Dr. Genre Killer: Healy
Ethan Healy, an up and coming music artist from Memphis, just released his debut album ‘Subluxe’. Studying to become a physical therapist, he didn’t take the typical path into the music industry.
The walls vibrated in synch with the sound waves passing through. John Mayer’s Continuum burst down the hallways of a home occupied only by a young Ethan Healy. Volume knob cranked, the verses stained by echoing guitar melodies opened a new door in an impressionable mind. “I was drowning out the entire house,” says Healy. “It was like trying on a new pair of shoes, or trying a new life for a second.” Healy, a 24-year-old recording artist from Memphis, points to this memorable escape as a formative layer in his creative process.
As a kid, Healy grew up Catholic in a tiny, beautifully historic suburb of Memphis. Tall, magnificent homes padded the streets woven with shotgun houses and apartments. “Beautiful overgrowths of ivy climbed up the sides of houses,” he says. “The magnolias, dogwoods, and Crape Myrtles got super vibrant, like a procession.” Fostering a faith background, his parents engrained in him the magnitude of responsibility. “I grew up outside the drug and alcohol scene,” says Healy. “It shaped my music, especially the aspect of vices and the battle within.” In the church choir, his mom often belted hymns at home. Other times, his parents would turn up James Taylor and Steely Dan. Healy’s musical tastes grew entangled with his home and the city. Memphis offers a busy pallet of genres, with blues at the forefront. “I was subjected to the blues against my will at first, but it became a sought out, sad side of music for me,” he admits. “It helped me explore the darker aspects.”
Not until after high school did Healy explore making his own music. The summer after graduation, he picked up his mom’s acoustic guitar. He got a feel for the strings and uploaded a small project. “All my friends dug it,” he says. After befriending fellow Memphis artist Jon Waltz, he and Waltz put out a more hip-hop driven track. The sound stuck. Healy cultivated this sound while pursuing a Bachelor’s of Health Sciences at University of Memphis. Although he still played and wrote, music took a backseat to higher education. “When I think of college, I don’t really think of music,” he says. In 2015, the summer after his last year of undergrad, he released a song called “$150/ roll widdit” produced by PLC. The cross appeal of the track quickly lead to thousands of plays and reposts. “That inspired me to put out the rest of my music.”
Even after tasting success, Healy didn’t jump into music full time. After undergrad, he enrolled at The University of Tennessee to complete his Doctorate in Physical Therapy. As a soon to be therapist, he holds a concrete avenue to help others even when taking breaks in the studio. Even though school leaves little time for music, his experiences spark material. “My relationships in college influence pivotal portions of my life and sound,” he says. “Expressing feelings and thoughts in school helps me.” The last two years, he mostly wrote and took a hiatus from releasing content. With songs on the backburner and a year left of grad school, Healy squeezed the most possible productivity out of downtime to finish his most recent project, Subluxe. He worked more efficiently while juggling a doctorate and an album, rather than just prioritizing his degree. “I used to veg out for an hour and a half after school. Now, I get home and work on music to quantify my free time,” he says. Sacrificing a few classes and good night’s sleep for the album, he has still upheld a balance.
As Healy’s style evolves behind the mic, so do his influences. “I’m a reflection of the five people I surround myself with, which translates to music,” he says. The first day of high school, a friend picked him up in the car, windows down, bumping “Good Morning” by Kanye. After a Yeezy fueled perspective shift, Healy’s lane widened. Graduation and Tha Carter III by Lil Wayne pulled him further into rap. Still absorbing the complexities of artists like John Mayer, Healy has since explored more hip-hop and other avenues. Chance The Rapper inspired his confidence as an independent artist, and Kings of Leon opened up his grasp on space and sound. “The overall space they [Kings of Leon] can fill, it’s like an orb the song is living in,” he says. While Healy hones his own sound, his parents never waver. If he needs to get away or space to record, his folks’ front door stays open. Now living in midtown, Healy chose a spot close to home. A self-proclaimed “genre-killer,” he refuses to label the sound molded by his hometown. “I want to make something people are normally afraid of…to find cracks between genres and grow them.”
Originally published at Auxoro.com