The Co Founder: Taking chances

by Joslynn Vasquez

Hayden Eller is a singer and he also writes songs, but be careful not to peg him too quickly as a singer-songwriter. Eller, currently performing under the moniker The Co Founder, describes what he does more as alternative indie rock, and just the beginning of what he has in store for himself. It is incredibly apparent when talking with Hayden that he is the kind of person to make things happen, and from listening to his music, that he’s currently on a roll with his bluesy, thoughtful approach to songwriting.

After his first release, Sentimental Cigarette, recorded in his dorm room bathroom, his grandmother’s closet or anywhere he could find good acoustics, Hayden began to really identify as a musician. Having come from a sports-oriented family in which music wasn’t the forefront, being a musician wasn’t a feasible option. He decided to stay in Bellingham to continue making music after graduating from Western instead of accepting a Peace Corps term, and has been making sure it was worth it ever since.

“My parents were actually supportive. They told me to really go for it, and I am,” he said. “I started to think that art isn’t a deadbeat’s job if you really put the time and energy into it—it’s a way to connect to people. I’m not gonna sit on my hands. I’m not gonna leave things to chance. I’m taking every opportunity.”

The Co Founder has since put out two other EPs, New Programs/Old Beliefs and Whiskey and 45s, in close succession. “I just played guitar all day, so these songs came quickly. I would start a song at 9 p.m. and finish it at 2 a.m.; I have ADD so I know that if I don’t run with it, I’ll lose the thought process,” explained Eller on his process. “I like the idea of music being a visual thing, like a score in a movie.”

In his music you’ll find samples, slices of audio taken from mediation tapes or even Blockbuster films. “With the meditation samples, it felt like a more complete acknowledgment of the fact that music was not a frivolous thing.”

Eller gives a lot of credit for his start to local bands such as City Hall and The Palisades, among a plethora of support he’s received in the scene. Eller remembers feeling like an outsider at first, nervous to step on anyone’s toes. He was received warmly, though, and had a number of people pour fuel on his flame. He remembers sharing a song of his to the guys in City Hall and getting a positive response. “They liked what I wrote and it blew my mind; It was like being shot out of a gun,” he smiled. “It was exactly the affirmation I needed to get going.”

As for the future of The Co Founder, Hayden admits he’s not married to the project he’s working on, more to the work itself. He was thoughtful when I asked him what his plans are for the future. “When I look at successful people, they’ve been involved in a lot. This could be the chance to make it, but I’m also open to all possibilities.”

The Co Founder embarks on its first tour this winter, heading to Leavenworth, Spokane and Chelan, among a few other stops. Eller couldn’t be more excited to cram himself and his guitar into his car and go. “I’m just bringing my gear and a sleeping bag,” he grinned.

Hayden’s advice to anyone that thinks they might want to pick up music is to rely on yourself. When I met with Hayden, he had a book on album cover art in his hand. He told me one of his biggest setbacks in the beginning was thinking he couldn’t do it himself. “You don’t need help making an album cover. Do it yourself. Go to Kinkos, print out something, cut it up and put it in a sandwich bag,” he laughed. “It’s fulfilling!”

His last bit of advice? Fail. “Go out every day and fail. You have to write 70 shitty songs before you write one listenable one,” he said, “but you’ve got to fail so you can build up that shell; soon you’ll learn you aren’t made of glass.”

LIVE SHOW: Catch The Co Founder kick off his tour at The Swillery on Dec. 15. For more about him, follow The Co Founder Facebook page or visit thecofoundermusic.com.

LISTEN HERE: Scraping the Barrel -> https://thecofoundermusic.bandcamp.com/track/scraping-the-barrel-the-palisades-cover

Published in the December 2015 issue of What’s Up! Magazine