Ask any successful artist, in any genre, how they made it to where they are. The answer will always be a different version of the same thing: determination and self-motivation. There is no roadmap to pursuing the arts. Instead, it’s a field where a college degree is mostly meaningless, measures of what’s “good” or “bad” are entirely subjective, and the amount of competition is astronomical. That’s why the ideas of determination and self-motivation are so universal. They are simple to understand but not necessarily easy. House music is inherently simple, yet so many replaceable tracks are attempting to follow formulas based on previous hit records. To transform that simplicity into something that captures your soul takes determination and self-motivation, just like building a career as an artist, and HoneyLuv—real name Taylor Character—has accomplished both of those impressive feats. “When you have those two things, honestly, anything is possible. And also speaking positivity into the universe because the words that you put out into the world are very powerful. The universe is listening,” Character tells Gray Area over Zoom from Los Angeles. Character didn’t begin speaking a career in producing and DJing into the universe until a few years ago, but the universe surrounded her with music from a very young age. She has memories as far back as three and four years old of riding around in her father’s purple drop-top Mustang in her hometown of Cleveland, Ohio, listening to old R&B songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s. “From there it started,” Character says of her fascination with music. “Music is everywhere. You really can’t escape it, and so it’s best to just embrace it. Literally everywhere you turn there is music.” Amidst an atmosphere consistently swirling with music, Character’s mother introduced her to house. She’d play it all the time, and one track that still sticks with Character to this day is “Your Love,” by house music legend Frankie Knuckles. Character heard it when she was growing up and then again when she played the popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, wherein “Your Love” is featured on one of the radio stations. The track continued to inspire something deep within her. “This song is a classic. It’s just timeless,” Character says. “I wished I could make something as dope as that or something as classic and timeless as that.” Once the bug to make house music had buried itself under her skin, the determination and self-motivation to become an artist began, even if Character didn’t realize it herself. Character’s introduction to DJing came, in some ways, by force. She moved to Los Angeles in 2016 after the Navy stationed her there, and her friends in the city twisted her arm into DJing because she would play all the good songs on the aux cord. “I kept the energy going when we were in the car,” Character says. “So they just kept pressuring me to do DJing, and at first I was reluctant, but they kept pushing me and pushing me and then eventually I gave in.” Character bought her first DJ controller, and that’s when her determination and self-motivation kicked into high gear. She practiced every day in the barracks at the military base after work. Character was already playing gigs at R&B and hip hop parties within a couple of months. She wanted to play house music parties, but she only knew people in the realm of R&B and hip hop. Then the pandemic closed all the parties, but that didn’t slow her down. Instead, she recognized a huge opportunity to start playing house music on Twitch, and before long, she was playing streams for major channels like Desert Hearts, Groove Cruise, and LP Giobbi’s Femme House. In December 2020, when the scene was still remanded to live streams, Character left the military and started taking production courses the following month at The Los Angeles Recording School. “I started grinding into making music because I knew that was the only way that I could actually excel to higher heights,” Character says. The universe was listening, and she’s been transcending ever since. Soon after restrictions started to relax, she met one of the founders of the LA via San Francisco label, Popgang Records, at a gig, and within a few weeks, they released her debut, “Free.” With original tracks to her name alongside a solid reputation from Twitch and the experience of an open format DJ, Character had the CV to reach out to promoters all on her own for house music gigs. One of those gigs was a show at The Flamingo Deck in San Diego, supporting Dirtybird’s VNSSA. Character connected with VNSSA’s agent, and they hit it off. And just like that, Character was opening for Chris Lake at the Brooklyn Mirage and playing Insomniac festivals. “We had a meeting I think that following week, and then literally after that meeting a week later he had me on all these festivals, and so it happened pretty fast,” Character says. In 2022, she is already scheduled to play Skyline and Beyond Wonderland, and she just dropped her debut single on Insomniac Records, “Your Tongue.” Character created success in a timeframe that’s unheard of through determination, self-motivation, and a bit of trust in the universe. That’s the secret sauce, but it’s so deceptively simple. One must apply these tenants to every aspect of their life, not just music. Determination and self-motivation must drive every decision at all times. They must become a part of someone’s humanity. That’s when the universe will start to listen. “If you have all those three things intact and you stay consistent with what you want, things are bound to happen,” Character says. “I never wanted to be comfortable in anything that I’m doing. I never wanted to be satisfied. I don’t want to be a regular. I just wanted more out of life, and I’ve always been like that since I was little.”
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