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369 – The World Of Adelaide Music From Atlas Genius To Hayli

369 The World Of Adelaide Music From Atlas Genius To Hayli

A special, musical episode

Steven Jeffery from Atlas Genius asked us to listen to music from a new artist, Hayli, who he’s convinced will take the world by storm, so Steve agreed. The result is this special episode diving deeply into the story behind the music industry, covering fame, fortune, and the preparation that goes into this career.

Plus, we also taste Pirate Life’s Strawberry & Watermelon Crush in the SA Drink Of The Week.

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Running Sheet: The World Of Adelaide Music From Atlas Genius To Hayli

00:00:00 Intro


00:02:18 SA Drink Of The Week

We sip an SA Drink Of The Week at Pirate Life because next month, April 16, 2023, Hayli will be launching her debut EP at the brewery.

We taste the Strawberry & Watermelon Crush.

00:05:48 Steven Jeffery and Hayli

In episode 358 in August last year, we featured a song by Atlas Genius because the band had just taken the USA by storm with appearances on just about every US prime time talk show you could imagine. The single, Trojans, was the tune that got into the heads of Americans, selling more than 1 million copies, achieving Gold status, and reaching number 3 on the US Alternative Music Chart. Just another little export from Victor Harbor!! One of the founding members is Steven Jeffery, and he joins us with a superstar-to-be, Hayli.

There’s much to discuss today, from behind-the-scenes insights into the music industry, the grind of rehearsals, the creative process of writing or choosing songs, the unrelenting need to promote yourself, and the challenge of maintaining the joy that music is all about.

But I want to start by joining some dots in the Atlas Genius story because for a youngish band, it’s amazing how many different versions there are online about your formation. Steven, can you start by sharing “that moment” when you and your two brothers, Keith and Michael, decided to form a band back in 2009?

An American ABC article says you’ve left, and the Wikipedia article about your band has a list of almost a dozen people who are (or have been involved). Has it been a case of musical chairs, and if so, why?

Many US fans first learned about you when your song, Trojans, was featured in Greys Anatomy. Let’s have a listen to that song and then come back and discuss how it came to be featured on the TV show and what the aftermath was like?


Trojans is a reference from Greek Mythology and, of course, Keith told reporter Taylor Dunn that the band name was also “a certain play on the Greek mythology”. Was philosophy an area of interest for you boys?

Every family has its own mythology, to a degree, which is something I hope to focus on this year as we reach 10 years of The Adelaide Show podcast. Performance coach and author, Owen Eastwood, goes deep into this in his book, Belonging, as he talks about the Maori concept of Whakapapa; the notion that oour ancestors came before us and the sun shines on each of us in our turn. In your case, your father was in a band, I believe. Is there much music and performance heritage in the Jeffrey family?

Hayli, we’re about to turn our attention to you but first I want to play another Atlas Genius song that Steve says is his favourite and your favourite. Why do you like The City We Grow?


Hayli, when I first listened to the three tracks you currently have on Spotify, I wrote this to Steven: If we were going to draw a Venn diagram with Hayli, Kate Bush and Melissa Etheridge, I think there’d be some sizeable areas of overlap surrounding Hayli’s own features.

Hayli, here you are, at the beginning of your career. What goes through your mind when listeners try to peg you to other singers like I did?

What was the moment when you decided to throw everything into a music career?

I hear that you’ve written your songs based on your life and the people around you – which must make it a bit scary if someone’s about to hear themselves or their actions described in a song. What’s been the process for writing songs? The Triple J Unearthed feature on you, specifically notes that you keep your songs ambiguous enough so that people don’t really know who they’re about – which might be important when the topic’s more about hate or impartial romances – but how does that sit next to Leonard Cohen’s belief that it’s in the particular where we find the universal? In other words, do you lose any power by making references to people more general?

Set us up for Mustang Crescent because that’s the favourite Hayli song with my daughters.


I’ve noticed your songs, and most Atlas Genius songs, run between 3:30 and 4:00 but I’ve noticed that DJs these days are either cultivating or responding to a mass sense of Attention Deficit Disorder by only playing 30 seconds of a song, or maybe a minute, or having songs overlaid on each other (remixed). For me, I’d be deflated that all the thought and effort had gone into verses, choruses, instrumental breaks, and lyrics, just gets wasted. I’d probably start just producing 45-second songs, or just 45-second of novel stuff and the rest on “repeat”. How does this impact your planning around a song?

Hayli, your voice is so strong and raw and sensual, that I get a little impatient with the music on your tracks – I just want to hear your voice. How do you balance that?

There is one exception to my “vocal forward” attitude, and that’s on the track, Mistaken, because if features some excellent Hammond Organ. [If you want to hear a great discussion about the Hammond, catch my chat with Evan Whetter from Lazy Eye in episode 303.] What made you both opt for the Hammond – was this Steven’s keys background?


I’ve just read an excellent book called Chokepoint Capitalism, in which the stranglehold that Spotify and record labels have on the music scene is described in great detail. What does Hayli need to do to earn a good living from being a singing superstar, and has having a record label deal brought riches to Atlas Genius?

At the time of recording, you have a big rehearsal scheduled tomorrow, Hayli. Take us through the planning and discipline that goes into setting yourself up to launch your career properly.

Cryptic is your latest release. Can you decipher it for us?


Steven, Hayli is a singer/songwriter and that comes through in her songs but for Atlas Genius, I sometimes get the sense that the lyrics in the songs are almost like other instruments; it’s not so much what they are saying but how they are sounding? What’s your take?

We’re going to finish with Molecules, a track that has that anthemic, dance floor sound, with keys at the fore. Tell us about being the keyboard player, even though Wikipedia has you listed as the bass guitarist. Do you get your share of the limelight?

Can you introduce Molecules, which features my favourite lines:

We steal the molecules from the dead
We liberate inanimate objects


Atlas Genius website

Hayli (Tripe J Unearthed)

Hayli Instagram

00:28:11 Musical Pilgrimage

No special Musical Pilgrimage segment for this episode because the whole show is a musical pilgrimage.

Here’s this week’s preview video

SFX: Throughout the podcast we use free SFX from for the harp, the visa stamp, the silent movie music, the stylus, the radio signal SFX, the wine pouring and cork pulling SFX, and the swooshes around Siri.

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