Haley Vassar Premieres 'Can't Fall Slow' Video & Talks Nashville Roots As She Explores Her Own Sound

Haley Vassar
Mark Maryanovich

Haley Vassar 

Though pop newcomer Haley Vassar's roots are in Nashville, her latest release is a coast-to-coast effort. "Can't Fall Slow," which premieres here, was written in Music City and produced in New York with a video shot in Los Angeles.

"I wrote it in Nashville with Jimi Bell at Warner/Chappell," the 20-year-old songstress says. "It was actually the first time we had met and we were just kind of bouncing some ideas around. He was the one that said I have this idea 'Can't Fall Slow,' and once he said that we literally wrote the song in like 10 minutes. It was super fun. After we wrote it, I took it to my producer in New York and he put his spin on it. That's what makes the song really cool is it was written in Nashville but it has a New York spin."

Since moving to New York at 17, Vassar has been working with producer Swagg R'Celious, known for his work with H.E.R., Alicia Keys and Kehlani, among others. "He's really great. He's from Georgia, so with us both being from the south, we hit it off, but he also has a taste for all different kinds of music. He has really widened my horizons. When I'm in a vocal booth, he can teach me different ways to sing or do my runs. I love that about working with him," says Vassar, a Nashville native who is the daughter of hit country singer/songwriter Phil Vassar.

Once the song was completed, Vassar tapped L.A.-based ZANE to direct the video. "We have mutual friends," she says. "One of my friends, Kyan Palmer, and I have a duet called 'Somebody Else.' ZANE had done a video for him and I loved it so I wanted to work with him."

The clip showcases Vassar's sultry vocals and luminous blue eyes. "I just wanted a hazy feel, like everyday life," she says. "We shot it all in this one house. Everything is in a different room with all these colors. Each scene has its own feel. Incorporating all the colors was cool. The director was so amazing. He came up with the vision in literally a day because we decided to shoot it super last minute, but I think the video mirrors the song in a really good way."

"Can't Fall Slow" is her third video, and the budding pop singer admits she's getting more comfortable with the process. "It's an acting job for sure," says Vassar whose two previous clips "In My Feelings" and "Alright" were shot in New York City and Nashville, respectively. "The first video for 'In My Feelings' I felt awkward. I guess being in front of the camera more and more I'm starting to feel more comfortable in my skin. Watching yourself just feels weird. To most people, I may look like I'm fine, but definitely on the inside I'm like, 'Oh my gosh!!!'"

Vassar started writing songs at 15 and moved to New York City at 17 to further develop her own voice. She's been getting notice for her musical chops and style sense, earning notice in Vogue as a fashion trendsetter. "Music is all I've ever known with my dad being in the business," she says of her father who has penned hits for Tim McGraw, Alan Jackson, Jo Dee Messina and others as well as writing his own hits such as "Six Pack Summer," "Carlene" and "Just Another Day in Paradise."

"He's definitely a huge influence on me," Vassar says of her successful dad. "I knew I wanted to pursue music at a really early age because it was always a part of my life. I didn't really decide to jump in fully until I was like 17 and then I told my dad I was really ready to do it. He definitely was apprehensive at first and he tried to talk me out of it, but I think he wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into. He's super protective, but he was also encouraging me and he's always been so helpful."

Haley is the eldest of Vassar's two daughters and he's a proud dad. "I love Haley's pop style and how she's capturing these musical moments," he tells Billboard. "I'm so proud of her and can't wait to hear what's next."

The indie pop singer is continuing to write and record songs for her upcoming debut album. "All genres are inspiring to me, but right now pop is where I find the most inspiration and my passion as an artist," Vassar says. "I'm open to experimenting with different genres and I like being able to incorporate different vibes into my songs. I wouldn't say 'Can't Fall Slow' is country, but it just feels kind of Nashville in a way to me. With my other songs like 'In My Feelings,' that one is a lot more pop and moody, probably more New York. I think it's just fun. I don't like to box myself in just to one genre."

Vassar says her dad has encouraged her to find her own voice. "He's taught me to always to be true to myself, always follow my intuition and always stick to my guns if I feel strongly about something," she shares. "[He says to] write my music, not what's in style right now or what's popular, just to write from the heart."

Right now Vassar is enjoying the best of both worlds, living in New York City and making frequent trips back to Nashville to write with friends. "Nashville is definitely more like a family, a community," she says. "Growing up there, I just wanted some change. I love being able to go home and write when I'm in town, but I like the energy in New York. It's just been really inspirational creatively and I love that about it. It feels more sparse than the Nashville community. I've gotten to write in L.A. and New York and it's been really cool to go home because I think Nashville is so unique. It just feels like a family. I love Nashville and going back and forth, I get the best of both worlds right now. I don't know what's in the future, but as long as I can just be writing, growing and working with different people then I'm grateful for that."

She's thrilled by the far-reaching acceptance her music is getting thus far. "Looking on Spotify and seeing that people in Turkey and Brazil and Thailand have heard my music, that blows my mind," she says with a smile. "It's incredible! It's amazing that I get to do what I enjoy doing. The fact that people like it is a bonus."