build to an epic moment.  As a naturally a loud singer, it is really fun for me to play with intricate melodies that reach a point where I can just belt it out with a big lunged chorus, taking the song in a direction the listener wouldn’t expect it to go.  I visualize my songs in a linear way when I write them, but imagine the places where the song needs to rest, climb, and then soar – sort of like a journey to a destination.“



Haley Johnsen, My Brothers and I

The Way Walkers (formerly The Mzungus)

Saturday Jun 6, 2015

Doors: 7:00 PM

Show: 8:00 PM

Minors Under 21 with Parent or Legal Guardian



Aladdin Theater


3017 SE Milwaukie Ave.

Portland, OR