Premiere: The Stirring Nostalgia of Travis Hayes’ Rich “Empty Orchestra”

Travis Hayes 2019
Travis Hayes
Travis Hayes’ poignant new single “Empty Orchestra” echoes intimate nostalgia with warm, rich folk and plaintive sincerity.
Stream: “Empty Orchestra” – Travis Hayes
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My high school years felt so heavy, like the end of everything…

Our youth is forever increasingly distant – a fleeting idea, a frame of mind and state of being forever lost to a faraway past. We are getting older every second. As the seconds tick, there’s more and more to look back on. Travis Hayes’ poignant new single “Empty Orchestra” echoes intimate nostalgia with warm, rich alternative folk and plaintive sincerity.

Sleepless - Travis Hayes
Sleepless – Travis Hayes
we grew up inside of parking lots
hanging outside of car windows
while the radio exclaimed
just how hard it would be to leave
when all we wanted was to go
we fell in love with the first one who would
and held hands on the hill behind our high school
we kissed so hard that it made our lips bleed
so afraid that this feeling might leave


Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Empty Orchestra,” the final single off Travis Hayes’ forthcoming sophomore album Sleepless (out this Friday, March 1, 2019) An independent touring singer/songwriter based in San Francisco, Travis Hayes paints lush portraits of our life and times through a emotive alternative rock music. Previous singles “Sleepless,” “Harrowed Hearts” and “Second Chances” have set up Sleepless to be an impactful offering full of polished guitar licks and haunting harmonies.

A moving slow ballad, “Empty Orchestra” is the hidden gem on a largely rock record: A head-turning moment of introspection, the song finds Hayes stopping in his place, turning around, and soaking up all that’s come before — everything in his youth that brought him to this moment.

“I wrote ‘Empty Orchestra’ about this lonely, but nostalgic feeling I get when I look back at my youth,” Hayes tells Atwood Magazine. “I don’t miss feeling so alone growing up in a small town, but at the same time I do miss the innocence of those days. My high school years felt so heavy, like the end of everything. But I lived through it. Looking back, I can still feel some of the pain, but in comparison to adulthood, it seems so insignificant.”

When you’re in it, those younger years feel so important. Every little thing that happens is a seismic shift. With age comes wisdom, but also wear: We stop noticing the small things, we write them off as unimportant or insignificant, and we focus on big-picture items like they’re all we’ve got. We lose sight of what makes life so special: That it’s this amalgam of everything!

this empty orchestra rings out in my head
louder than the words you swore you never said
we were drunk off cheap vodka and cigarettes
snuck around having sex in our friend’s apartments
this might be the end of everything
Travis Hayes 2019
Travis Hayes

For Hayes (and for listeners), “Empty Orchestra” is the key turning the lock back into place. It’s the wide-eyed adult returning to his youth, and experiencing that intense rush of wonder as if it’s happening, like it did to him then, for the very first time. It’s a magical moment of un-adulterated humanity: A powerful rush of life.

Of the songs on his upcoming album, Hayes says, “This material is the most meaningful art I’ve ever created, and I am thrilled to share this part of myself with the world.” He spent the bulk of the past three years working on Sleepless, and his efforts were not in vain: Songs like “Empty Orchestra” capture an intimate, individual moment, and unleash their energy and meaning so that the entire world can feel what Travis Hayes felt in this moment. “This might be the end,” he sings among a flurry of lush instruments. That sort of emotive power will knock you out.

Stream “Empty Orchestra” exclusively on Atwood Magazine; Travis Hayes’ sophomore album Sleepless is out Friday, March 1, 2019!

pre-order Sleepless here
Stream: “Empty Orchestra” – Travis Hayes
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Sleepless - Travis Hayes

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