PD: How would you describe yourself or your band as an artist?
EH: Blackened power metal that draws from the light and dark extremes of metal, and everything in between, to weave a rich and complete emotional atmosphere.
PD: Can you tell us briefly about your background – i.e. where you’re from, how you came to make music, etc.
EH: I’m a military kid so I’m not really from anywhere in particular, but I’ve loved singing since I was very young and I started taking guitar lessons at age 12. Music is an inextricable part of all my memories, and though I’ve had many other creative pursuits (writing poetry and novels, drawing, video games, etc.), music is the only one that has really stuck with me for the long term.
PD: Who and what inspires you to make music, both in terms of musical and other influences? What do you like to write about in your songs?
EH: I write my songs to tease out and work through different feelings and internal conflicts I have. My lyrics often resemble prose more than poetry because they’re my way of working through everything that goes on in my head. I’ve also dedicated hundreds of hours to learning different guitar techniques and different singing techniques so that I can more accurately portray a wide variety of ideas and characters in my songs, to keep it fresh for the audience and as a way of “acting” through the music.
PD: What are your aspirations as an artist?
EH: One of my biggest aspirations is to work on major film and video game scores. Soundtracks were my first musical love even before rock and metal, and given the “metal opera”-ish nature of my music, I think it only makes sense that I enjoy bringing stories to life through music.
PD: What is the proudest moment in your music career so far?
EH: My proudest moment so far was getting hired on to compose the score for a short film called “Hallowed Paths.” Not only was it the first time a fan had reached out to me and told me how much he connected with my music, but it was my first larger-budget film scoring project. Though everyone who is working on “Hallowed Paths” is a college student, they are all complete professionals and on their way to becoming masters of their craft, and I feel honored that they chose me to be a part of this.
PD: Promoting one’s music is such a challenge these days, especially with so many new artists emerging from bedrooms in the day of the home studio. How is that going?
EH: To be honest, it’s very difficult, but I’m finally starting to put together a cohesive brand for my music and figuring out who I really am as an artist. I think once I fully understand my own messaging and my artistic strengths, promotion will get easier.
PD: And how do you book and promote your live shows and tours? Any performances coming up?
EH: I’m not a live performer; I’m sticking mainly to the area of sync licensing.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online? What about streaming sites like Spotify?
EH: I don’t share the wrath that many of my peers have toward streaming and downloading, haha. I’ve noticed that most people who say they aren’t getting paid enough through streams and downloads are not following the correct processes to collect the different kinds of royalties available to them. Your distributor (Distrokid, CD Baby, etc.) only collects mechanical royalties from the master track; you need to register with ASCAP or BMI to collect performance royalties, with SoundExchange to collect digital royalties from streaming, and you need to be sure you’re not losing money through repaying advances if you’re signed to a label. Royalty collection is much more complicated than people assume it is.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
EH: I wish I had written “This House Has No Home” by Swallow the Sun. It’s such a perfect combination of elegance and rage that I strive to bring to life in my own music. This song exemplifies how I draw from across the spectrum of the metal genre to build a more complete, more three-dimensional metal experience that people don’t really need to be in a specific mood to enjoy. I feel like many artists limit themselves by staying within the narrow box they’ve chosen for their brand, so I can only listen to them when I’m in a certain headspace, but Swallow the Sun isn’t afraid to be bold and three-dimensional. They have a brand, but not a gimmick. I aspire to make music with that same depth of humanity and emotional freedom.
PD: Is there anything you don’t like about the music industry, which you would change if you could?
EH: This is more about how social media interacts with the music industry, but I hate how difficult it’s gotten to be seen on social media. It used to be easy for your followers to see your posts, but now the algorithms tend to hide your posts and you need to act gimmicky and sales-y in order to be seen. This makes it very difficult to come across as sincere and to let your art speak for itself.
PD: So, what are you working on at the moment?
EH: After a year of focusing on developing my musical skills to elevate my storytelling and expressive abilities, I have returned to focusing entirely on my upcoming third album, Apocrypha, set to be released in late 2024 if law school doesn’t interfere too heavily with my plans.
PD: Where can we learn more about you and buy your music/merch online?
EH: I am most active on Instagram as @legally_metal, but I also have a YouTube channel under the name Exiled Hope, a Bandcamp page where you can find all my original music (exiledhope.bandcamp.com), and a merch store (https://www.bonfire.com/store/exiled-hope-virtual-merch-booth/).