Canadian pop singer-songwriter W. Darling (AKA Hayley Gene) has been writing songs as W. Darling for Disney pop C-listers like Cody Simpson and Victoria Justice, and last year, she lent her Ellie Goulding-esque vocals to Bassnectar’s “You & Me.” Finally, she’s stepped out on her own and has just released her solo EP, ‘Lost Girls: Chapter One’.
The name she releases music under is due in part to Canadian reggae fusion act Magic! The band and Gene were all living in a house together, at which point she was dubbed the Wendy Darling to their Lost Boys, a nod to Peter Pan. Shortened down to W. Darling, Gene hopes the persona embodies a compassionate caretaker role, and Learn To Love’s message certainly plays to that desire. In the lyrics we can hear traces of the character, who learns how to mature into an independent adult while Peter Pan, the unreliable youth, refuses to grow up.
As the daughter of famous children’s songwriter Fred Penner, who is hosting this year’s Polaris Gala, her career choice doesn’t fall far from the tree. Prior to releasing music as W. Darling, Gene played as one-half of electro-pop duo TuZO — but now, L.A.-based and gaining recognition for her recently released material (including making Spotify’s list of up-and-comers for 2015), it seems like she’s just begun to feel comfortable flying solo.
Check out the video for her folk-influenced “Learn To Love” below: