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NextGen Spotlight: Hillarynx

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Meet Youth Music NextGen Fund artist, Hillarynx, a London-based artist making velvety smooth neo-soul.

A singer-songwriter and creative practitioner, Hillarynx uses music as a tool for memory. Her personal lyrics engage with social relations and self-definition, themes that can be discovered in Hillarynx's debut single, 'Belly Full', which reflects on the nourishment of friendships

Currently gearing up to release her first EP, 'Sayyings', we caught up with Hillarynx to hear more about her music, and how she is using her Youth Music NextGen Fund grant to educate other creatives on the music industry.

You’ve recently released your debut single, ‘Belly Full’, which is about the “flavours of friendship”. What’s the story behind the song?

I began writing this song last summer, as a way to celebrate the importance of friendship and gathering. My friends have inspired me to write about moments of joy we have spent together at the various dinners we have hosted across London. I expand the metaphors of the dining experience to reflect on the values of communication, individuality and safety in friendships. 

We would love to hear more about your upcoming debut EP, ‘Sayyings’ . What themes will be explored in the project?

'Sayyings' is all about how words create worlds, not only for relationships with others and ourselves. The project covers romantic love and the importance of slowing down in times of ill mental health. Sonically, my project includes a lot of music of Black origin from neo-soul to jungle. The process has required me to be so vulnerable with my own feelings and I'm looking forward to sharing my EP. You might be wondering I have spelt 'sayings' wrong but it's actually a way for me to honour my experience of dyslexia and how it plays a key role within my communication style. 

The single launch party looked like such a vibe! What was your vision?

A friend and fellow artist, Caxxianne, approached me and was like, 'Would like to do a joint launch party?' And I was like, 'Yeah'. We really sat down and thought about the vibes and space we wanted to curate from the graphics to the order of the event. We wanted to introduce people to our worlds as artists, we both showcased our music videos, performed and I even did a vinyl DJ set. It was so lovely seeing friends, family and people in the community coming down to support us. 

The Youth Music NextGen Fund has enabled you to create content about the music industry and your own journey, what can we expect?

I've been fortunate to get this grant. I thought it was not only important to create content about my journey into music but also what I've been learning along the way. I have since created the Counter-Narratives Newsletter and the Making Sayyings EP playlist on YouTube, including vlogs and a video essay. Expect to see more vlogs, in the lead up to the EP launch. 

You’ve also recently started a new role at Attitude Is Everything. Can you share more about what that involves, and how you balance your music career with your work life?

I recently joined as the Artist Development Manager, part time. My role includes collaborating with talent developers and artists to tackle the access barriers that prevent Disabled and Neurodivergent music creators from having sustainable careers. My day to day can include answering artist queries, producing events and meetups, attending conferences to gain insight and influence others, signposting music opportunities to engaging with talent developers and industry professionals as to how we can break access barriers in live music. 

I am still working out how I can create more balance within my music career, working life, and life in general. Times are really tough out here for everyone. I think what has helped is protecting my time for things I need to do, saying no more, reducing unintentional time on social media, centering my health and being in a supportive community. 

Your next single, 'Always Do It', is a buttery, neo-soul jam, due for release on 31 October. Can you tell us more about how it was created, and the message it holds?

I met Roseland in South London’s burgeoning soul and jazz scene, sharing songs, dance floors and a drink or two before our inevitable first studio session. That session gave birth to 'Always Do It'. Full of healing frequencies and introspective writing. It’s a chat and a hug with a best friend, extended to all creatives who may need a moment of self-care before getting back at it. 

Lastly, what have you learned on your musical journey so far? And where do you hope this journey takes you?

I've learnt a couple of things -

  1. Never forget about the art, the art is what makes people connected. I've been listening to Cleo Sol's latest Album, 'Angel', and it has moved me so much because of how delicate both her voice and lyrics are. 
  2. Rejection is inevitable but self-rejection should never be. Protecting my mental health and building in a slow way has helped me work at my own pace and find new pathways to creating. 
  3. Sustainability is a strategy not a thought, you have to be really intentional with your time and resources. In releasing my own debut single, I've had to focus on single purchases via Bandcamp as streaming doesn't pay out as much.  

I hope and plan to create more pieces of music that expand my own skills set and contribute to genre shifts within music. I hope and plan to ensure I can have a sustainable career within music, and that I get to meet people from across the world and exchange musically. I may have started the artist journey at 25, but I'm looking forward to making music that reflects my late 20s and beyond.