Hayley Gene is at a crossroads. The Canadian singer-songwriter has been writing songs as W. Darling for pop C-listers like Cody Simpson (Ed Sheeran-lite) and Victoria Justice (Ariana Grande’s former co-star), and last year, she lent some levity to Bassnectar’s heady dubstep-romance “You & Me.” Finally, she’s edged out on her own and is releasing a series of EPs as a solo artist. The first of which, Lost Girls: Chapter One, is out now, and today we’re premiering the visual for a song off that EP called “Learn To Love.”
You’ll hear the same sharp, sticky-sweet vocals that made “You & Me” such a huge song in 2014, but “Learn To Love” is far more stripped-down than that track’s dubstep production, and has an almost Irish influence. Actually, her voice reminds me a lot of Andrea Corr (of the Corrs). She knows how to wield it with the same precision, layering on the emotion as the vocals build to a climax on the chorus. And that emotion remains even when she’s singing wordless harmonies. This clip was done by Young Astronauts — the production group who handled Grande and Iggy Azalea’s inescapable “Problem” video — and shows a lone figure dancing alone on an empty stage in a massive venue.
If you’re wondering about her name, it’s due in part to Canadian reggae fusion act Magic! The band and Gene were all living in a house together at one point, and she was dubbed the Wendy Darling to their Lost Boys, Peter Pan-style. Shortened down to W. Darling, Gene hopes the persona embodies a caretaker/big-sister role. “Learn To Love”‘s message certainly aligns with that desire. Watch below and keep an eye out for more from her; it seems like she’s just begun to feel comfortable flying solo.
Lost Girls: Chapter One is out now. Get it here. Chapter Two is coming this summer.