Songwriter/singer/rapper Higgs has been honing his musical skills with various bands in Hawaii since 2005. Over the past five years, his solo career has taken him around Hawaii, the Pacific Northwest, Los Angeles, and back home to Big Island, where he resides.
In 2018, he took first place in the Hawaii Songwriting Festival’s competition for his song “No Plans.” He continues to collaborate with other Hawaii writers and artists and has garnered music placements on TV shows like The Flash and others. He also received a Na Hoku nomination as a member of LifeinPursuit with their album Nickel & Dimin’ It.
Higgs can be seen at various venues and events around the Big Island trying out his new original material.
What was it like winning First Place at the Hawaii Songwriting Festival competition?
Oh, it was just surreal. Honestly, I was just out in the crowd and kind of hanging out with some friends, not really expecting anything. And just to hear my name called was a big moment for me. I got a little emotional to be honest.
For those who have never been to the Hawaii Songwriting Festival, can you give us an overview of the festival experience?
This is my fifth year attending, dating back when it was held on Kauai. I keep ending back at the Festival because there’s so many creative minds in one spot. We’re really blessed to have something like that so close, right in our backyard.
What’s your songwriting experience like? How do you put together a song?
It really varies for me. Maybe I’ll start with a melody in my head and record it on my phone. Almost all of my ideas are floating in my phone somewhere. I’ve got thousands of them. Most of them will probably never see the light of day. But I’m very much a lyrics guy. So, a lot of the songs that I write start with a lyric or an idea that I just either get in my head, or intentionally I’m trying to write about a certain theme or a feeling that I’m feeling at that time. It really varies.
Tell us about your song “The Let Down.”
That’s off of the first E.P. that I wrote back in 2016. The story behind it is that the band I was with at the time showed up at this gig in Waimea, and we were fully expecting to play. We brought all our equipment, and when we got there, someone was already playing. So we talked to the manager, and he said, “Oh yeah, I double-booked you guys. Sorry, you’re not going to be able to play tonight.” So, we packed up the car and went to Starbucks and drowned all our sorrows in coffee and tea. I had the hook of this song in my head, and my friend Keith helped out too.
Do you like writing solo or collaborating with someone?
It really depends. I’m very comfortable writing on my own so that’s normally what I do. Every once in awhile, it’s good to kind of get out of your own head, so to speak, and have different perspectives. And so, for that, I definitely have benefited from writing with others. It can be kind of daunting and it has to definitely be the right person. It’s kind of like a relationship, you know, you have to find someone who really has that magic.
Who are some of the people who you’ve worked with it?
I’ve written with my friend Chase Kauhane quite a bit. He’s got a group called Olelo. They’re putting out some really good material. And besides him, I’ve been able to write with Katie Herzig and Charles Brotman.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve got a full-length rap album coming out. I released my first single off of it about a month and a half ago and the rest of the album should be out in February.
Does it have a title?
Not yet. I’m toying with Autopilot.
Who are you listening to now, and what do you like about their music?
I don’t really have one artist that influenced me. It’s just an accumulation of artists. Right now, there’s a guy I’m listening to named Hobo Johnson and the Love Makers. I just saw them in Seattle… he’s a really interesting rapper, and kind of has his own spin on things. I like music that kind of creates its own sound and it goes off the beaten path a little bit. There’s been a lot of influences over the years. Paul Simon’s definitely influenced my writing a lot. Eminem, you know, and then. The list goes on.
Is there a rap scene here on the Big Island? It’s certainly not getting played much on local radio.
Not too much. It’s kind of an untapped thing. Sudden Rush was the big rap group. In the State I’ve known a few other rappers. I’ve got a buddy on Kauai that’s a brilliant rapper. But as far as the Big Island… I live out in the sticks, so that part of the problem on the Big Island… you don’t always know if there are other rappers out there.
What would you like to see change entertainment-wise on the Big Island?
Besides more venues, and the types of venues. No true artist wants to be tucked in a corner playing background music for somebody’s bar.
What’s the name of your current single?
“No Plans.” I started writing this song when I was in Oregon at my grandparents’ house. They were taking a nap and I kind of had nothing to do. I was just sitting in the room kind of pacing like, “What do I do?” So, I got my ukulele out and I started just messing around and I came up with this hook, like, “Wow, hey, I got no plans.” It was less refined than it is now. It’s like… “Hey, I got no plans, I’m coming back, and I’m frozen.” Over the next year or so, I kind of refined it, added some verses.
To explore more of Higgs’ music and videos, please visit his website: http://www.higgsmusic.com
Watch Higgs at the 2018 Hit Makers Concert: https://bigislandmusic.net/watch-higgs-at-the-2018-hitmakers-concert/