Photo: Grace Rivera
Hazey Eyes has a clear vision for his music. At only 21, he has already mastered a blend of indie and electronic that is fresh, personal and authentic to his experiences in life. His 2017 EP, Some Reason, was an explosive push for him, garnering almost 5 million streams on Spotify for the title track alone. He has played shows with highly revered producer Shallou, and is about to embark on a tour this fall with Petit Biscuit. His latest single, "Scars," is accompanied by a dramatically raw music video, starring Erin Kellyman who appeared in the most recent Star Wars film.
Featuring the animated vocals of Ones To Watch favorite Yoke Lore, "Scars" is painfully relatable. The production is tastefully simple, with crisp claps, pillowy horns and deep cascading synth. The combination of the vocals with the production is majestic, creating a track with a stormy feel and an alluring storyline. Hazey Eyes explains the meaning behind the track, saying,
"'Scars' is about reflection, mostly. We all have certain experiences that help make us up, and whether they were good or bad we need to accept and roll with them."
We sat down with Hazey Eyes to talk "Scars," discovering electronic music and how he makes his live shows pop.
Photo: Grace Rivera
OTW: How did you connect with Yoke Lore?
I was already a huge fan of Yoke before we met. My management knew his management and we connected through them last fall. I believe I sent some demos and from there we met up for some sessions in Brooklyn over the past couple months. That’s how "Scars" came to be!
OTW: The video for "Scars" is pretty dark–can you explain the thought behind the visuals?
The idea behind the visuals was to convey a relationship where one person was feeding off the other. In the video it’s quite literal, but I wanted to explore unequal relationships where one person is clearly getting more out of it than the other and how that affects the emotions and views of the people involved.
OTW: You mentioned that "Scars" is about reflection and that we all have scars. Do you think it's possible to fully heal from them?
We all probably have our own definitions of healing, but I do think it’s possible to accept any scars someone could have and use it as a mechanism to grow. I feel like most people have some type of scar so spinning experiences in a positive way would probably be the best way to deal with that.
OTW: How long did it take you to write the lyrics for this song? Did Yoke Lore just come in and lay down vocals, or did he contribute to the words as well?
Almost all of the lyrics were written in the first session we had together. We talked about concepts and bounced ideas off each other, but Yoke did most of the heavy lifting with the actual lyrics in the song. He has a super unique writing style, and I wanted that to shine through.
OTW: How does your music translate live?
Right now I use a keyboard to play the different key sounds that appear in my tracks, a xylophone controller to play the different bell parts, a drum pad to slam some drums, and a mic to sing. It’s a mix of things where I’m jumping around to different instruments throughout a song to incorporate my own live energy. I hope to expand on that and bring in more instruments to play, as well as possibly include other musicians in my set. I try to focus more on my fun and groovy songs live, so I really just hope people feel like they had a good time. I honestly didn’t go to many concerts through high school and college so I’m only now realizing the full effect live music can have on a person.
OTW: How was touring with Shallou?
A lot of cool things happened on the Shallou dates. They were his first ever headlining dates, they were the debut of my live set, and they all happened to be sold out. It was my first real experience playing shows, and I loved it. I was in the middle of my spring semester at the time, so for the shows during the week I was skipping class to fly out to a show. In the night between our Chicago and NY shows there was a huge storm coming through that ended up cancelling Shallou’s flight so he had to spend all night and most of the day driving from Chicago to Brooklyn. Somehow mine didn’t get cancelled and he made it in time to put on a killer set. This fall I'm hopping on the road with Petit Biscuit and I'm super excited for that.
OTW: We heard you used to be in a heavy metal band! How did the transition from metal to your softer sound now happen?
I didn't discover electronic music until I got to college really, and I think from there I got more into pop sort of music. That combined with my training as a classical musician led to the soft sound naturally I think. All I really did was play the instruments I was used to playing and that was my sound haha.
Photo: Grace Rivera
OTW: Your style is self-described as "Emotional Dance Music." What genres of music do you find inspiration from?
I find inspiration from all over! I have been playing in orchestras my whole life so that's where all the strings are rooted in, besides that I get a lot of mood inspiration from rock or R&B. My name is taken from a Taking Back Sunday song I really loved and was me trying to give a nod to where I've been musically in the past and how it influenced me.
OTW: Where do you do your best work?
Definitely in my bedroom alone (laughs). I've been doing more sessions lately because I think it's super important to be physically in the room with people I'm collaborating with, but something about my room gets me in the perfect head space. Every track I've released has been fully or mostly made in my bedroom.
OTW: You're only 21! What's life like right now?
Crazy! I go to Drexel University in Philly, and they have this co-op program where you go to school for six months and then do a six-month rotation in the industry you're studying. I study electrical engineering and am finishing up my final co-op in the defense industry, and then I go back to school next month and then will be touring in the middle of the semester again. I always like to keep myself busy though, and I enjoy everything I do so it's weird to spell out everything going on in my life.
OTW: Who are your Ones to Watch?