Interview: H.E.R. Talks ‘The B Sides’ EP, First Headlining Tour & Fender ‘Offset’ Series
H.E.R. (Having Everything Revealed) has been bright-eyed about her musical calling since she was a little tyke in the sun-drenched Golden State. Later down the line she would go on to fully discover her voice across the country after hitting the bustling streets of the Big Apple.
“[New York] is where I found myself and found my way through love,” the songstress told VIBE. That voyage of self-discovery is eloquently depicted through her recent projects H.E.R. Volume 1 and H.E.R. Volume 2 — which have amassed over 200 million streams worldwide.
The recent release of The B Sides and its now buzzing tracks, “2” and the Daniel Caesar assisted “Best Part,” further solidified H.E.R. as a millennial mainstay. Even Rihanna showed love and cosigned the singer with an Instagram video to the single “Focus.” Part of H.E.R.’s mystifying seductive quality fuels the fans’ desire to unravel the notoriously private luminary, but she prefers to let her music speak for her.
Fortunately for us, H.E.R. became a bit less elusive after being endowed with complete creative freedom, by Fender, for her “Offset” video series. The iconic guitar brand highlighted the young phenomenon’s sweet-sounding lifetime pursuit of instrumentation. With leading-edge, H.E.R. plays 5 instruments and her songwriting has been praised by critics.
Currently, she is waiting to share her gifts for loyalists on her first-ever headlining stint, “The Lights On Tour.” H.E.R.’s upcoming excursion sold out in an abrupt 10 minutes and is set to begin on Nov 5.
VIBE connected with the creative giant before the road trip to talk about her forthcoming debut album, love for guitars, the vulnerability of her music, Bryson Tiller’s “Set It Off Tour” and more.
VIBE: Your recent contribution to the Fender Offset series highlighted your father purchasing you a black and white Fender Stratocaster for your 7th birthday. How did that gift change your life?
H.E.R.: It introduced me to a world that I never thought that I would be able to get to know… guitar playing. It gives me an outlet to write songs and express myself.
You’ve acknowledged that your fascination with music started at 5 years old. You used to watch your father and his band play, but what is it like now that the roles have reversed?
It makes me excited that he is super proud of me. It’s like it is my turn [to put on]. I have waited to show my talent. He would record and I waited to show him what I could do. I would be a fly on the wall and soak everything in.
Do you collaborate musically with your father?
Oh, yeah! We used to a lot. Now that I am super, super busy. I am zoned in on what my sound is. We just do it for fun now. But, my father and I are definitely [bonded] guitar to guitar.
I think part of your allure has to do with fans not being able to see you so frequently. What made you call your first-ever headlining stint, “The Lights On Tour.”
So, The “Lights On Tour” is not exactly the beginning reveal, but the start of being able to experience my sound on a different level. Listeners are able to see me and connect with me during a live performance. You are going to be able to see how I perform these songs, and how we play the songs. And one of the songs on my project is called “Lights On.” So, it just felt right.
How was your experience on the “Set It Off Tour” with Bryson Tiller and Metro Boomin, and what did you learn alongside them?
It was amazing. Yeah, I had so much fun. It was the first time I have ever experienced a tour. So, I was just learning something every day. You know? I learned how to develop a consistent track [record] nightly. I learned anything can go wrong on tour, still, you have to put on the best show you can. There was one show that my computer crashed. But, you know, [I didn’t have access to] Pro Tools.
We just had to go live. You have to be able to adjust to any major mistake. You have to be able to work. Anything can go wrong, and it is always something different.
How do you think your upcoming tour will be different from the previous one?
I do not know what to expect, but this is my first headlining. I am excited because people are coming to see me. And, they are going to be singing all the words to my songs.
Sean Frank directed your “Every Kind Of Way: A Short Film Inspired By Music.” Did you assist him and Coco Mellor with the screenplay?
Honestly, it wasn’t much of a collaboration. It was more so, he told me he was really inspired by the music and he wanted to do something with it. And we had talked about it before filming. We spent time connecting. And, I was there seeing what was going on [artistically]. But, I honestly wanted the visual to be a surprise. I wanted to let them both do their thing. So, yeah! I thought they did an amazing job.
The song lineup on your short film included songs from H.E.R. Volume 1 with the exception of the final track, “Say It Again,” from H.E.R. Volume 2. Will there be another short film with H.E.R. Volume 2 and H.E.R. The B Sides records?
Maybe so! If it came, it would be a surprise. [Laughs]
Your EPs are tightly intertwined, is that because your fans are hearing your life encounters in real time?
Absolutely! Some of the songs I wrote [for the EPs] at the same time. I was writing H.E.R. Volume 1 while I was writing H.E.R. Volume 2, but I wanted to tell the stories that were very personal. So, it was only right.
All of my music is based off my life experiences. I don’t really write [outside of that too frequently]. I write about other people’s experiences from time to time. But these projects specifically, are about me going through stuff. I was not even sure I was ready. I had to be okay with sharing my stories.
I had to be comfortable with being vulnerable. I say my music is like my diary. It was kind of scary releasing the music. Yeah, it’s all me.
Did you have a conversation with Drake about your “Jungle” cover?
No, I indirectly heard that he listened to it. But, I have not spoken to him.
You are originally from Vallejo, California, but your past two music videos are plotted in NYC, why is that?
Well, the short film for “Every Kind Of Way” was created by Sean Frank. And, for me, the two music videos should have been in NYC. [That is where] I feel that song and I was living in New York City [when I wrote it]. That is where I have been the past four years, and it is where I found myself and found my way through love. So, it envisioned the song in the city. I live in Brooklyn.
What can fans expect to hear from you next?
I just dropped The B Sides [EP]. So, now I am working on an official album. They can expect to see me out on tour. And, yeah! Fans can look out for new music until my album drops. It will release early next year, maybe in the spring.