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Artist Spotlight

Exclusive Interview: Rising Artist Luay

Hello Luay, Thanks for coming to Honk Magazine to talk about your career.

Tell us a little more about when you first got into music?

I first got into music real young, at about 5 years old. My parents put me in piano classes, and we had this box of music toys in our home, filled with shakers, flutes, drumsticks, etc. Me and my little brother would just create our own little impromptu songs with that. And from there, it progressed, I kept doing my thing, dropped the piano classes at some point, and switched them for songwriting, which I did over Youtube beats in the beginning. I then picked up FL Studio, a Digital Audio Workstation that I started making instrumentals on. It all came together—I haven’t stopped since.

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If you could describe your sound/style in one word, what would it be and why?

Purple. Most songs have colors when I listen to them: some are warmer, more on the orange/red/yellow spectrum whilst more stripped down, dark records may sound blue/black/green, you get the point. My music as a whole is purple, not necessarily warm or cold but somewhere in the middle of things. I guess what I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t really fit into any boxes, not in terms of genre, mood, lyrics, I try to venture everywhere, in hopes of blending everything I see into my purple music-melting pot.

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What would you say to any aspiring recording artists who look up to your work?

First of all, thank you. That’s surprising. As I still have a long way to go on my own journey, the only piece of “advice” I could really give you is this: hear advice, but don’t formulate your life around it. As a young artist, I would try to regulate my musical output to the things I saw my favorite musicians talking about. I would hear someone say to “always express your true emotions”, so I would try to force that out of myself, someone else would say “it shouldn’t feel like work” and so I’d take that super literally-

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When it’s really just about having fun with it. Whatever feels good in the moment, be it thoughtful, or stupid, productive or unproductive, whatever, do that. Although I guess that is a form of advice, isn’t it?

What quote or mantra do you live by?

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My favorite quote is one about the Brazilian soccer player Ronaldinho. In an interview, his coach simply said “He spent a lot of time with the ball.” This was a perfectly simple explanation of the player’s greatness. Just spending time with something, will make you great at it.

What is your hobby outside of music?

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Outside of music, I love writing. These two passions are pretty much interlinked, since I write poetry for my music. I’ve been into reading from a very young age, I used to inhale books as a child, stuff like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, I was in love with. That habit stuck around.

Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

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To be honest, in 5 years I want to be a big name in the industry. I want to have dropped my first album by then, which I’ve been writing since I was 16, and I want it to be a game-changer. After dropping that, I’d probably take a hiatus to find some space for my second album. In 5 years, at 23 years old, you’d probably find me in a little run-down apartment on the Upper West Side in New York, trying to figure things out. Hah.

Do you have anything new or upcoming we can expect to see from you?

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Absolutely, my plan is to drop a single every 2 weeks from now on. So regular releases should be expected, including a mixtape you might want to keep your eyes peeled for…

What is the inspiration behind your latest song?

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The inspiration behind my latest song “Janan” was an unrequited love. It’s about the expectations I had of it prior to it ending. It’s kind of like an in-between song—on this one, you hear me in pursuit, if that makes sense. It’s a fairly romantic track I’d say, very wavy.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

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5 things I wish someone told me when I first started…

1: Put in the hours. Back in the day, I didn’t understand that the concept of working hard applied to the creative arts too, when, in reality, work is at the center of every great artist. Simply putting in the time, like Ronaldinho with the ball, is crucial.

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2: Don’t spend too much time overthinking it. I remember working on my song “Mixed Signals” for around two months. Non stop. Changing the tiniest of harmonies, re-recording the slightest mistakes. Perfectionism at it’s finest. While this turned the song into a great product, I’m quite sure the second month didn’t really make a difference. In addition, I wasn’t even happy with it when I put it out. Now I listen back and it sounds perfect.

3: Reach out. This is a big one. I never knew that it is key as an artist to actively get in contact with the music industry. I used to think that just putting out music would somehow magically get me in contact with the right people, even though a big part of it is really just writing emails in bulk, submitting your music to blogs, and getting in contact with artists you mess with. The internet is a valuable platform: use it.

