It seems most appropriately, yet unfortunately, timed that in lieu of the tragedy in Orlando, Florida, I find myself sitting here listening to a song with a message about acceptance and spreading kindness rather than hate. “Misfit” as performed by Jason Reeves and Nelly Joy of pop-duo, High Dive Heart, promotes individuality and raises awareness about the potential repercussions of bullying. The recent cowardly and terroristic events in Orlando were committed through fear and hate. High Dive Heart seeks to knock down barriers that intolerance so often creates. On a lighter, note, High Dive Heart has no shortage of video views and audio streams. Jason Reeves’ 2011 solo album The Lovesick independently reached #5 on the iTunes pop charts, proving that the pop formula continues to have its appeal. Most recently, High Dive Heart is set to release their six track EP HDH vs. MTR (Part One) late this summer.
Q: Hi Jason! Hi Nelly! Great to talk with both of you! First of all, I want to avoid creating any kind of trendy vibes because I find it insensitive when national tragedies are reduced to the likes of hashtags. But honestly, our chat is very relevant due to recent events. Tell us, in your words, about “Misfit” and how, in the end, resilience wins over hate?
A: Hey! Great to talk with you as well. Thanks for these questions. Our world is such a razor edge balance of blinding beauty and horrific madness. There is so much love and so much hate. There are truly no words for the tragedies that continue to occur everywhere around the world. Somehow we have to figure out how to end the senseless violence and find real peace. Our new single “ Misfit” (http://bit.ly/1VxcRHT) is an attempt to stand up against a specific element of the hate monster: bullying. This social epidemic is spreading like wildfire and is especially bad online. We wanted to encourage people who feel like they don’t fit in to feel beautiful being different. We wanted them to feel safe being themselves. We also wanted to stand up to all the bullies out there. Kids are losing their lives or having them ruined everyday and it has to change. It’s not just kids. It’s everyone. We are all misfits and all deserve to be loved and treated the same.
Q: You worked with transgender activist Corey Maison to create a video that premiered on The Bully Project. Tell me about working with Corey.
A: Corey is such a brave, inspiring, beautiful girl. Her story has moved us and millions of others because of its vulnerability and strength (SmartUrl.it/MisfitFB). The courage it took to share her experiences with the world is unbelievable and rare. We’re grateful she wanted to tell her story to our song. Working with someone like her is why we do what we do. We want to spread light and love and that’s exactly what Corey does. We could all learn something from her.
Q: There’s a line in “Misfit” that, in my opinion, portrays the magnitude at which words can hurt, which is “stones and sticks and bullets from lips”. Though we can’t completely eliminate prejudices in this world, do you think society has progressed through the years in terms of tolerance and acceptance?
A: We think society has made extraordinary progress in the arena of tolerance and acceptance. That being said, we still have so far to go. It seems like every time we take a giant step forward, we’re pulled back again by unimaginable ignorance. As our culture gains awareness and knowledge through experience and education, we will become more accepting of every kind of person. Even though we’ve achieved some incredible milestones in the recent decades, there is still so much hate and misunderstanding. Our hopes are that over time we’ll arrive at a place in our consciousness that will allow true peace and love everywhere on earth.
Q: To change gears on you a little, let’s talk about your upcoming EP! Morgan Taylor Reid, who has worked with the Backstreet Boys, produced your EP. Tell me about it.
A: Morgan is a sonic wizard and a brilliant songwriter and an amazing guy all rolled into one. We met him separately through songwriting in LA and knew we needed to work with him on High Dive Heart. He brings an edgier sound to our music and opened up a universe of sound we’ve never travelled to before. Recording with him feels limitless because of his capability of capturing what we’re all hearing in our heads. Our forthcoming EP is called HDH VS. MTR (Part One) and is due out late summer.
Q: And why Part One? Is there more to come later?
A: There is definitely a Part Two coming! We are actually about halfway done with it and are taking this summer to finish writing and recording the other half. We’ve recorded this album in both LA and Nashville and it’s fun going back and forth between to the two places. Their heavily contrasting vibes makes creating exciting and we pull unique inspiration from both atmospheres.
Q: High Dive Heart really nailed the pop equation. So often, pop gets stale very quickly. You two seem to be very passionate about each other and what you do. How do you stay creative in a genre that is often over produced, heavily dubbed and has a short shelf life?
A: Thank you first of all! We are definitely very passionate about each other and the music we make together. It’s such an incredible gift to be able to write, record and perform songs with someone you love and respect immensely. Although you’re right about pop music often being stale, we love making music in the pop arena because the possibilities are absolutely infinite. The only thing “pop” means is popular and at any moment any music can become popular. We want our songs to resonate with everyone in the world and our message can be boiled down to loving each other as brightly as humanly possible. We want to tear down all the imaginary walls and connect every lonely broken heart together.
Q: I get a strong country/pop vibe in your tracks. How has being from both Nashville and Los Angeles influenced your music?
A: We definitely have a bit of both genres in our music. We come from both sides and each of us has been inspired by every kind of music, including county and pop. Our first EP has more of a country influence than our new one though. HDH vs. MTR (Part One) is much more pop oriented in the songwriting and production. We wanted to make a significant evolution of our sound while maintaining the same heart in the songs. Both of us have been making music in both LA and Nashville for years and we don’t plan on stopping soon. They’re both incredible places to create and there are so many insanely talented people to collaborate with.
Q: Your song “Vintage” from the Sonic Graffiti EP has racked up a lot of spotify plays! You infectiously sing about wanting a vintage love like a Hendrix solo through a Marshall stack. Is this a love song for each other?
A: It’s amazing what has happened with “Vintage”. It caught fire on Spotify and quickly went to #1 on the Global Viral Chart, which was a pretty unbelievable thing to happen to the first song we ever put out as High Dive Heart. Yes, it is a love song for each other. We wrote it with our friend and genius music maker Nathan Chapman (Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum) who is also married to a wonderful songwriter. We wanted to write a song about falling more in love with somebody every day, and that seems easier when you can write and sing song for each other. Beyond that, it’s also a love song for all things vintage. Things that are timeless and worn in and tangible. We love old things that have soul and don’t want to let them go. With our world going digital so quickly it feels like many things are becoming illusions. “Vintage” is about appreciating real things that move us in real ways, like love and photography and vinyl.
Q: What is happening for High Dive Heart this summer?
A: This summer we are in the studio finishing up HDH VS. MTR (Part 2) and getting ready for a very exciting fall tour we can’t quite announce yet. We will be working with both Nathan Chapman (who produced our debut EP) and Morgan Taylor Reid at our studio in the wooded hills of Tennessee. We can’t wait for you to hear what happens!!
Nelly and Jason, thank you both so much! I really get the vibe in your music that you want people to be happy and not hateful. I commend you for spreading the positive vibes!
Thank YOU for taking the time to do this interview! We absolutely want to spread joy and love and brightness and vibrant color throughout our world. We appreciate you digging that. Thank you for listening and have a beautiful day!! XO – HDH
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Writer: Amanda Knight