A kingdom of heartbreak
I caught up with David Hernandez to talk about his new album, Kingdom, and the first single, Shield.
How does it feel to finally have released this body of work that you’ve been storing up?
It feels like freedom, honestly. We’re at a place in social media where anything is possible. So many incredible artists — like Todrick Hall, Tori Kelly, Rajiv Dhall — have defied the odds through YouTube and social media. Although some are signed now, it’s important to know that the unsigned can make an impact by releasing music.
I’ve been making music for the better half of my life, and some of these songs are close to 10 years old — but they’re still relevant. Now that I have the ability to release, I decided — why not?
I have some messages to get out there, and I didn’t want to put myself in a box by having to make a concept album or fit any one genre.
Kingdom includes a range of styles, do you feel that you’ve found your sound or are you still exploring different genres?
I’ll always be exploring different sounds and different writing styles. Things are always changing for me. I think that’s what true artists do. They evolve and change with the times. Especially now, things change so quickly. Plus, I get bored!
One thing always remains in my music — soul. I write from the heart. There isn’t a song you’ll hear me release that isn’t the real me.
Who are some of your music heroes and influences?
I love Stevie Wonder, Prince, and Brian McKnight to name a few. I love true artists. People that aren’t afraid to push the boundaries and just sing! Ones that have some grit and dirt. But I also love the throwbacks, like Matchbox 20. So, my taste varies.
I appreciate a lot of different types of music. I recently saw Erykah Badu in concert and it was the dopest things I’ve ever seen. She also DJ’d the after-party. Mind blown!
The tracks on Kingdom reflect a lot of your personal struggles and heartbreaks, were you worried about revealing so much of yourself to the world?
I was, I’m not going to lie. I was afraid of how the media would spin it, and how it would become my narrative. But I thought long and hard about it, and how many people could learn something from it. How many people might feel lost or afraid and don’t know where to seek help. How many people don’t know the effects of prescription drugs — it’s an epidemic. So, I chose knowledge over my fears.
As far as heartbreak is concerned, I’ve always worn my heart on my sleeve. I’ve been through some really shitty break-ups. We all have. I think we all heal when we all connect and don’t feel alone. Music does that. I still keep some things personal for me, I think that’s important. But, if you hear it on one of my records, I’m ready to share.
The first single from Kingdom is Shield — what was the creative process for this track?
I wrote this song with Eddie Wohl and Daniel Braunstein. The way we write is, we all three sit in a very small room. Daniel has his guitar out, Eddie is by the keyboard, and I have my laptop out. Daniel starts playing, and I start humming melodies and writing down lyrics. From that point, we all just start throwing ideas around back-and-forth. We make a really good team. We’ve written over 15 songs together, including Battle Cry and Dear My Future Self, and they didn’t take us very long.
I think that Shield means something different for all of us. For me, it’s like I’m talking in the third person. Talking to myself about being strong, and that the stronger part of myself will always be there when I feel weak.
This song also came at a time when I had just gotten back from the Middle East, singing for our troops overseas, and my best friend had also just had a stroke. So it takes on many different meanings.
What do you hope that people feel when listening to your music?
I hope they feel whatever it is that it makes them feel. Love, joy, pain, excitement, going out to a club on Friday night. I know why I wrote the songs, but I don’t want to tell people how to interpret them — that’s up to them. That’s the beauty of music.