In the wake of his new single Dream, Eat, Sleep, the London singer-songwriter delves into the shallow pools of mechanical swiping and empty flattery that permeates through the constructs of modern dating.
One of the oldest and most basic plots goes thus: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy regains girl, but there’s a major crux to this story: the fact that it happened in the 21st century. Whether you like it or not, fairytale endings and beginnings are bound to Hollywood rom-coms and children’s fables.
No deftly humorous bio or dexterously filtered selfie can detract from the fact that most of our present-day chirpsing is purely cosmetic, orchestrated by the bombardment of information that submisses to our every beck and call. It all boils down to our innate obsession with immediacy, and the perpetuation that the glamour of Romeo and Juliet still exists is a baseless rhetoric.
‘I wrote this song at a point in my life where I was dating a lot & using dating apps a lot. At the time I never made the jump into relationships because I had this app on my phone with an endless sea of people I could meet with the potential of them ‘being the one’. I’d date, get to know someone, not find that spark between us, feel guilty for upsetting them, get depressed from not finding the one & do it all over again. I guess the song is about the cycle of online dating’
Indie-pop is a genre brimming with amorous numbers, from The Maccabees’ Toothpaste Kisses to Temper Trap’s Sweet Disposition, but our swashbuckling protagonist has leveraged the purity of a first-person perspective, melting the honeyd coating of sweet nothings into a faintly sour something. In typical dream-like fashion, Hongza melds the audibly eutopic into the realism of reality, serenaded by droning cascades of swirling guitars awash with cavernous reverb. His style never attempts to shoot the breeze, instead it opts to breathe life into subjects that many deem too personal to uncover.
To mark Dream, Eat, Sleep, we caught up with the candid wordsmith to discuss the origin of his latest woozy instalment.
Let’s dive straight into the deep end. You’ve outlined the reliance on technology from a ‘Gen Z’ perspective in your most recent single Accolades and now this. Do you think the pressures of maintaining an online presence has had a negative effect on modern society and if so how?
100%, social media distorts our perception of real-life because you only see the good parts of peoples day to day. People strive to look and act like these content creators which can have a negative impact like how skinny you are or if you’re wearing the hottest clothing which will put you £300 in the pan. I’ve seen it affect myself where I’m constantly looking at my notifications and have been upset because a video hasn’t done well, luckily I’m growing out of that phase because it’s so unhealthy for your mind. We need to teach the younger people that social media shouldn’t dictate your life
You wear your heart on your sleeve which is as commendable as it is empowering, what advice would you give to people struggling with social identity because of social media?
For people who are struggling with their social identity because of social media, I think the best thing to do would be to get off it and spend a bit of time figuring out things you love and honestly love. You’re going to eventually find people that will want to be around you for you. Especially when you’re being true to yourself leaving all the toxic energy and people around you.
Do you feel your music is all it takes to establish yourself as an artist or is the imagine just as important?
For me music always comes first, if the music is rubbish nobody will want to listen to it. So I focus on making the song the best it can be. However image is almost as important as its extension of the music. The music and imagine work in tandem to paint a picture, showing people the personality of what / who Hongza is.
Onto the single itself. It’s another delicious slice of shoegaze that candidly details another superficial 21st century issue; dating. The days of walking up to someone in a bar and asking them out are few and far between. How do you think apps like Tinder have changed online dating?
So much! From personal experience when I was single I never went up to a girl to talk to them at a bar or club. Everything is a lot easier behind a phone screen, rejection isn’t as in your face & you have time to really process your thoughts before messaging. It’s good and bad to be honest
Give us three words you’d use on a dating app to describe yourself, no matter how vein or ludicrous.
Indie, Outgoing, FOOD! (But I’m not single anymore so these don’t even matter hahaha)
Dream, Eat, Sleep. Three of lives most visceral and habitual processes. What’s the thought behind the title?
I got the Inspo from listening to Bombay Bicycle. I loved the lyrics to Eat Sleep Wake so much that I wanted to write an alternative version to it & that’s how Dream Sleep Eat came up
The widespread lockdown seems to be having an effect on some people’s dreams, with many complaining of frequent and more vivid nightmares. What was the last dream you had?
I’ve been having a lot of wild nightmares of me and my girlfriend being in video games! One day we’ll be fighting off zombies in a school to us robbing a bank. Dreams are so funny and stupid aren’t they?
This two-parter will conclude our personal interrogation, thanks for taking the time to talk to us. How big of a role do you think music plays in normalising issues within society and is it now up to us as individuals to break the mould of the newfound mundane dating culture?
I think it plays a huge part in trying to make a difference in social issues, political issues & more. Artists have to use their voice and platform to spread a positive message. We can try our best to break the cycle of the mundane dating culture but I guess the issue is that because it’s so normalised and has been imprinted into our minds that not everyone will break away from it.