Singer. Future actor. Property developer. The saying goes, ‘every man is the architect of his own future’ and for HRVY, this is especially true. HRVY paved the way for many like himself, sharing his talent to the masses on social media around a decade ago. Little did he know that hitting his first 1,000 likes would swiftly lead to three record deals, international collaborations, and his own self-designed home. But it’s HRVY’s humility that really shines through, for he’s not shy to admit that it’s all so easy to take for granted, how it could "all stop tomorrow", how appreciative he is for every opportunity he’s had.
With a plethora of prints and patterns, stylist Natalie Armin pays homage to HRVY’s artistic versatility. So as the rules that kept us restricted are repealed and the walls of clubs vibrate once more, listen out for HRVY as you dance for 1 Day 2 Nights whilst he rides the airwaves as the pilot of his own destiny.
HRVY's latest release 'Runaway With It' is out now.
So I'll go straight away with a personal one, who is HRVY?
Okay, who is HRVY? HRVY is a 22-year-old - I'm going to say boy (because I know I’m supposed to be a man, but I still feel like I'm a boy), who is still trying to figure out everything in life and kind of just winging it. I'm trying to be happy, trying to do well in music, and someone who's passionate about what I do. Ultimately, I just want to be successful and make other people happy.
Well, for someone who's winging it, I think you’re doing a pretty good job! You recently played a headline show at the Royal Albert Hall, how did it feel to be back performing after the last 18 months?
It’s weird because I had my last live show just a few hours before lockdown was announced, a year and seven months ago. The Royal Albert Hall show was a live stream show when we were slowly coming out of the height of the pandemic, but it was really cool because I got to do the Royal Albert Hall! Just not how I would have ever expected to do it, because there wasn’t a single person in the audience. I had a whole band, I had dancers, so it felt like it was a proper show, even in the lead-up to it and rehearsals. It was so eerie when I got out there because there were just four cameras staring at me, that was it. So it was beautiful to look out to the empty Royal Albert Hall. But it was kind of sad. You never know, it could be the only time I perform there and there was no one there. But it's a cool story and I'm hoping to go back one day.
Picture this. There are two or three hours before a show, talk us through some of your pre-show preparations.
I tell myself that I'm not nervous so I don't really feel the nerves in those hours beforehand. But for some reason, I can't eat, even if I'm not stressed. I never get hungry before a show! It must be my brain, it must be nerves, right? My manager’s like "Come on now you need to eat, you're going to lose energy" but I physically cannot eat. I tend to do loads of warm-ups - almost too early before the show and sometimes I even tire my voice out trying to make sure it’s warmed up enough. But to be honest, I kind of just chill and listen to music before a show.
Weirdly, I can't even really remember properly because it was that long ago since I last did a show. But recently I had my first show in front of a live crowd. Amazing. It was in front of like 6,000 people I think. We were supporting Anne Marie up north in Preston and it was sick. It was so good. I’ll be honest, I kept thinking 'everyone has forgotten about me, no one really cares anymore, it's been too long'. But then they were chanting my name before I went out, and I thought it was just so cool. When I got out there, it was all good, it was great.
You had a unique lockdown experience, landing in the top three of Strictly Come Dancing, but that also came with a degree of isolation away from your family. Did you experience any loneliness and if so, how did you combat that?
Well, the first lockdown was almost a blessing for me. At first, I thought ‘this is amazing, I actually get time off, I've never had time off in the last three years’. It was very well needed. But then the second lockdown wasn't very good at all, I was over it, I wanted to get back out. No live shows were happening, music was dead, everything was pretty much on the floor. Emotions were a roller coaster. Some days I'd be creative, other days, I was so bored and just didn't know what to do - every day was the same. All that changed when I got offered to be on Strictly and it was kind of like a little lifeline because I could actually do something for three months of my life and bring joy to people on TV because they were also not doing anything. I was isolated from my family but my dance partner Jeanette was incredible. So we had a really, really good laugh with everyone else on the set, it was really cool. We were one of the only live TV shows. It was actually happening during the proper thick of the pandemic. The ratings were great, everyone was at home watching so it was a really good experience. I'm really glad I did it because it helped me deal with the boredom and loneliness.
I imagine your experience on Strictly has enabled you to experiment with a lot more choreography for your performances?
Yeah, it did. Since I was young, I've always been singing, acting and dancing, but I never went to any kind of specialised school and never trained, nothing like that. I suppose you could say it comes naturally to me, so I think that's why I'm not too bad. When you find out you enjoy something, you really put your heart into it and I am passionate about dancing just as much as I am singing. Now definitely on stage, I'm more confident on choreography - even Latin or Ballroom. I manage to pick up commercial choreography a lot quicker now because for months I was trying to learn so many different steps every single day.
On the topic of dancing, let’s discuss your first single of the year, 1 Day 2 Nights. Tell us about the meaning behind this track?