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4: Be consistent. As an artist, consistent output really is key. Just drop regularly. This ties into the don’t overthink thing from before—getting your work out there is so important. I know so many artists that are inside, working on music all day, with the idea that they have to “hone” their sound to perfection before releasing anything. In reality, putting stuff out, getting reviews for it, getting in contact with the industry, etc. is what makes you better at what you do. Don’t wait around forever, saying how crazy it’ll be when you finally drop. Just do it.

5: Don’t get lost in the idea of inspiration. This is the most important one for me. I touched on this before, but it really is absolutely necessary that you don’t get caught up in the idea of “inspiration” having to be anything specific. In fact, forget the term completely. Songs don’t need a motive. If it feels good in any way, do it. Don’t think about needing a message, don’t think about needing to make it sound a certain way (unless those are things that you want to do). However you’re flowing with it, is how it should be.

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Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

In order to not burn out, I believe you have to limit the noise around you. Leave some space for yourself to breathe. Be bored. Do nothing for a day. And see what comes of it. In addition, maintaining the passion behind your music through talking about things you really want to talk about has always been crucial to me.

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How can our readers follow you online?

They can follow me under @aywaluay on all major social platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, Tik Tok, the like. You can find my music on Apple Music and Spotify simply under “Luay”, although you might have to type a song name (“Janan”) to find me. Give my stuff a listen, if you want, and hit me up with some constructive criticism 🙂

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Album Review

Album Review: Pete Miller’s “Live on Record”

When it comes to genuine and unembellished music, Pete Miller’s debut album “Live on Record” is a revitalizing breeze in the current music landscape. Released on MTS Records, the LP presents an artist who, despite the modernity around him, channels a vintage, heartfelt essence that’s increasingly rare. Combining elements of folk, country, and rock, Miller’s work is a throwback to an era where music was raw and storytelling was genuine.

A Connecticut native who now calls Pennsylvania home, Pete Miller’s journey to his debut album wasn’t one paved with glitter and glamor. Escaping the allure of New York City, Miller worked various blue-collar jobs, including landscaping, warehouse labor, and construction while chasing his musical dreams. His life’s experiences, genuinely reflected in his songs, make “Live on Record” an autobiographical piece that resonates with the “everyman.”

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From the get-go, Miller’s voice draws comparisons to the legendary Johnny Cash, a resemblance he carries with pride. His rich baritone and poetic lyricism are reminiscent of the Man in Black’s storytelling prowess. Influences of Townes Van Zandt’s melancholic narratives also weave through the album, grounding Miller firmly in the tradition of great American singer-songwriters.

The album’s opener, “A Light Out There – Intro Version,” sets the tone with a soulful introduction that hooks listeners. The lyrics, “You may go away, but the story will survive. You want to return, but wonder if you’ll arrive…” instantly pull you into Miller’s world – reflective, tinged with melancholy, yet hopeful. The full version of “A Light Out There” has  garnered significant attention, amassing over 119K streams on Spotify and breaking into the UK iTunes Top 20 Singer-Songwriters Chart. The full album is quickly approaching 1 million Spotify streams!

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Each song on the album is meticulously crafted to tell a story, from the contemplative “The Star Showman, Pt. I” to the earnest “Oh, Lord,” each track offers a glimpse into Miller’s life and experiences. In “The Dazzling Kimberly,” Miller’s narrative style shines through, painting vivid images of characters and emotions with minimalistic yet powerful instrumentation.

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The simplicity of the album is its greatest strength. Miller’s acoustic guitar work is untainted by overproduction, allowing the natural sound of the instrument to take center stage. His playing is rhythmic and engaging, supporting his vocals without overshadowing the poignant lyrics. Tracks like “I Wrote Hannah a Letter” and “Hard to Find” showcase this beautifully, with Miller’s jangling guitar providing the perfect backdrop for his homespun poetry.

