interview. Revealing the enchanting sound of HJ Soul in ‘Illusions’

"The idea of 'love' in this concept is that it is an 'illusion' if it is a pretence, although 'real love' is something that will help us to grow as a civilisation."
8 November 2023

HJ Soul presents his latest EP, Illusions. A rich and expansive tone is created by the smoothly woven tapestry of soul, R&B, and electronic influences in each track. The EP unfolds like a carefully crafted story, with HJ Soul’s versatile sonic palette ranging from soul-stirring ballads to rhythmic, groove-infused tracks.

‘Illusions’ is a captivating solo venture, showcasing enchanting melodies, irresistibly magnetic progressions, and a continuous narrative of love. The journey culminates in the final track, Wanna Feel Your Body, complemented by an appropriately lush accompanying music video.

The EP invites listeners to break free from reality, offering a transformative experience that lingers in the mind and heart.

HJ Soul invites us to break free from reality, creating a transformative experience that lingers in the mind and heart.

The idea of ‘love’ in this concept is that it is an ‘illusion’ if it is a pretence, although ‘real love’ is something that will help us to grow as a civilisation.

Your latest EP, ‘Illusions,‘ explores various facets of romance and relationships. Can you walk us through the inspiration behind the intricate love stories woven throughout the six tracks?

This song and the EP Illusions delve into the complexities of relationships, highlighting how unspoken expectations can complicate matters. Within the song lyrics, I subtly pronounce the subconscious desires and expectations that exist within relationships, often referred to as ‘Illusions’ due to their unrealized nature. Beyond romantic love, I also explore a broader interpretation of love, talking about the importance of helping individuals realize their fullest potential in life, free of societal constraints. With something for every kind of relationship or just appreciated for its sheer artistry, Friday Evening from the Illusions EP is certainly not a song to miss.

Wanna Feel Your Body,’ comes with an accompanying music video. What inspired the visual representation for this particular track?

In general I felt the words I wrote for each song in the EP told me a different romantic story of where the individuals were in that relationship in that particular time, and I felt with the song ‘Wanna Feel Your Body’ the words within the song allowed me to elaborate the visions in my mind a little more than the other songs. The verses within this song had the words that could tell a romantic story in a more visual way. For example, the line ‘Envisioned if you opened up the door’ and the lines that follow in the verse, created this cinematic effect where the anticipation of the romance is built up through each scene that follows next within the music video as the individuals start to get closer through the words of the song. It continues to make the audience wonder about the way the romance will evolve throughout each scene, and creates this wonder of where the music video will visually take you in the next scenes. This is especially at the key change at the end of the song, where the effects have been put in slow motion to work well with the key change.

Within ‘Illusions,’ you explore the intricacies of relationships and the consequences of unspoken expectations. Could you elaborate on your perspective regarding the crucial role that effective communication plays in navigating these complexities?

It was an absolute pleasure to create an EP with so much creativity and thought, where a love story could be told in so many different ways within each song. The romance that can go into a relationship can be complicated at times due to certain ‘so called’ expectations between each individual without the ability of being able to truly communicate those needs within the relationship itself. The words that I wrote within each song of the EP are actually subconscious feelings of these thoughts (expectations) between each individual of a potential love affair that could exist, that are merely ‘Illusions’ at the moment (hence the name of the EP), although could exist if each individual within the relationship could surpass their own limiting boundaries and communicate their thoughts and needs, so that the ‘illusion’ of ‘separateness’ between each individual could perhaps instead manifest into a prospering relationship. Some of the wording within the songs themselves almost try to convey that this romantic bond is already there, through their subconscious body language expressing affection between each individual in the most elegant of ways. I have also included another perspective of the concept of love within this EP, and how it can be interpreted in another way within life which has particularly been expressed within the words of the song ‘See Through The Illusion’. Love can also be seen in a different light as well, and that can be achieved through helping individuals to achieve their best potential in life without being controlled by the constraints of what their own particular societies of how life should be followed. The idea of ‘love’ in this concept is that it is an ‘illusion’ if it is a pretence, although ‘real love’ is something that will help us to grow as a civilisation.

Your musical journey began with soulful renditions of classic hits. How has your transition into a prolific songwriter allowed you to express your personal experiences and spirituality through your music?

I enjoy listening to these classic soul songs from the earlier decades, including many of those wonderful soul groups around that time. These singers encouraged me to create the musical sounds that I have improvised within my own music, along with a modern style for it to sound relevant to today’s music. The sounds from that particular time inspired me to get into music, and to produce my own original songs with a sound that could be a spin-off from the style of those singers around that time. This style along with my spirituality allowed me to create songs which not only had a soulful or tranquil feel to them, in addition to this, the words of the songs also had soul with them because of their philanthropic nature as they talk about the very essence of life. This intertwining of the choice of words and sultry sounds went well together to create my own unique sound as a singer-songwriter. I cannot wait to produce my next song releases with this idea.

Your dedication to mental health awareness is evident in the single ‘Can’t Take This Anymore.’ Can you share more about your motivation behind creating music that addresses such important societal issues?

This single was dedicated towards the mental health awareness month, especially, as it was released around that time as well to talk about a very important topic of today. My motivation in creating this song was to help individuals who have been through the most challenging of times with mental health, and that the song talks about the importance of knowing that there’s always somebody there to talk to whom they trust, whether that’s a close person to them or anybody else in that capacity as the words in the song suggest. It is a very important societal issue as a lot of people feel that they’re not able to share their thoughts with people due to any particular limiting cyclic patterns in their mind, although keeping the thoughts in only causes more issues by pushing them away. The words of the song stress the importance of talking to people who the individual can open up to and this can help them to live a fulfilling life, so that they can also enhance their quality of life as well. A lot of people have gone through mental health problems and still do today, and so it would be fantastic if the words in the song could help people to at least start to help themselves towards thinking about getting any sort of treatment or speaking to people they trust. It is also rewarding to think that it is possible to help people through music, and I am contributing to helping people who you would think never needed help from the outside.

What was the first album you purchased?

I don’t think I have purchased a particular album. I do listen to music when I can through different ways whether that’s through radio or television, and when I do get to hear a song that I like, that’s when I listen to the song or songs within an album.

Who would your 3 most played artists on Spotify be?

My 3 most played artists on Spotify would be Brandy, Snoh Aalegra and Stevie Wonder.

Do you have any hobbies?

I like to play and watch some sports that I have an interest with as that’s a fantastic way to unwind, and I also like to listen to different artists songs and style of music, to see the ways they can inspire me when I am creating my own original songs as a singer-songwriter.  

What is the one song you wished you could have written yourself?

I don’t think I would like any lyrics written by another artist to be my song, as the lyrics of those songs have been written by that specific artist, and so is original to that particular artist. I like to be authentic with my music, and so I wouldn’t have then perhaps connected to those lyrics. I wouldn’t wish to have written any song created by another artist, as I like to think that originality is what helps to make you have your own sound and makes you unique as a singer-songwriter.

How would you describe your perfect day

My perfect day quite simply put would be to have a day where I am at peace in my mind, and that I am also doing what I love to do in life which is creating music as a singer songwriter.