I was writing - not sad music - just chill music, the stuff I love listening to and then went to the studio to record. We were kind of writing this ballad song and it got to halfway through and I was like you know what, I don't feel like the world needs another slow song right now. Clubs are going to reopen, parties are going to go ahead, no one's going to want to listen to this; we need something that’s going to be dancey. So I was like, how can we make the most clubby, dancey track possible? This isn’t even a joke, but we tried to make it so annoyingly thick, so it’s just like ‘dum, da da dum, da da dum’. We did try to dial it down, but then I was like, 'you know what, this is actually quite good, it actually kind of bops!'. So we ended up writing it in literally an hour, and it got to the end of the day, it was a complete accident. I just remember thinking this could be quite a good summer one, maybe people might enjoy it in clubs and stuff like that.
I feel like when things turn out quickly, they're always meant to be.
Even if it’s an accident, it can be a good accident. Definitely.
So you were discovered after uploading videos of yourself singing on Facebook. How has it been growing up in the public eye?
It's funny because no one really knows that stage of my journey, everyone just sees it from about two or three years ago. I remember posting my first cover when I was around 13 on Facebook. It was just me and my mate who played guitar - well he didn’t but he did, he started to learn basic chords - and it was a bit rusty from both of us, but we put it out anyway, more just to our mates. I remember hitting 1,000 likes on one of the covers and it went mad at school, everyone was refreshing their phones - and to hit 1,000 was mad back then! I'd start gaining traction on Facebook and everyone's saying "That’s that famous kid online, that Facebook famous guy" - and it was cool, I was younger - but I didn't really love it to be honest. I didn't like the spotlight. I didn't like anyone talking about it, I tried to keep it very separate from my school life. I got asked to sing in assembly and I was like 'I'd actually rather get swallowed up'!. But that was how it all started, through Facebook, and things started to go viral. I think I covered Titanium and that went viral, then my manager found me and I got signed to my first record deal when I was 15, and then I signed another when I was 18, and just signed a new one, so we love a record deal here! But again, I really am just winging it, just trying to make it but it’s felt like the most major accident. I’m just so lucky.
How do you deal with some of the pressures that come with growing up in the public eye?
It’s frustrating because if I could tell my younger self now how cool it is, that there’s nothing to be ashamed of, that you should walk around and be like, yeah, that's me, soak it up - I would! Back then, I really didn’t like seeing anything on Facebook, I didn’t want to talk about it. I'd be in school and a girl from a younger year would be like "Oh my god, like, you're HRVY, can I get a picture?". It was weird. Then some of the older boys would see it and they'd say things. I had quite a strong support system in my mates so if anyone would say anything, it really wouldn't bother me but I just really wish that my younger self would have understood that a bit more… It was pretty tough. But now, I'm very lucky and glad to be sitting here. I just built my first house! I can’t say it enough, I’m very lucky.
What advice would you give to a young artist who is trying to be discovered?
I'd say, whatever platform you're on, be consistent and enjoy the stuff that you put out. It got to a point on Facebook where I wasn’t enjoying doing covers, I was doing it just because I felt like I had to and I finally realised I was ready to hop off Facebook and move onto new things. Okay, I admit it's hard not to get distracted by the likes and the views and how the analytics work, but it takes the fun and creativity out of it. Now I tend to not look at that stuff, I let the record label people look at that stuff. Now I don’t pass on the stuff that I enjoy because it’s easy to put too much pressure on yourself. So Be consistent and enjoy yourself!
You’ve collaborated with a range of different artists including Sigala, R3HAB, Nina Nesbit, and K-pop group NCT Dream. What have you learnt from some of your colleagues in the industry?
Honestly, it’s always so cool working with different artists, producers, and writers. The strange thing is, it's often such a short experience. You get a certain song, then a producer would love to work with you on it. "Can you do the vocals?". Yeah, cool. So you do the vocals, send them over, they mix them. You meet them one day for content, you go to a radio station, you might do a music video and sometimes you become really good friends with them - like Jonas Blue, for example, I’m really good friends with him now. Take R3HAB too, we speak, but he lives in Dubai. It’s one of those things in music, it’s so easy to connect and collaborate with people regardless of where you are in the world, sometimes you don't even meet these people; it’s bittersweet, you don't even get that kind of bonding experience.
But with NCT Dream, I went out to South Korea and I did a music video with them and I spent time with them all. I wrote a song and I brought it over and they loved it. It was so cool, they always look like fashion icons out there. It was one of the most fun collaborations I've ever done and I was able to see their culture, they just brought me straight into it. So I speak to them now and then even though they don't even speak English. Bro, you can get on with anyone, even if they don't speak your language!
I’m curious about your creative process. What are your key ingredients in producing a new single?
