Hill Kid Hirie Interview: “Lift Up Your Soul and Smile”

Hirie smiling with Hill Kid shirt

As I thought about writing this interview for Hirie, my mind opened directly to a page that I had to focus on…

“Lift Up Your Soul and Smile…”

Rushing through your busy life, workplace to workplace, show to show, job to job, it’s easy to forget… it’s easy to lose track of the important things.

We’ve all been guilty of this. But perhaps worse than any other crime of the soul, there is a power most of us neglect every single day. It’s not something that can be bought or sold, but a power that can be gained only by sifting through the muddied waters of thought and emotion that dictate our lives so often, and finding your true connection to the universe.

I speak of course, of smiling.

Smiling is truly the sunshine of the soul. It is one of the simplest and most powerful things you can do. When you pull the corners of your lips up toward your ears, like the sun stretching over an open plane, the power to think positive thoughts, warm hearts, welcome strangers, and span age, race, color, religion and any other man made social boundaries you can think of, shines brightly out into the world.

Hirie believes this–she and her band live this. Their smiles radiates love, kindness, humbleness, acceptance and unwavering appreciation for every moment they spend both on stage and off.

Through smiling and music, they have found the power to lift spirits and fill hearts with hope. For any of you who dwindle for even a second in the thought that smiling could change the course of your life and all those around you, I ask that you read the following, and make an active effort to go through a whole day smiling at everyone you come in contact with. Watch how the world unfolds in front of you…

Hirie Interview

Brendan (Hill Kid): I have never seen you without a smile on your face… a graceful, gratifying smile that radiates to everyone how happy and thankful you are to be here doing what you’re doing. What makes you smile?

Hirie: Seeing other people happy makes me smile most 😉 I am a people-pleaser and always have been. Smiling, laughter and music are seriously the best medicine!


Brendan (Hill Kid): Your lyrics in the song ‘Smile’ state, “When the weight of the world is heavy on your mind, lift up your soul and smile…”How important are smiling and gratitude in your day-to-day life?

Hirie: Smiling and showing gratitude are both important qualities in any person. Smiling is a natural reaction to being satisfied or content in a situation, and showing gratitude, in my opinion, reassures you that there is always something to smile about! Does that make any sense? Lol.

People who smile more naturally draw attention in a really good way. If you see someone that isn’t smiling, give them yours! A smile never hurt anyone. I have friends who keep gratitude books and record something that they’re thankful for every day. It sounds like such a great way to stay grounded and remind yourself of the everyday occurrences we may take for granted, that essentially make us happy and smile.


Brendan (Hill Kid): Amazingly said. I personally believe gratitude is one of the most important things in the world. I’m also of the philosophy that smiling makes everything better.

Your music is fun, open ended, diverse, influential and inspirational. How were you first introduced to music?

Hirie: My parents had a really colorful music collection growing up. I heard a lot of Andrea Bocelli, Pavarotti, Laura Pausini, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Celine Dion, Lauren Hill, Cat Stevens, Kenny G., The Beatles and more I can’t name. My mother and father both sang to us as kids, and so I’m sure that had something to do with my deep and undying love for music.


Brendan (Hill Kid): It sounds like music was a big part of your childhood.

Hirie:Yes! I sang for school plays starting at around 3 or 4, danced Tinikling in the Philippines, wrote my own poems and songs at around 10 years old, and danced Hula and Tahitian from 7th grade throughout high school. Music was always a part of me, and still very much is!


Brendan (Hill Kid): When did you know that music was it, and you wanted your life to be completely involved with music?

Hirie: After having my daughter. I figured I had 3 choices:

One, was to be a stay at home mom, but I was starting to feel a bit caged in and needed to make something of myself.

The second choice was to re-enroll in school for teaching, or Marine Biology, both passions I had coming out of high school.

My third and favorite, but also the most daring, was to pursue my passion for singing and getting messages out to whoever cared to listen.

With the blessing of my family, I decided that following my heart would be the best example I could set for my daughter, regardless of the outcome. Being true to yourself is the most important thing you can do FOR yourself.


Brendan (Hill Kid): That’s amazing. Taking a step of faith like that isn’t an easy thing to do, and is often the rock with which musicians crash on. What’s the hardest thing you’ve had to overcome as an artist?

Hirie:Being told that my recent success in the industry is due to my gender.

I think it’s true that there is a lack of actively touring, female reggae artists backed by talented bands in the U.S; but I highly doubt that people keep coming back to our show because I’m a female. They come back because my band kicks ass! I have a seriously hard-working, committed and talented group of individuals who share in my passion of good vibes and reggae music.

Reggae as a genre is such a happy industry, filled with positive and uplifting messages. I feel blessed to be able to write music, and have it translated by 6 other musicians into something people can dance, sing and relate to.


Brendan (Hill Kid): I completely agree. I think that you’re a hope and inspiration to any people looking to follow their dreams. And might I add, your band is a group of some of the nicest and most talented people I have ever met! I saw Chris H., your saxaphone player outside a True Press and 77 Jefferson show the other week, and he’s just such a nice, kind person. Not to mention Zena on the keyboards… what a positive force! I know how tough it can be to What is your advice for aspiring musicians out there?

Hirie: Have a plan, and always be humble enough to take other people’s advice to heart. Speaking of heart: Trust it. That’s my biggest advice.


Brendan (Hill Kid): What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome non-music related?

