‘For creatives, lockdown’s been a blessing in disguise’: HGZ on music, mental health and the future of nightlife culture

Nyse speaks to Bath-based producer HGZ about telling stories through his music 

If there’s one thing you need to know about HGZ (or Henry Daniel Hegarty), is that the guy is prolific. At 15, he decided to forgo weekend parties and night out spending hours locked up in his room producing music of his own – all because he had a vision. At seventeen, Henry’s dreams became a reality, signing a contract with Future Label House. And now, fresh out of a gap year and entering university he’s racked up three million streams that cover more than 70 countries. 

Henry’s 2020 release Riverside introduced a new sound and a new vision with it, serving as a refreshing anthem of rebirth and new identity. It’s his first song with lyrics, and the musician/DJ/producer is enjoying a new process of self-discovery in order to ‘tell more stories’ through his songs. From his home in Bath, Henry used some of his newfound spare time in lockdown to get on a call with us and answer a long list of questions. “People enjoy talking about themselves anyway,” he said, with a bemused smile.

Riverside is your first song labelled under Henry Daniel instead of HGZ. What’s the story behind that?

Well, Riverside is my first song with lyrics. That’s why I put it under Henry Daniel. It feels more ‘me’. I released it to get a reaction and am bouncing off people’s feedback. My goal is to tell more stories through my music, and using ‘Henry Daniel’ is a way to get there.

What kind of stories do you want to tell?

Everything and anything. I went to Norway with a few people for example. We challenged ourselves to create a song from scratch in ten hours. It felt intense so I told everyone to sit down and talk. We began speaking about our lives over a cup of coffee. It’s interesting how you don’t have to scratch so far beneath the surface before you learn something truly profound about the people around you, whether it’s about relationships, mental health.. I guess I want songs around that, relationships and mental health-things people grapple with everyday.

You seem keen to focus on mental health…

I’m passionate about mental health. LAUV is a big inspiration for me, especially his song Modern Loneliness. There’s a lack of mental health awareness in the music industry but it’s getting better. I want to use my platform as a way to help. At the end of the day we’re all people with shit struggles. Music should resonate our realities, so to speak. I got into a rut in January where I couldn’t create music because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. We all have our hard times.

Tell us more about your struggles in the music industry?

At the start of January I was drinking a lot because I felt like I couldn’t create anything worth listening to. I saw all of these artists and thought, ‘Man, I can’t compete with that!’ But then I woke up and thought this was all getting a little ridiculous. 

I set myself a goal where I told myself I wouldn’t listen to any song. I got up, went to the gym, learnt about marketing, Forex, anything that wasn’t music. Then after that pause I knew I was ready to jump back in. We all need that break sometimes.

Let’s talk about the current pandemic. How do you think it has changed the music industry?

It’s been a blessing in disguise. Isolation time has been an opportunity to create more, so I went all out for the first five or six weeks. For upcoming artists it’s been great. Take Curtis Waters, who self released a song which topped the charts. It’s come to show that ‘hey, if you want it, you can make it,”

It’s had an impact on nightlife though. I was meant to be DJ-ing in Cyprus but that had to be cancelled and moved to September. But you think to yourself, “There’s so much going on and you’re upset an event’s been postponed?” You suck it up and go back to the drawing board. 

Do you see music culture changing after this pandemic then?

Absolutely. It’s shown a lot of artists that you’re only one YouTube video away from creating a music video. Around Bath and Bristol but also everywhere. Nightlife will be back. It’s the change in mentality that I’m excited about. 

Where to find Henry:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/6wPccrD5CFI3PJq9MAZIOM

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hgzmusic/

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/henry.hegarty.35

Support more young people to have their voices heard

Rife is Watershed‘s online magazine created for young people, by young people.

We offer paid internships and publish work by young writers, photographers, illustrators, and filmmakers from all sorts of backgrounds, helping them get into creative careers. Rife has reached over 8,000 young people through our workshops, over 220 young people have made stuff for Rife on topics ranging from mental health to identity to baked beans, and last year, over 200,000 people visited our website.

In these complex and uncertain times hearing from and supporting young people who are advocating for social change and contributing fresh perspectives has never been so important. 

Through supporting Rife you can ensure that this important work continues and that more young people have their voices heard.