The thing that I'm focused on most when it comes to writing and recording songs is the melodies. Sometimes I think it might be a boy thing - I feel like we don’t listen to lyrics as much as girls. My mum and my girl mates, I'll pay them a song and they’ll be like, "Ah, those lyrics!" or "What did that lyric mean?" and I’m like, I didn't even know you're listening to that! I'm a melody person, when I listen to a song, I'm listening to how they sing it, I'm not really as much into the lyrics. I don't know why. There are some things I need to work on lyrically, but they’re the main ingredients you need to have.
I guess in a way, lyrics themselves can also be the melody, they go hand in hand…
They go hand in hand, exactly. You know SZA, I love her so much, but sometimes I haven’t a clue what she's saying. She could be saying anything, she could be offending me and I’m passing along listening to how her voice blends perfectly with the melody. It just proves that sometimes it isn't one or the other.
Would you describe yourself as an emotional person?
That’s a hard question. I feel like it's slowly - very slowly - starting to change. About three years ago, I was like a rock, like nothing, not emotional at all. I didn't think crying was good for you because you need to be strong, bla bla bla. But as I'm getting older, I find myself slightly tearing up over stuff, I'm starting to get more emotional which I'm really happy about. I'm starting to show that I'm a bit more human. I suppose though as you grow up, you just learn to understand emotions more. But I’ve still got a lot to learn, understanding things like heartbreak. I even wrote a song called Heartbroken, because I want to feel what love is, and loss. I suppose it will come when it comes and I’m not going to force it. But yeah, I don't know what changed exactly, it just did. I'm an Aquarius, and apparently - I don't know much about this stuff – Aquarius' find it hard to show their emotions.
Have you learned anything new about yourself during the pandemic?
Yeah, I learned to be patient and appreciate everything I have. Up until that point, my life was so hectic. I was getting on planes a lot, I went to 26 different countries in 2019, it was pretty mental. I did a lot of travelling and I remember being on one plane journey thinking 'I hate this jet lag, this is so annoying'. Then I sat in my room during the lockdown, talking it all through in the back of my head and I realised how lucky I am to get up and get on these planes and go to these countries doing music, meeting people, meeting fans who support me. I ended up taking it all for granted a little bit. I also didn't realise how I didn't show how very thankful I am for everything, so I need to start really showing it, not just thinking about how appreciative I am in the back of my head. This year was definitely a massive wake-up call, realising it could all stop tomorrow - which it did for a whole year.
If not music, where would HRVY be right now?
I think I'd still be within the industry. If not music, I'd love to be an actor. I'd love to go into action, something dramatic. Or I'd find something creative, whether it was like journalism or photography or design. I love houses, it's a passion of mine. I love property - a bit boring - but I love property development. I loved building my own house, I love the architecture, I love the interior design, I did everything myself. I kind of smashed it - I can’t lie, I'm pretty happy with myself! So that's probably something I'd get into if it wasn't for music.
Who are some of your biggest musical inspirations?
When I used to get asked this question, I'd always think ‘oh, who can I say, who would be really cool to say?’ and for years, I would say all the typical, big names. But to be completely honest, when I was growing up, I just watched a lot of YouTube and Facebook, watching people do covers. I really loved that because they took a song and they made it their own, they made it original, their own riffs and runs, they changed the key and they changed the chords and it was so amazing to see something turn into something else. So my inspirations were really just random people on YouTube and Facebook; their covers would make me want to learn how to do runs or learn how to sing higher and all that kind of stuff.
Who would you love to collaborate with in the future?
I'd love to collaborate with Olivia Rodrigo one day. She's around my age, she's an unbelievable songwriter. That'd be like a dream. Someone like her, definitely at the top of my list.
Where is your happy place?
My happy place is here, now, in my home, in my front room. I've got a fire - it’s not cold enough for it just yet. Also my half-finished studio space, it’s my little music room I suppose, I love it.
You entered the music industry about 10 years ago, where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
I hope to see myself with a family, kids and being happy and just doing what I love. Whether that be music, in a movie, maybe a Netflix series, doing an arena tour. I just hope whatever I'm doing, I’m enjoying it.
You're making me feel like there's an acting role somewhere on the horizon…
Oh mate, I've always wanted to act in something. I've got friends who are in Netflix series' and I'm like, I can do that too! So I'm ready for Netflix to message me and be like, listen, we need an English prince in one of our shows, and I’ll be there, pen in hand, waiting to sign the contract.
Can you tell us one thing most people don’t know about you?
Good question. Honestly, I'm really open, I'm open about pretty much everything. Maybe that’s it, what people don’t know about me is that they already know everything about me. I’m an open book.
We’re now over halfway through the year, what are your goals for the rest of 2021?
Releasing new music, finish my house as it's not done yet, and grow my hair out. I just want to look like Leonardo DiCaprio when he was young! I’m just like, how can I achieve that? I need longer hair but mine is so straight and short…watch this space.