Roy English may have worked alongside some of the music industry's biggest names, including Jeff Bhasker, Teddy Riley, and Matt Wallace (to name a few), but that doesn't mean his success has come easily. English for a time was homeless while pursuing his passion for creating music. If you've ever listened to Alesso's hit-single "Cool," which features English's singing and songwriting, the song may take on a new meaning once you find out that the lyrics were written while English was homeless, walking down Hollywood Boulevard.
Roy English's incredible story paired with his vulnerable and authentic lyrics are the reason why his music resonates with so many people. He's as real and raw as it gets. His newest EP "I'm Not Here" features swaggering electronic beats and English's infectious, light vocals. His EP tells a full narrative of a youthful experience filled with love and loss. It's a testament to Roy English's position as a creative genius. And as a result, "I'm Not Here" is poised to the soundtrack to your summer.
On the heels of English's debut EP launch, we caught up with the California singer/songwriter/producer about where his love of music first began, how he built up his career as a musician and more.
And for even more Roy English news, head over to AOL.com at 6 p.m. ET for more exclusive features, including his creative process for his newest EP.
When did you first discover your love for music?
There was always music in my household. My mom was really big into all sorts of world music, from Celtic music to African music to James Taylor. I grew up listening to all sorts of stuff. When I was in junior high I wanted to sing and play guitar, so I picked up a guitar. I couldn't really play it to save my life. I went to lessons for two lessons, but I hated it because I didn't want to learn other people's songs. I wanted to make my own songs. So I started writing because of that and I tried to start singing, but I couldn't sing at all. I literally couldn't hit one note to save my life. But I just kept singing for about 8 hours every single day no matter what. After school I was such a nerd and I didn't do anything else.
What led you to pursuing music professionally?
Honestly I don't think I could do anything else. For me, music, singing, and creating is something I have to do it whether or not I can make any money doing it. I think a lot of artists are challenged with their typical daily lives, but art makes all the sense in their world. I think you're born with certain passions that you have to discover. When I started, I didn't have a great voice or was musically talented ... I sucked. But something hit me when I realized I have to do this even if it kills me. I went to one day of college and I never went back. It's not that college isn't great, but for me and pursuing this, I knew it wasn't the path I had to take. I started a band and we got signed to a little indie label right after that. We toured the country for four years and I got my chops learning how to play in a rock band and playing shoes. We were living off $5 a day and getting something from the McDonald's Dollar Menu for every meal. I was grinding, but it was awesome.
Is there any difference between writing for yourself versus writing for other artists?
I always just write for myself. I'm very selfish. No matter what I do, I write with the intention of writing for myself. You can tell when a song is written by someone hoping to make a top hit. It's noticeable when so and so writes a song and they're singing in this Barbadian accent but they're not from there. Then you realize they wrote the song for Rihanna and now it's their song. You can tell when something is inauthentic and I never want to be that. So I always write for myself and if someone still sees something in it then great. But the real emotion is always captured in the song no matter who it goes to.
So with "Cool," I wrote that song for myself. I was homeless at the time walking down Hollywood Blvd and I was looking at the stars on the pavement, and that was my first line of the song, "I saw stars on the pavement, California dreams. Look up to the bright lights, no stars did I see." And I wrote that four years ago and it ended up coming out much later into a whole different song. But it always starts with myself.
YouShouldKnow is a feature that showcases up-and-coming social stars. To see more of past interviews, click here. And come back at 12 pm EST for more exclusives on Roy English, including what went into his newest EP.
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YSK Social Stars
How one musician went from homeless to Hollywood star
What are you looking at 👀😂
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Move the way you want to move 💃🏼
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Bonjour, je m'appelle Meredith. Comment t'appelle tu?
