5 minute read
Interview: Sam // Words: Ollie
“If you are scared to fail, you won’t even try …”
24-year-old multi-talented singer, songwriter & actress Herizen Guardiola talks to us about her life growing up, making music, working on a Netflix show & her next steps.
Herizen continues, “…do not flatter yourself & call yourself a failure if you never tried. I’d rather be someone that tried & failed, than someone that never even tried”.
From Misfit To Making Hits. //
Born & raised in Miami, Florida, the American describes her upbringing: “I am a bit of a misfit. My father was born into a Catholic, Cuban family. He’s the second youngest of 8 children. He became a reggae musician & married a Jamaican lady so gave up on Catholicism. My mum is also a misfit because everyone in her family was religious & proper, but she left the island, moved to New York & then Miami, becoming a massage therapist & yoga teacher. I grew up watching my dad write music & listening to him on stage. As I got a little older, I went on to sing his backing vocals, so even at a young age, music was the most important thing to us as a family. I saw that you didn’t have to have a regular job. I was a daddy’s girl growing up so wanted to continue his legacy”.
Expanding on her misfit status, the singer continues: “My parents split & we moved to California when I was 15. I was home schooled my whole life but went to a high school with 3,000 kids. I was the new kid, not really knowing anyone. I played basketball & did talent shows just to fit in, but I never really felt like I belonged there. Teachers would ask me what I wanted to do; I’d say musician & they would question me on what I would do as a real job. They discouraged me & I’d get frustrated & sent to the Principal’s office. I knew who I was & what I wanted even then; I was very self-assured”.
After returning to home schooling, Herizen took her first steps into the career she has now. “I started a modelling job when I was 15 & continued until I was 17 with an agency. It was cool & a little confidence boost which was nice. They asked me to join their theatrical side. I had never acted before, but I thought I would give it a go. In my first audition, I got offered the role as Mylene Cruz on ‘The Get Down’, which was my first Netflix show. I took the role because my character was a singer, so I realised I could blend the two things & use it as a springboard for my music career” she reveals.
As Herizen anticipated, her music career has really kicked on from there, being signed roughly 4 years ago. She says, “I have spent my last few years singing, writing music & acting & that has taken me a long way. I have toured Australia, sang my song in front of 20,000 people & got to hangout with the most famous people. I truly believed in myself, that’s why I’ve made it. I never had to figure out who I was – my mum even said I was born knowing who I am & what I was, so that self-assuredness has helped a lot”.
Present Day Difficulties. //
With 2020 a year dominated to date by Covid-19 & the BLM (Black Lives Matter) movement, Herizen reflects on what the year has taught her. “The shitshow of 2020 has opened my eyes to a lot of the fake bullshit, like things I don’t need or want in my life. Also, it’s shown me the things I cannot live without…the silence has made me aware of the noise. I have been grateful to have this reflection time for my own personal growth as you don’t always get to appreciate everything you have done so it is nice to have a moment to pause. The quarantine has done that for me & I think it has for a lot of others too. For the first time maybe ever, the world is together in all feeling this. We’re all a part of history. It’s sad, but we’re all going to be a lot stronger as people because we all went through the same thing…that is my hope anyway”.
With 2020 being a difficult year for the entire world, Herizen shares some of the other challenges she has had to deal with on top of this. She tells us, “When I’m acting, I become tired because the hours are absurd & as I dedicate so much time to being someone else, it can be hard to get back to music writing & focussing on my own life. It has been quite draining to do both. I believe figuring the balance is going to be my biggest challenge”.
Notwithstanding the challenges, Herizen is very clear on how to manage the anxieties: “I realised quite young that when you turn your passion into a career, if you are not careful, you will forget why you started doing it. To deal with this, I have become a selfish artist. I write for myself…for my benefit, not for the radio or what others want to hear. If I didn’t do that, it would be hard to stay focussed I think”.
Music vs Acting. //
With two very strong strings to her bow, namely music & acting, we ask Herizen which she prefers, to which she replies: “I always liked poetry & because I enjoyed reciting Shakespeare, reading monologues has become a passion over the last couple of years as well. That said, to be honest, I am very insecure about my acting. Other people tell me I am good, but when I compare myself to my fellow actors who have done it their whole life, I feel underqualified. I think the difference between acting & music is that the latter was my first love, so will always be my priority”.
With that in mind, we probe into Herizen’s creative process. “My music can come from my memory, a colour or a feeling…that is how I write my songs. A lot of the time I just freestyle a song, it just all comes out at once. I wrote this song called ‘Flower’ & the lyrics were me putting myself in other people’s shoes. It confused me, because I was wondering where the lyrics & feeling of the song came from, I certainly didn’t write it from my experience. When I write, I try to finish a song in a day because I know the next day, I will feel something else & the song will lose its magic. Like anything you have worked on for too long, it can get stale”.
Talking about her latest single, Herizen explains she is still experimenting with her style: “My last song ‘Hellboy’ was about love & hate. It was the first time I ever shared my anger with my fans. I think I am getting bolder & now I just say whatever I want, I refuse to put a filter or limit on what is acceptable. It’s a very personal thing the art we create, you basically give birth to it & then let people scrutinise & study you…therefore, I refuse to restrict myself to please others”.
Wrapping up the interview, Herizen offers some advice to up & coming talent in the creative sector: “My advice would be don’t let anybody stop you…there is no right or wrong. Your teacher cannot tell you how to feel, who to be, or what to think. You are a sovereign being of this universe. Once you realise that, you can do whatever you want. Anyway, I think the world could do with less sheeple, more people so I urge others that if it’s something that makes them happy, they should do it!”.
Herizen has a big future & her experience to date across multiple industries has certainly helped raise her profile & afford her a unique perspective on life. We expect her rise to continue & you should therefore not be surprised to see the artist take centre stage in the years to come.
Herizen’s new single ‘Hellboy’ is out now
Follow Herizen @herizen_fawn