BY KATE TWOMEY//
HoneyLuv dreams big. She dreamed about being a secret agent before deciding to take house music by storm with her genre-fusing and mind-melting sets. Now, she’s dreaming of being the next big name in DJing. Recently named in Billboards’ “Top 10 Dance Artists to Watch in 2022,” it seems like she’s heading there quickly. 2022 has indeed been a big year for HoneyLuv, first with the release of her bouncy, summery hit “Thr33 6ix 5ive” and performing a set at Project GLOW this past weekend alongside the biggest DJs in DC today. Before the festival, she sat down with Kate Twomey of WRGW to talk about unexpected changes, musical influences, and how she’s liking her new lifestyle.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
K8: Alright! I’m here talking with HoneyLuv, up and coming DJ who’s been hitting the decks for the past two years and has since become one of the hottest newcomers to watch. HoneyLuv– you’re playing Project GLOW this weekend, you just released your single Thr33 6ix 5ive…there’s a lot going on! How are you doing?
HoneyLuv: What’s up! I’m doing amazing. It’s a great time to go to a festival.
K8: For real. Thanks for sitting down with WRGW. You used to live right next to us in Virginia, but you were born in Cleveland and are now based in LA.
HoneyLuv: Right. When I was 16 was when I moved away from Cleveland to Virginia, because my mom and her husband got government jobs. It was crazy moving to Virginia because I wasn’t used to a whole lot of cultures, but then there were just so many different types of neighbors and foods, so that’s why DC really has my heart. I would go there every weekend.
K8: Since music is so local and I know you used to have your own radio show where you showcased different underground house scenes, I was wondering how you think living in these places has influenced the dance music you’re into?
HoneyLuv: Well, growing up in Cleveland, it was more the underground Detroit house music. We were living right there, and it was the music my mom played while I was growing up. When I got to DC, it was go-go music, which is a form of house music. I absolutely fell in love with it, just the vibes. It mixed house and RnB together, and I really enjoyed that. Then, when I got to LA, just seeing all the different genres of house that I didn’t even know existed. I think it all played a little part in how I wanted my own sound to be. I took bits and pieces with me from each area.
K8: Going off of that, the origins of your own music, is there anything that you wish more people knew about the origins of house as a genre?
HoneyLuv: Yes- well, a lot of people know, but at the same time I was just telling some of my friends it originated with black people and a few of them didn’t know that. So, yeah, just to be able to showcase that and really let people learn about the culture. I think it’s really important what you come into the space thinking, and people should know where it came from.
K8: Is that something that was important to your radio show?
HoneyLuv: Yeah, I was able to. I had to end it when COVID started, because everything shut down. But definitely in the future I want to start that up again, on a bigger platform hopefully.
K8: I would personally love that! I’d be listening. Being a newer DJ, only two years putting out music, do you feel like that presents any obstacles for you?
HoneyLuv: Uhm, well, how can I put this– the key is coming into it with confidence. That’s honestly most of what’s going to gain you respect. With my confidence, knowing I’m good at what I do, I’m able to showcase my skills in a way that people see that I’m authentic. Then they see the work ethic, and the product I’m able to put out. So, honestly, it’s just coming in with confidence and doing your thing.
K8: And you’ve been doing it well considering how massive these last two years have been. Getting music off the ground during COVID is not easy at all.
HoneyLuv: Exactly. Hard work and confidence.
K8: At the beginning of those two years, had you decided you wanted to pivot and DJ full time, or was it more of a sudden thing where you first got recognition and then realized it could go somewhere?
HoneyLuv: Before putting out anything, I started DJing back in 2018. Those first three years, I was doing hip hop and RnB, which I didn’t really want to do but it was easy for me to get into. I thought this was something I could do, but I wasn’t really sold on it. Then, I switched over to house music, which I was actually into and was the reason why I initially started DJing, and got more into the scene and doing those parties. In that scene, people will come out to the show just to see you and dance to your music, so it’s a different experience.
