An Interview with Hollis Wong-Wear

We are so excited to have Grammy-nominated Hollis join us at CreativeMornings! She’ll be speaking on May’s theme of FREEDOM and if her speaker Q&A is any indication, it’s going to amazing. We’re still taking names our wait list for the event, so don’t let that stop you from joining us! More info here.

CMSEA: How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

HWW: I define creativity as equal parts imagination and ambition. I think to really explore and apply one’s creativity, it takes that leap of faith to imagine something anew, and a *lot* of work, tenacity and drive to take abstract ideas into real-life. Experimentation, and then dedication. I really try to understand all facets of my career as creative forays - whether I’m shaping and honing my life show as a vocalist and performer with The Flavr Blue, collaborating with someone else on a track, or hustling as a hands-on music video producer. It takes dream and sweat. 

CMSEA: Where do you find your best creative inspiration?

HWW: Growing up, my absolutely favorite thing to do was read. I still love to read novels - they can be so triumphant, creating vivid new realities with simple text and paper. When I delve into novels, I often emerge sparkly and inspired. 

CMSEA: What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you’d known as a young person?

HWW: I recently reconnected with journaling - the three-page-a-day Artist’s Way thing - while on a retreat at Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island. I journaled a lot when I was younger and my habit trailed off because I was “too busy,” or probably just avoiding that introspection. I think in the current landscape of social media it’s so tempting to have our personal documentation be spiffed up and broadcasted for the world to see and affirm, but it’s really important to keep that private documentation going, to face the page. I feel the first half of my twenties would have been much improved by doing so. 

CMSEA: Who would you like to hear speak at CreativeMornings?

HWW: Neko Case!

CMSEA: What practices, rituals or habits contribute to your creative work?

HWW: Even in the digital era, I make sure to write all of my lyrics and ideas by hand. I’ve gone down to LA a couple of times to do writing sessions with different producers and artists and it charms them to see I’m still pen-to-paper. For me it’s important to have a kinetic element to my cerebral writing process, and serves as a great point of reference to what I’m thinking and the key phrases and images going on in my mind. I never seem to open up word documents, but can instantly flip through to what I was thinking and writing the day before. 

CMSEA: What was the best surprise you’ve experienced so far in life?

HWW: Not to be too cliche, but being nominated for a Grammy was a huge surprise. Working on The Heist with Macklemore and Ryan Lewis was an immersive and rewarding process in its own right, and to see how such a Seattle-based, organic collective process could achieve recognition in the most mainstream platform of the music industry was a shock - especially because my name was right there! I had no idea it’d be a possibility but it was definitely a rewarding feeling.