EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Singer-Songwriter HARIZ

“Authentic and unique.” These are the words that singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Justin Hariz, more commonly known as HARIZ, uses to describe himself and his music. At 20 years old, the L.A. based artist is starting to make his mark on the R&B/alternative pop scene. However, he’s been surrounded by and obsessed with music for his entire life. In fact, HARIZ began as a classically trained singer and pianist, learning fundamentals that gave him an excellent foundation for his music today. Eventually, he honed in on writing and singing pop music, which allows him to express himself and his unique style more freely.

In 2017, HARIZ made his debut as an artist with two singles: “OVRBRD” this past spring, and, most recently, “Does It Hurt.” His catchy debut track “OVRBRD” caught the attention of Zookeper, who remixed the song and exposed it to a wider EDM community. HARIZ recently released his second single, “Does It Hurt”, a soulful pop tune with honest lyrics about the pain that comes with loving someone so deeply. It’s one of those songs where the emotion and vulnerability in both the vocals and instrumentals are crystal clear.

We got a chance to ask HARIZ all about “Does It Hurt”, his origins in classical music, how he writes songs, and much more! Read our full interview below.

Hi Justin! To start off, what made you decide to choose HARIZ as your artist name?

I chose HARIZ because it’s authentic and unique, and that’s exactly who I am. Using my last name as my artist name says that.

How did you first become interested in music? What made you decide to pursue it as a career?

I was just born with a love for music. I was told that I hummed even before I could speak! I’ve always been surrounded by music since I was very young, so it’s in my blood. I can’t go an hour without singing or listening to something. As far as my career, I didn’t really have to decide, it’s just the place in the world I feel the most comfortable, and there’s nothing better than being in a career that you love.


You started your music career as a classically trained singer and pianist. Do you think this background has any influence on how you approach your current music?

It definitely has an influence on how I play and arrange my music. Learning different classical pieces really gave me an insight on how the structure of music kept changing over time. It gave me the ability and the knowledge to bend music into my own unique style.

Is there anything that sparked your shift from classical music to your current pop/R&B style, or was it more of a natural progression?

Even though I was trained in classical music, I still enjoyed playing pop music growing up, but I naturally shifted my focus into singing and writing pop music because that’s where I felt I could express myself best.

Your new single, “Does It Hurt” is out now! What can you tell us about the message behind the song and your connection to it?

It’s exciting that it’s out! The song is about how love can hurt, in both a good and difficult way. I see the song coming from two different perspectives. One is when you love someone, yet the other person doesn’t know your true feelings, and it hurts that they don’t. The other is that you just love someone so much that you feel pain because of how deep your emotion is. I’ve been in both situations. I’m excited to see how others will relate to it, how they’ll connect to it!

You’re also a songwriter! What is your general process for writing songs, from finding inspiration all the way to the final product?

My process is a constant flow. I get ideas throughout the day, both consciously and subconsciously, from things that happen to me or to other people, or from things I see and feel. I write those experiences and feelings down on a list on my phone. When I’m in the studio, I take an idea, and start writing lyrics that describe the experience, and then play around with chords until I feel they match the vibe. Sometimes I do the opposite; I start by creating the music around the idea first, and as I’m doing that, the lyrics jump out at me. I trust my gut and my heart a lot to guide me in the creation, and to let me know when I’ve got it crafted and finished just right.

You also play multiple instruments- is that something you’re looking to integrate more into your future songs?

Of course! Each song has a need sonically for certain instruments, and I try to integrate the instruments I play accordingly.

What was it like collaborating with Zookeper on the remix of your debut single, “OVRBRD”?

It was a great fit for the both of us. Zookeper did a great job remixing the song into a really fun groove, but still letting the message of the song clearly come through.

Which artists or songs are you listening to right now?

I’ve been listening to “rockstar” by Post Malone, “Such a Boy” by Astrid S, “How Long” by Charlie Puth, and “Reminder” by The Weeknd.

Anything exciting on the horizon for the rest of the year or for 2018?

Oh yeah, many exciting things are coming! I’ll be releasing multiple singles, videos, playing concerts, and more! I can’t wait to share it with everyone!

Is there anything else you’d like to say about “Does It Hurt” or to supporters of your music?

I put a lot of passion into “Does it Hurt”, and I hope you guys feel with the song as much as I do! To my supporters, I would love to say thank you to everyone who’s coming along with me on this journey. I appreciate all of you very much, and I’m excited to grow and share more with you!

Thank you to HARIZ for taking the time to answer our questions! Be sure to follow him on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to keep up with his music. “Does It Hurt” is available to download and stream now

What are your thoughts on HARIZ’s new track “Does It Hurt”? Share your thoughts by tweeting us @CelebMix

Written by Annemarie Cutruzzola

Canadian arts & culture writer and journalism student.