K8: Considering more obstacles in the industry, it’s not the easiest place to be a woman. Are there any women in music who you’ve looked to as role models since starting?
HoneyLuv: Definitely some close friends I’ve met. Women who work in the background that are making their own mark on the industry. I’m able to come to them, and we all help each other out. I definitely look up to some of them. Even females on higher levels than I am, like Peggy Gu and Honey Dijon. It motivates me to be at that same level.
K8: And with collectives like Femme House, it seems like there’s more visibility and support between female DJs.
HoneyLuv: Yeah, it’s making a difference for sure. We’re not fully there, but we definitely are getting there. We’re getting more opportunities, and that’s all we needed; spaces to showcase our talent and show we’re just as good if not better.
K8: Mhm. With these opportunities, though, there’s a sort of fame that’s tied to it. I noticed on your social media you speak a lot about the importance of your private life, saying you’re only going to be yourself around your inner circle. But, your bios make it seem like you’re expecting to be a big name in the scene. Are there parts of you that think being really active online is taking away your private life and putting you more in the public eye? Or is that just the game to play if you want exposure?
HoneyLuv: Honestly, I show what I want to show on social media. You can show here and there who you are, but keep things to yourself. It can be doable to have both of those things. I have to keep them separate. I’m a very private person. I’m a Scorpio, that’s just how we are. I show what I want. Not everything has to be broadcasted to the world, but it’s hard to find that balance. Nowadays, people post every move on social media, but it’s not necessary. But to be a DJ is nowhere near the celebrity culture around pop stars and hip hop artists. DJing is very chill. It’s an ideal thing for me to do.
K8: Is there any part of you that’s nervous to blow up or is it entirely excitement?
HoneyLuv: It’s parts. I was just talking to a friend about how fast everything is moving, and it’s scary at times. But, at the same time, this is what I was supposed to do. Everything in life isn’t going to be easy or exciting, there’s always a tough road, but I’m prepared for it all. Life moves quick and things change rapidly, but you take it with a grain of salt and keep going.
K8: So do you feel like this was all fate more so than coming out of left field?
HoneyLuv: I didn’t expect my life to be this way at all. When I was in school, I was literally studying to work for the CIA. That was my dream job. I was gonna go back to DC, have my little life, be married with a husband and kids by now. That’s really what I was going towards! But then, once I got to LA, when I was in the military, things just really shifted. And I had no clue it would be me DJing. No clue at all!
I felt like something big was going to happen there. I was in bootcamp in Chicago, and they told me I was going to LA. I was the only one out of the whole group of bootcampers told to go to that station. Something told me it was important that I end up there, but I just didn’t know what it would be. It was definitely fate.
K8: Well thank god it happened! Your music is so unique for mixing so many genres– house, techno, RnB, afrobeats. Is there a genre that you’ve been pulling from that has surprised you as a real source of inspiration?
HoneyLuv: Reggaeton. I love reggaeton, but I never thought I would be pulling drums or congas or other Latin instruments. I put RnB and hip hop and all the other stuff in my music, but Reggaeton has a lot of elements that end up getting put into my songs. The percussion is so groovy, it makes you want to move! In my next work you’ll hear more of those influences for sure.
K8: Is there a project coming up?
HoneyLuv: Yeah, a lot of songs that we’ll be ready to send out soon.
K8: We’ll keep an ear out! For the last question, I love asking everyone who they’re listening to right now. Anyone who you would choose for a dream DJ duo partner?
HoneyLuv: (laughing) Recently, I’ve only been listening to RnB. I love Usher radio on Spotify. I am an RnB head for sure! But a HoneyLuv x Honey Dijon back to back would be amazing. Hopefully that can happen in the future!
K8: For the names alone! Anything you’d like to say to WRGW kids before we wrap up?
HoneyLuv: Yes! If you dream, dream big. Do not limit yourself. Anything in the world is possible. Just believe in yourself!