Out of my 3 years of studying French this is one of the only things I remember 😂👋
AHH!!! We hit 3MILLION subbies today!! 💞🎉😭🎂 I love my #macbabies so so much!!! You all mean the WORLD to me!!! Our family is growing so much! Thank you for allowing me to just be my awkward self. I love you and I can never thank you enough for all the opportunities you've given me!! 💞🎉🎂✨😱
i like pink doors ♡
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until next time thailand ♡
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i just wanna travel the world ✈️ where should I go next ?😉
so ready for halloween 👻
SOOOO, I just uploaded a brand new HALLOWEEN VIDEO!! Click the link in my bio to watch!🎃
eye see you 👀 Ps: thank you all for your amazing and continued support. I want you all to know how much I love and appreciate you so much. xoxo
Have you seen my new video yet!? It's all about music festivals so make sure to check it out on my YouTube channel! + there's some friends in it☺️
My new video is dropping today!!! Can you guess what it'll be..?😗
u like em crazy babe don't u
the #londonhasfallen premiere last night 🇬🇧🇬🇧🇬🇧
when the waiter passes your table with food
Love him 💕
Fun fact : purple and orange teacups are the fastest! :)
WE OUT HERE AT THE #KCA's and the inner child in me is screaming.
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Have you heard?! We're joining our friends @ptxofficial on the first leg of their World Tour this Spring! Click the link in our bio for tix, or visit https://www.ustheduo.com/tour :) PUMPED to meet some new and current #UsTheFamily members!
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I came here to live life like nobody is watching ❥ ♡
Happy Valentine's Day loves❤️
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Your not ready for this #chromat #nyfw #teamthis
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When it's "chilly" out 😜 #ootd
ATL tonight 😏
had the King of LA @yg come through last night 🙏🏽
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for @projectmermaids #saveourbeach
Photography by @angelinaventurellaphoto
Hair and Makeup by @ljbeauty
Bra by @edwordgarcia
Sponsored by @sexyhair
Project Manager @crissycrissybobissy
If you know me well or have read interviews I’ve done then you know that @marthastewart has always been my biggest inspiration when it comes to food. One of my goals is to be a combination of my two idols- Martha and Andy Warhol. As a child I would dream about spending the time and care like her to prepare a table, creating something very special for people to join around and share a meal. Watching her cook inspired me to teach myself how to hand weigh ingredients, to always have my mise en place organized, how to pronounce words like vichyssoise, and her wide usage of produce variety is honestly a large part of where my curiosity for our food sparked from. With this said, I’m sure you can imagine my surprise when I was told that I was one of the 25 creatives @marthastewart is inspired by in celebration of their 25th anniversary. Thank you for helping me think and dream so big Martha, I am honored to share this and to make you all of the colors. #25yearsofmartha #foodgradients
I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce myself. I’m Brittany and I recognize that I seem to do a decent job of not sharing much about my actual self here or in interviews. I prefer to keep my art about the food and not myself. This community and my photography have become the biggest part of my life, I love it more than I have words to explain but there's more that makes me who I am. So for a quick moment here’s a bit- I’m 24, a taurus, live in Seattle but grew up in San Diego, my favorite food is a cheeseburger (super thin patty, toasted bun), my favorite bands are @stygoc and @metric, my first tattoo was the one on chest- it’s still my favorite and says ‘love your life’, something many people sadly forget. I was raised by my grandparents, I love to make small collections of items like rocks and stickers, I grew up playing a lot of sports competitively, I love Star Wars and have Boba Fett tattooed on my arm but Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is my favorite movie. Many times I have been told that being an artist “can’t be a real job” and that I was wasting my time trying to do so. I smile everyday not because I proved them wrong but because I achieved a goal. Dream big, everyone.
Thought I might start this week off with a past candy photo. Here's to hoping you all have the best days ahead! #foodgradients
Köln!!!! Didn't pronounce your name right on stage but... You were AMAZING. Only a couple shows left in EU-- next up, London... (📷: @annamaria_langer )
Practicing our Spanish with @tvtelehit Mexico 🇲🇽
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