Cover Story

In today’s world, more and more young people are looking to explore their passions and creativity. With a wealth of avenues and mediums brought about by the digital age, artists and creatives have found various ways to express themselves and find their creative outlets.

For Indonesian songwriter, rapper, and music producer, Warren Hue, pure passion and talent define his fast-rising trajectory as a successful and recognized international artist. 

The young musician and producer’s passion for music started at a very young age, with influences from his musically inclined family giving him that nudge and inspiration to convey his thoughts and feelings through catchy sonic expression.

Photographed by James Defina. Image courtesy of 88Rising.

“Music has always been my passion, man. Just to create amazing sound, and then I don’t know, just to spill out my thoughts,” the 20-year-old multi-hyphenate notes. 

From starting his musical journey back in 2018 to now soaring in the international scene, Hue continues to beef up his already-formidable body of work at a very young age, marked with gratitude for the opportunities he has been given in the music industry. “Obviously it’s gonna be a tough job for me to go international and like, it’s the grind, it’s all about the grind, but since we’re out here in LA and getting new opportunities, it’s been amazing; It’s been a great ride so far and we’re just building for now. But, nothing’s gonna stop me, for sure,” he mentions. 

With the pandemic however, he talks about how being stuck at home, and how, just like the rest of the world, and a young creative at that, it did affect his inspiration and work especially with an unfinished album.

Despite this fact, this period of isolation was not met with pure bleakness. At the end of 2020, Hue was signed with 88Rising, an American multinational music label well-known as a haven and avenue for a myriad of Asian artists. 

Photographs by Jason Ano. Images courtesy of 88Rising.

“88rising hit me up at the end of the year, at the end of 2020, and they’re like ‘Oh yo, you wanna sign with us?’ and I was just like ‘Woah, my motivation struck back again’ and I actually started making more music in 2021, and yeah I got the ball rolling from then, so it wasn’t too much of a struggle honestly. It was a good ride.”

Since his signing, Hue has expressed his newfound motivation that then reignited his inspiration with his musical passions, aligned with influences from Eminem, Tyler the Creator, and Kanye West. With prominent hip-hop artists as his source of inspiration, Hue’s artistry has seen constant evolution despite his relatively young career. With this, he describes being comfortable with the growth of his sound and songwriting thanks to the inspiration he took from icons and arbiters of greatness that came before him.

“Sooner, I just started growing my own sound and I felt comfortable with my songwriting. I’d still think things like ‘Oh what would Kanye say? Or what would Tyler say?’; once in a while. So, you know, the way they progress with their music is also really inspiring to me because they always have different unique sounds [on] every album they make, and that’s how I want my artistry to evolve. I want a sound that is distinctly mine.”

Today, the Warren Hue sound definitely stands out. He describes his album Sugartown as testament to the kind of music he wants to own and be known for. “I’m really happy with my sound right now, just like my album, Sugartown, definitely that was my sound, for sure that I own that sound but now, obviously like Tyler and Kanye again, they experiment with new vocals, they experiment with new sound so, I’m still trying to expand my sound to a wider range,” he says.

Now based in Los Angeles, the young artist talks about the difference of working and creating in his hometown of Jakarta compared to finding his footing in the US. Back in Jakarta, he has been accustomed to working inside his makeshift studio at home. Used to having a laid back attitude in his songwriting, he felt a sudden shift and change once he came to LA, now ealing with professional recording studios. This, to him, reinforced a more focused and organized creative sensibility with his songwriting and even discipline in his recording and overall artistic process. 

“I never really visit studios in Jakarta. I feel like it’s pointless to go to studios. But out here in LA, I feel like it’s more important to perfect your sound, you could practice. I write in the studios sometimes, and yeah I just throw more ideas out there because I’m in a studio for a reason. Because in Jakarta when I’m in my house I could literally just, I could be lazy, I could just keep calm and sit back and do other stuff and procrastinate. So, I’m more focused in LA, for sure.”

Photographed by James Defina. Image courtesy of 88Rising.

Collaborations with fellow artists is now something that is being explored for Warren since signing with 88Rising. Fellow Indonesian artists such as Rich Brian and NIKI are part of the few artists that have been involved in a Warren Hue collaboration.

But beyond the confines of his labelmates, Hue talks about wanting to expand and collaborate with rappers aimed at broadening his worldview as an artist. He shares, “I wanna definitely work with some underground artist honestly, because that’s like the new way, that’s the new sound. PinkPantheress is a good one, I love SSGKobe, I love Baby Keem a lot as well, he’s one of my favorite rappers right now.”

Most notably, Hue was also involved in the creation of the Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings soundtrack. He describes this as a pivotal and important moment for Asians and Asian-Americans to celebrate and make their culture known in media and entertainment. He talks about how the film is a big inspiration to Asian diaspora around the world and how honored he is to be a part of such an important and iconic moment in cinematic history. 

“It’s crazy! Just the idea of it and the thought of it, putting my culture in music that’s connected with such a big Asian moment. I’m definitely proud, my family is proud. It’s good to be you know, to stand with the Youth and with the Asian culture.”

Images courtesy of 88Rising.

Today, Hue is working on his debut studio project, his upcoming album titled “Boy of the Year”. He describes the album-in-the-works as an amalgamation of tracks that really showcase his uniqueness and versatility as an artist.

He expounds that he has done a lot of experimenting in his beats and songwriting. He tells us that “Boy of the Yearwill be noticeably different from “Sugartown”, again tying in to his desire to explore and experiment, which is testament to his growth and evolution as an artist.

Cover art for “W” feat. yvngxchris. Image courtesy of 88Rising.

Cover art for “RUNAWAY W ME “. Image courtesy of 88Rising.

“This new album is obviously gonna be different from ‘Sugartown’, and it should be a new experience, it should just, it should be in your face, and that’s what people should expect, man.”

Warren Hue’s music screams crazy, outgoing, youthful energy. His musicality and artistry aim to give off the message of having fun with music. This very vision as an artist is to create art that tells familiar moments and encourages its listeners to basically have fun with his music. After all, art is definitely enjoyed with an open and playful mind. 

“You should feel youthful when you listen to my music. I think you should have fun when it comes to my music, man. You should like, be able to find relatable moments. Just come in with an empty mind and come out in your own thoughts. I think you should consider my music in your own head, and build what you think about me, because I think that’s the most interesting part about listening to music, adding your own opinion.”

Made in collaboration with 88Rising via Amplified Entertainment

Interview by Leo Balante

Photographs courtesy of 88Rising

Cover layout by Bhernn Saenz