Hirie: Not being there as much as I want to be for my daughter. She turned 3 last month. As supportive and strong as she is, I wish I could spend more time chasing her around. We’ve had over 100 shows since Sept/Oct of last year.

I was told in the very beginning, that the biggest sacrifice I could make is also the quickest way to successfully expose your music to the masses: to stay on the road and perform as much as possible. We’ve lived up to that ten-fold. We are barely home, and when we are, we rehearse full-time.  

But honestly, my biggest sacrifice is not being able to tuck my daughter in to bed at night when I’m gone. I hope we can grow enough to be able to bring my daughter on the road one day. My sense of urgency is partly due to wanting her there with me everywhere I go.

I’m so lucky to have a family that loves her to death and treats her like their own. We signed her up for ballet and swim lessons during our 2-month fall tour with Stick Figure coming up in just 2 weeks. I’ll be missing her every day, and it’ll show in my dedication to every show so leaving her wasn’t for nothing.


Brendan (Hill Kid): Anyone that has seen you in concert knows that it’s a high-energy show filled with awesome vibes. On your nationwide tour with Stick Figure coming up, I’m sure you’ll have thousands of memorable moments. What’s the most amazing moment you have ever had on stage?

Hirie: For me, a show is the most memorable when I see people singing along to the music. When fans are singing lyrics, it’s the most gratifying feeling in the world.  And every time it happens, it becomes the newest, most amazing moment I’ve had. No joke.

Hirie live in concert
Vibey Photo By: Josue Rivas Fotographer


Brendan (Hill Kid): What has been your coolest non-musical experience on tour?

Hirie: Waking up after a long nap in the van in a city you don’t recognize! We go from super cold, to super hot, to super dry, to super green within a matter of hours! It’s the most incredible thing. I love days off, where we get to explore nature and connect with the earth in a way we might not back home. You feel like a stranger in somebody else’s house. It’s the most humbling feeling. We are so small! Especially when we visit the Avenue of the Giants (the giant trees!).


Brendan (Hill Kid): Marley will often ask people what their spirit animal is… what is yours?

Hirie: I’ve always wondered if I had one… I feel a really strong connection to moths. Unfortunately, I’m scared of everything that flies! When I see one posted up on a wall, or by a light, I always take the time to observe it and wonder if it’s there for me.


Brendan (Hill Kid): Any specific reasons why?

Hirie: I’ve always felt a sense of calm around them. My lock screen is of a moth that kept visiting my house when we raised it from a caterpillar.   We released it right when it hatched, but every now and then it flies onto the glass door of the backyard and chills with us.


Brendan (Hill Kid): I’m a fan of all different types of music and expression, and one of my favorite parts is being able to find good vibes and beauty in all genres. What genre outside of reggae-rock do you love? Any particular favorite artist that isn’t of the reggae-rock variety?

Hirie: I love singer-songwriter style music; acoustic and vulnerable. Songwriters can be so deep, and I love nothing more than to hear a story played out with the simple strum of a guitar. I LOVE Norah Jones, Joss Stone, John Legend, Jewel, etc.  I was also a fan of Yellow Card growing up.. That album with “Ocean Avenue” on it, I can listen to for hours, from top to bottom. It got me through a lot of heartache in intermediate and high school! Ha.


Brendan (Hill Kid): Where would you like to see the band in 5 years?

Hirie: Traveling outside the U.S! I’m a huge fan of different cultures and exploring places unlike anything I’ve seen. I hope we’ll be happy in wherever it is we end up. I just think there is so much to learn, and we have to put ourselves out there if we want to be fully educated about the world and how it works for different people.


Brendan (Hill Kid): What is your favorite non-musical activity?

Hirie: Exploring new places to eat! San Diego is a melting pot of cultures and culinary cuisine. I like finding a new Thai place with a better version of Sweet Mango Sticky Rice than the last place 😉


Brendan (Hill Kid): Where is your favorite place in the world to mellow out?

Hirie: The beach. Lying down in the sand, towel or no towel, feeling the water on my toes and zoning out. I miss home (Oahu) so much. I feel a connection to the beaches there in a way I can’t replace.


Brendan (Hill Kid): Take a moment to share highlights in your personal music career, the ones that made you smile most.

  • One old (maybe when you were learning to sing and play)


Hirie: When I learned how to play guitar. My dad taught me “House of the Rising Sun” when I was younger. I took those chords and mixed them up for the first song I ever wrote, “A Place for you in my Heart”.  I slept with my guitar in the bed.. I was obsessed.


  • One from when you began seriously pursuing music

Hirie: Tribal Youth Tour! Seeing our biggest crowd at the Cocopah Casino.  All the tribes around the U.S have shown us an unlimited amount of love. Tribal Seeds exposed us to people we never would have met otherwise; the fans that changed everything.  We had moments that helped us realize we were right where we were needed and supposed to be.

  • One from recent memory that really sums up the whole reason you got into music.

Hirie: There was a message in my HIRIE Facebook inbox that I read recently from a divorced woman with children that works full time to support them. She said that my lyrics help motivate her to stay strong and keep a positive outlook on life and what could eventually come of it. I feel like I’m responsible now to keep her looking up. I want the next album to be a sequel of the first, embracing individuality, positivity and personal growth.


Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Trish. The whole time working on this interview was spent with big smiles, and we hope that this intent finds its way into the world.

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