ABOVE: HAILEY TUCK.
Hailey Tuck’s deep brown bob hugs her pale, oval face, framing a pair of crimson-tinted lips and eyes the color of robin’s eggs. Matched with her wardrobe of 1920s vintage dresses and the habit of saying things like “crazy weird” and “super beautiful,” Tuck could perhaps be described best as Daisy Buchanan and Velma Kelly’s long-lost love child. While she comes straight out of the Jazz Age, the sound of her voice–which, until recently, was often introduced while singing to Billie Holiday at parties–quickly establishes a modern identity of its own.
At 24-years-old, Tuck is an up-and-coming jazz singer who first got her start in Paris. Since running away from her Austin, Texas home at the age of 18, she’s gone from squatting in abandoned homes to selling out theaters around the world, including the iconic Le Duc des Lombards in Paris. Fresh off a 2014 tour through Europe and Asia, Tuck is making her U.S. debut at Joe’s Pub this Friday, January 16 with a special midnight showcase.
Last year, Tuck moved to London and released two EPs. We spoke with the musician about her whirlwind of a year, life as an honorary Parisian, and why she just bought a one-way ticket to New York City.
HOMETOWN: Austin, Texas
SQUATTING IN PARIS: I got there and [the housing my family friend set up] turned out to be a squat! I had never heard of a squat before, and so I [had] to choose to stay or not to stay. At the time, I was so mesmerized and super freaked out by it, like this crazy weird guy comes and picks me up and he’s like, “If the police are outside, you can’t go in.”
PARISIAN SUCCESS: In America, there’s such stratification on what it means to be successful as an artist. But in Paris, all these people I was meeting–we’d go to a party at this super beautiful apartment and it’d be like, “Oh, this is Francois, he’s a corset maker.” I’m like, ‘How the fuck is he a corset maker? How many people are buying corsets? How does that happen?” That just doesn’t make sense to my American brain.
BECOMING A JAZZ SINGER: I ran out of money, came back to Austin, and felt so completely inspired as to the fact that, in America especially, it’s college or nothing. It’s college or move to L.A. Paris in general lives in a sort of fantasy world. It’s still the Age of Enlightenment there, basically. I had done so much singing and gotten so much feedback and loved jazz, but I didn’t really understand how that could be a viable career choice. How do you just become a jazz singer? So I came back and handily started dating a successful jazz piano player twice my age. It was almost like going to boot camp. I learned from him and from everybody else in the jazz scene. I went from going to jazz jams and fucking up lyrics to having my own band and working every night and doing it for a living. After I had done that, I felt like I wanted to come back to Paris because I felt I was better armed with the tools to really have a career.
LIVING IN LONDON: There are so many things that are wonderful about Paris. Paris is kind of slow, and it’s 20 years behind and that makes it kind of quaint and cool in a lot of ways. But it also means that it’s very different for doing business. London I love because–well, I’ve never lived in New York, but it feels like what I would imagine living in New York is like–very fast-paced, but in a fun way.
ROMANIAN WAYS: Strangely enough, Romania has been one of my favorite places because of the jazz scene. I sold out a 1,000-seat venue and a 500-seat venue back-to-back. That’s just on an entirely different level than what I play in other countries. They’re so welcoming and they’re so kind and so, like, “What can we do for you? Come have a barbeque at my grandmother’s house!”
STYLING FOR THE STAGE: I’ve been collecting vintage dresses since I was probably 14. My dad loves antiques-our house is antique and so is everything in it! I think I got into it not only through loving it and watching old movies and the glamor of anything from the turn of the century to the ’50s, but because I wanted something to buy when we were going on all these antique-hunting trips. So I started getting vintage dresses. It’s a very mood-driven thing and not really a style-driven thing. For my shows, more and more I’ve wanted to dress in things I feel comfortable in and things that I think are interesting to look at.
BUYING A ONE-WAY TICKET: I have a one-way ticket to New York. I’m keeping my trip to America really open ’cause you never know what comes from it. I don’t know how long I’m staying in New York, but either way, it will be [an] adventure.
YOU CAN PURCHASE TICKETS TO SEE HAILEY TUCK PERFORM AT JOE’S PUB HERE.