Hollis | The Hi-His! of the End of 2013
Hollis Wong-Wear is a poet, performer, songwriter, and community advocate who lives between Seattle, WA, and Los Angeles. She is the lead vocalist of the Seattle-based electronic R&B trio The Flavr Blue, and was GRAMMY nominated for Album of the Year for her vocal performance of “White Walls” on The Heist by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
Hollis, Hollis Wong-Wear, poet, performer, singer, songwriter, advocate, topline, seattle, los angeles, writer, author, Macklemore, Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, White Walls, featured, vocalist, The Flavr Blue, Flavr Blue, Love Notes, Bright Vices,
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The Hi-His! of the End of 2013

Hey friends! I haven’t blogged in f-o-r-e-v-e-r and so much has happened since I have. Surprise, I’m on a plane! The only place I can find peace… Before I launch into my journey to the Grammys (!!!) and my amazing week in Los Angeles – a trip I know that was fundamentally life-changing for me – I want to highlight a few awesome thangs that went down towards the end of 2013.

Bright Vices Cover

  •  In October, my band The Flavr Blue released our EP Bright Vices, five songs that I am incredibly proud to be a part of, and a project I feel authentically expresses us as artists and collaborators. We had a blast, we got weird and creative, and I pushed myself as a songwriter and a vocalist more than ever. Since the release, we’ve been honored to get love from outlets like Google Play, who named us a Top Alt/Indie Artist to watch in 2014, Band of the Day, Diffuser.fm, a choice premiere on Esquire.com, and more. Special shoutout to Rob Krauser of Rek Room Media for making much of it possible. You can click here to download the EP for free at our website, or stream it on Spotify below.

  •  In November, I travelled to New York City to perform “White Walls” with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis for three sold-out nights at the Theater at Madison Square Garden. It’s always a blast to perform with the traveling troupe – who had been beasting through a European and US arena tour for two months – and feel the shift up in momentum from when we were touring the East Coast and playing mid-sized clubs and theaters exactly one year before. It’s weird to say that a room of 5,500 people felt intimate, but for the scale that M&RL are at now, and the spectacle of the show, the Theater at Madison Square Garden was almost cozy, and the energy was through the roof. It was especially exhilarating to perform “White Walls” as it was climbing the radio charts, and it seemed like every single person in the crowd was enthusiastically singing the chorus along with me. Talk about electrifying. What’s more, we as The Flavr Blue performed at the famed Mercury Lounge, a late-night show on the last night of the M&RL shows; I literally stepped off stage, tugged on some pants, and hailed a taxi over to the club with about fifteen minutes to spare before I hit the stage with my band to a packed house of over 200 people who were there to see and dance with us to our new material. It was a double header that made me proud and insanely grateful to be doing what I love: performing with my friends, giving everything I have for people to connect and have a great time.

Mercury Lounge

In addition to performing, we also had great meetings with Spotify, BMI, Fader/Cornerstone (where we got laced with some awesome Pumas – thanks guys!), and more.

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  •  In December, the Macklemovement finally touched down on home turf, and we performed for three sold-ouuuuut nights at Seattle’s Key Arena, for a total of at least 45,000 screaming Seattleites. I know that CenturyLink Stadium during a Seahawks game is supposed to hold the record for loudest crowd, but I think that the Key Arena during a Macklemore concert could definitely give it a run for its money. It’s perhaps impossible to put into words how empowered and glowing I felt to step out on that stage and feel the love from Seattle, which was the fire that blazed the trail for M&RL’s – and all of our – success. It was a thrill, and it was an affirmation. And again, an arena singing along to some words you chaffed up in the studio one night? It’ll never not be crazy for me. I also was extremely thankful to rock the beautiful work of local Seattle designer Chrissy Wai-Ching – it felt awesome to showcase her work on that stage.

Chrissy 2

Less than a week after rocking the Key Arena with M&RL, I was back in the maze of locker rooms and echoey passageways for an entirely different performance: to sing the National Anthem for the finals of the NCAA Volleyball Tournament. Here’s the thang: I had *never* sung the National Anthem publicly before, let alone solo, let alone to a crowd of 10,000. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had to sing something solo and a cappella, let alone tackle one of the most challenging vocal performances. I was literally singing “Oh say can you see/ through the dawn’s early light” when I started rehearsing. To relay that I was nervous to flop would be an understatement. Luckily, I found an amazing and affirming vocal coach in Sue Carr, who gave me the confidence I truly needed to endeavor for this performance. I also appreciated a late-night Youtube session with my homies John and Devin the night before I performed watching all of the memorably horrible National Anthem performances as a reminder of what *not* to do.

Kaija

It was kind of hilarious how different it felt to perform in Key Arena under the different circumstances: no pyro, no dancers, no Macklemore… juuuuust ME! And despite my training, my body kinda tripped out a little bit as I took my first breath to sing. It reminded me a little bit of my performance at the Tonight Show, and how drastic it feels to perform when the audience– and that energy– isn’t within reach. I felt the space all around me; palpable solitude. I did knock through the song, and my mom, who was seated in the audience and is famously my harshest critic second to myself, texted me with great enthusiasm right when I walked off the floor. I’d give myself a 7.5, but if Mom says I’m doing a good job, I’m gonna go with that. I’m also ready to sing the National Anthem at whatever sporting or public events want me to in 2014 and beyond…. What’s up Seahawks…. Holler at your girl….

Anthem Crowd

little me in the red dress in front of all of the people… eep!

I ended my 2013 in probably the best way ever: with two shows at Doe Bay Resort on Orcas Island, my number one retreat and getaway place, where I got to take my family for the first time for our Christmas. It feels like a perfect summer camp out there, and the views are breathtaking.

Doe Bay

Then I returned back to Seattle and rang in the New Year performing with The Flavr Blue for a sold-out crowd at The Crocodile. We had such a sparkling time. In Chinese culture, the tradition is that you set the tone for the year ahead by what you do when the clock strikes midnight into the New Year. I truly can’t complain about the way I rang in mine.

NYE13

If someone asked me to condense the totality of my 2013 into a single word, it’d be “growth.” I grew as a vocalist, a songwriter, a savvy business minded artist, and as a human being. I’d like to think I grew my patience and my empathy, tempered my expectations and my anxiety, and built my capacity to make firm commitments and hard decisions that valued myself and my relationships. I got thrown into some crazy situations and felt grateful for the support I feel from all sides to push me to be my best. 2014 is just getting started, and it’s already amped up times ten. Thankful for those who have been following along, and know you are much appreciated.

On the NEXT episode: GRAMMY MADNESS + a first taste of LA… certainly not the last! :)

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