“Midnight Blue” and “The Raven & the Dove” delve deeper into Miller’s introspective side, offering meditative and almost haunting melodies that linger long after the song ends. They’re a testament to Miller’s ability to evoke strong emotions through his music, making listeners feel the weight of his words and the authenticity of his experiences.

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The album’s closer, the complete version of “A Light Out There,” is a fitting end to the journey. It encapsulates the overarching themes of the album – longing, resilience, and a quest for meaning. The lyrics, “When you suffer, you’re out of this land. When you came back through that door, the waves didn’t remember your feet on the shore,” resonate with anyone who’s felt lost and found solace in the simplicity of life.

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“Live on Record” is an album that doesn’t aspire to be flashy or trendy. Instead, it focuses on being real and relatable. Pete Miller’s music is a reflection of his life – unpolished yet profound, simple yet deeply meaningful. His storytelling is the heart of the album, and it’s this authenticity that makes his debut a standout.

As Miller works on his follow-up album in the woods of Pennsylvania, one can only anticipate the continuation of his musical journey. If “Live on Record” is any indication, Pete Miller is poised to carve out a niche for himself in the music industry, staying true to his roots and delivering music that is as raw and real as it gets.

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For more information on Pete Miller and to connect with his music, check him out on Facebook.

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Artist Spotlight

Music Review: Pam Ross – “Doublewide”

Pam Ross’ latest single, “Doublewide,” set for release on August 9th, 2024, is a captivating fusion of rock, Americana, and country that showcases her knack for heartfelt storytelling and infectious melodies. As the lead single from her highly anticipated LP, “Outside the Box,” “Doublewide” is a testament to Pam’s ability to connect with her audience on an emotional level.

From the outset, “Doublewide” pulls listeners in with its country-rock infused sound. The track’s vibrant instrumentation and Pam’s distinctive vocals create an irresistible energy that captures the essence of newfound love. The lyrics paint vivid images of being swept up in the fervor of a passionate relationship, with lines like:

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“`
“I’M OUT DANCING ON A HOT TIN ROOF
EVERYTHING’S BEEN DIFFERENT SINCE I MET YOU
NOW I’M MAKING CHANGES TO PLANS I HAD
AND STAYING IN ON FRIDAY DON’T SEEM SO BAD”
“`

These evocative words resonate with anyone who has experienced the transformative power of love, making the song both relatable and deeply personal.

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Recorded at Goodluck Studio and masterfully mixed in Nashville by Marc Frigo, “Doublewide” boasts a polished yet organic sound. The production allows Pam’s voice to shine through while ensuring that every instrument plays a pivotal role in the overall composition. The song’s dynamic range keeps it engaging, with energetic verses building up to a memorable chorus:

“`
“YOU AND ME GOT A LOVE SO HOT
WE’RE GONNA BURN THIS DOUBLEWIDE DOWN
EVER SINCE YOU TOOK MY HAND
FOLKS SEE FLAMES FOR MILES AROUND”
“`

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The chorus is anthemic and catchy, destined to be a sing-along favorite at live shows and a staple on playlists.

What sets “Doublewide” apart is its ability to evoke a wide spectrum of emotions. Pam Ross has a gift for making listeners feel the intensity and joy of love through her music. As she herself puts it, “I just want people to enjoy my music. I hope they sing along, and it makes them feel something inside when they listen.” This intention is beautifully realized in “Doublewide,” a song that is sure to leave listeners feeling uplifted and inspired.

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With “Doublewide,” Pam Ross reaffirms her status as a versatile and emotionally resonant artist. The single not only stands out on its own merits but also sets the stage for what promises to be an exceptional album in “Outside the Box.” Fans and new listeners alike will find much to appreciate in this vibrant, heartfelt track. Be sure to mark your calendars for August 9th, 2024, and get ready to experience the magic of Pam Ross’ “Doublewide.”

 

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