In today’s music and entertainment industry, there is a wealth of talented and up-and-coming artists, spanning various age groups, from the young to those in their 30s and beyond.
However, age is not a determining factor; what truly matters is the impact of your music and its ability to resonate with the audience.
Many music artists have their own unique sources of inspiration, drawings from their surroundings, heartbreaks and even moments of joy.
Hillari Alison Conlu, an emerging 18-year-old Norwegian-Filipino artist, stands as a vivid example of how life experiences are the true wellspring of music, crediting these experiences for the soulfulness that defines her art.
In an exclusive interview with Soundstrip, Hillari shared that her music is a reflection of her journey and emotions, allowing listeners to connect with the genuine and poetic storytelling in her songs.
“I think one factor is how I write things,” Hillari told Soundstrip.
She was born in Norway and raised in both Oslo and Bacolod, her upbringing was a fusion of Western and Filipino influences.
HILLARI recalls her early experiences with music, influenced by her grandmother’s encouragement to be an entertainer. Her grandmother’s insistence on performing for family and guests kindled her passion for music.
Later, she moved back to Norway, where Western culture further shaped her musical identity.
“I’m back in the Philippines to really get in touch with my roots and with the Filipino culture and the Filipino music scene more,” Hillari told Soundstrip.
One striking facet of Hillari’s background is her time as a church vocalist. This experience has left a profound impact on her, with a particular emphasis on the genuine and heartfelt singing she witnessed in the church.
“That’s why I really want to do the same when it comes to my live performances,” her music, she says, reflects her love for choir sounds and harmonies, elements she incorporates into her songs.
HILLARI’s rapid rise in the music industry is nothing short of remarkable. She fully started her music career in 2021 and has since garnered a substantial following and reached a wide audience.
“Honestly, it feels so amazing because everything has been going so quickly in a short period of time,” Hillari said.
For Hillari, this journey has been an unexpected and humbling experience, especially in the Philippines, where her music has found a welcoming audience.
“I feel so blessed and I feel so appreciated. I feel so seen and understood…” she highlighted.
In Norway, R&B and soul music are not as appreciated as they are in the Philippines, making her success in the country even more special.
As she progressed in her music career and consistently built her name, she received numerous accolades.
One of these pivotal moments in Hillari’s career was winning the Årets Urørt (Rookie of the Year) with her song “Hopeful,” earning her a spot at this year’s P3 Gull.
“I feel a thousand times lighter after winning Årets Urørt. It’s always nice to get some recognition for the hard work you’ve put in.” says Hillari.
This recognition signifies the acknowledgment of her hard work and talent, particularly as a Filipino artist in Norway.
In Soulful and Poetic Music
For some who don’t know about Hillari’s music, it is often described as melodic and soulful, but she defines it as “timeless, poetic, and soulful.”
Hillari also shared to Soundstrip her creative process is a testament to her free and genuine approach to music.
She starts by jamming on her piano or guitar, freestyling melodies, and recording them. Later, she composes poems and transforms them into lyrics, connecting them with the instrumental music she’s created. This process allows her to create music that is deeply authentic and meaningful.
When Soundstrip asked about her personal favorite song of hers, she said that “Desperate Soul” holds a special place in her heart, with a personal connection to its story.
This debut single of “Desperate Soul” was released in March 2023 and was recognized as the “Song of the Month” by Future Soul with Victoria Jane on BBC Radio 1 in England in May of the same year.
Over the past year, Hillari has collaborated with producers from around the world and has been praised by artists such as Timbaland, Keyshia Cole, and Savanna Ré.
She also draws inspiration from artists like Cleo Sol, whose music has been a source of healing and upliftment for her.
HILLARI’s viral track “Loyal,” that earned more than 1.2 million plays from music streaming platform Spotify, has been re-released with a new version featuring the Filipino singer Jolianne.
“I wanted to collaborate with more Filipino artists. And she was the one that I really connected with. So it was just a very organic and genuine collaboration,” Hillari shared why she chose Julianne to collaborate with.
The collaboration promises a fresh perspective, with Jolianne’s angelic voice adding a new dimension to the song.
On October 20, they released this anticipated music collaboration that showcased the remarkable synergy between their voices and talents, demonstrating just how harmonious and flawless their singing collaboration truly is.
Not stopping at one collaboration, Hillari is also working on another version of “Loyal,” this time with Filipino-Australian artist Rini.
“After releasing the Loyal remix with Jolianne, two weeks after that, I’ll also be releasing the Loyal remix with the Filipino-Australian artist Rini,” Hillari excitedly said.
Her commitment to collaborating with various artists reflects her determination to bridge cultures and bring soulful music to a global audience.
“My goal is really to continue on making music that is for the soul, but doing it in an arena in the future. And hopefully that I can do it internationally,” Hillari concluded.
As she continues to create and share her work, fans can anticipate more heartfelt and stirring melodies that transcend borders and cultures, creating a musical experience that is truly timeless, and exemplifies the influence of soulful storytelling in music.