Country music star Hunter Hayes rose to fame when he first entered the music scene, but in a new interview with Fox News Digital he said he would have some advice for himself when he was younger .
Hayes shot to fame in 2011 and 2012 with catchy songs like “Storm Warning” and the ballad “Wanted”, the latter of which was a staple on country and pop stations. While he seemed like one of the hottest tickets in the music industry at the time, years later, Hayes opened up about how stardom had taken a toll on his mental health. He explores some of those struggles in “Red Sky,” the artist’s first fully independent album.
“I definitely had my moments of anxiety,” Hayes told Fox News Digital. “I think the biggest place I wanted to grow up in and the biggest thing I wanted to be open about on this project is this just sense of self.”
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The musician said that while he was hesitant to release his latest project, his fans encouraged him to “keep doing things that scare you”. Several, he acknowledged, reached out to him on a specific track called “Victory,” which serves as a personal exploration of his struggles.
“And ‘Victory’ in particular…I just wanted a song that was about process,” he said. “I mean, how many times have we heard…whether it’s from therapists or speakers that it’s still happening. And I had to do a lot of personal growth to get the music I wanted for this album. So… I just kept pulling that out of the conversations. There’s no end point. It’s just who I am, who you are now and what you’re doing with it today. And what you do with it now. And to celebrate. I’m my toughest critic, and it can be really hard for me.”
He pulled out a line from the track that hit particularly close to home.
“There’s a line in the second verse, ‘Two steps forward, one step back, and I’m okay with that’…I wanted a place to celebrate…for people to celebrate themselves and feel celebrated and feel accomplished and give themselves credit for what they’ve done, you know, not focusing on – what I’m guilty of – focusing on where you want to be versus where you are, but instead focusing on where you are and being grateful for where you are,” Hayes explained.
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Hayes said if he could give this younger version of himself one piece of advice, it would be, “Trust yourself.”
“There are going to be a lot of people who are older than me or have more experience than you,” he said. “But there are things that nobody else can match yours. One of them is, you know, every time someone says, ‘What are your fans going? think about it?’ Now I look back and laugh because it’s like, well, you got nothing. And I’ve had some deep conversations with them.
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“It became a thing like we did – the community that is my fanbase creates this safe space for people to share stories and be vulnerable,” Hayes continued. “So I would start with, ‘Trust yourself, trust your instincts, stick with it. And yes, and believe in vulnerability. Because every time I did that, great things happened and things and those songs taught me so much.
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The star’s self-care today, he said, focuses on the “little things.” It could be anything from a drive through a part of town he’s never seen, to just giving himself the grace to have some time off.
“So it’s really about giving me grace,” he said. “It’s not the best form of self-care, I think it’s mentally saying, ‘Hey, it’s okay if you don’t accomplish anything today. You know, that’s what what is for today.'”
Hayes also said he’s a “big fan” of acupuncture.
Hayes’ new album, Red Sky, will be released on April 21. A multi-instrumentalist, Hayes said it was the first album where he could play the violin.