Growing up in South Central, LA, starting at a trailer home in Watts with her single mother and five siblings- Cleo AKA: “HippieTrapGoddess” was no stranger to struggle or the weight that came with it. She used her trials as a source for strength, and turned to music for understanding and escape, which ultimately became the tool that guided her into finding her voice- setting the young artist on a path of self-realization and creation.
Hippie’s childhood years came with a lot of moving around- from Watts, to Compton, back to LA, then to Texas to live with her grandmother- a time, which she recalls being majorly sheltered. She began to express how she was only allowed to listen to secular music on Fridays. “It was always Wow Gospel 2002,” she jokingly remarks, “I just wanna have sunshine on a cloudy day,” referring to The Temptations, and her wait to hear them. Hippie eventually left her grandmothers and moved back to the home she had briefly ventured from, causing her to experience one extreme to the next. Subjection to chaos and rapid environment changes pushed her in the direction towards music- her only safe place to move outwardly. “Everything else seemed questionable, music just always made sense.” She explains. “Music helped in so many ways. When there was music with a message in it, it helped me get by.” She even went as far to say that she’d probably be a complete introvert without it.
At the age of six, music transformed from something Hippie received, to an energy she started to pursue. Hesitant to say where she had started, because it was “so controlled”, the Holy Trinity Church choir is where she began to follow a voice of her own. Poetry then became another outlet of expression during her middle school years where she wrote her first poem- a love letter to her crush, who ended up showing the whole school. I guess the humility wasn’t enough to stop her. She goes on to describe Autobahn Middle School, as the place where she started to find her style. “Mr. Meridith put me onto artists like Billie Holliday & Ella Fitzgerald.” That Jazzy, Neo soul vibe is what she found herself most pursuing, especially Jazz. “When I started to discover Jazz and how you could just play with your voice in that genre, that’s when I was like, this is where I belong.” Before this discovery Hippie felt she was lost trying to find her voice in pop music artists such as Destiny’s Child and Mariah Carey. “In every aspect of art you have to know your style.” She says, going on to explain the importance of emulating and imitating other artists during her journey to self-discovery, “That’s what you’re using it for, not only for skill but to help you find your style.” Jill Scott and Erykah Badu became Hippie’s favorite artists to mirror- both being very impactful to her life. “Jill Scott got me through my first heartbreak, Erykah Badu got me through High School. They got me to understand stuff that was going on around me… confirming that I wasn’t crazy.” Artists such as these brought her to a peak of spirituality and provided her with a broader perspective.
Although she found herself imitating other artists’ styles to eventually find her own, Hippie is far from unoriginal. Her life experience is reflected through her music and described by self as “really honest”. “I try to involve myself as much as possible. My music is a form of my love that I give to people. I often use music as therapy for myself- to give myself peace when I couldn’t get it anywhere else. Just to be able to try and give that to somebody else, and they actually receive it is the greatest gift. Even if the money didn’t come as much as I wanted it to come, if I could supply peace to people, which is very rare right now, I think that would be awesome.”
Finding a piece of mind has transformed Hippie’s style as a performing artist. From emulating others, to expressing her real life experience, she learned to use her art as a form of protection from the world we live in. So outside of other artists where does such and inspiring figure gain her inspiration from? In her own words, “Kids, because not only are they honest, but they remind me of myself often. They can bring me back to self sometimes… as an adult you get so full of yourself, you think things are way bigger than what they are and you often forget about imagination. You can create all of these things to manifest for yourself, you don’t have to be stuck at the opposition.” Hippie finds inspiration from the special needs clients she works with as well. “They have to go into the community where people often judge them, but they keep living life regardless, I think that’s fearless and that’s something to be admired… to live your life without fear.
However, inspiration isn’t the only thing that Hippie finds in the life she lives as an artist. “There are times when I get uninspired,” She states, “often when I’m on social media, because it seems like so much work to do. When you see the negative things that are getting promoted and you see the darker side of things it can be discouraging, distracting even. You think that it’s bigger than what you’re actually doing.” Lack of motivation is also a heavy hitter in the uninspiring realm she finds herself in sometimes, “adulting” is what she claims to be the cause, but began to counteract that suggestion with this statement- “Just the action of you standing by something and trying to live your purpose is completely enough.” Uninspiring moments are necessary in her eyes. Hippie expresses that moments like those are where growth happens, “Sometimes the most uncomfortable positions will get you to go higher or wherever you need to be.”
Often times uncomfortable positions leave people feeling misunderstood, ironically these individuals are who Hippie would like to gravitate towards her music. “We have to trail blaze for these kids,” she exclaims. Further explaining how she wishes to supply courage to the people who feel misunderstood for being themselves. “Don’t lose the fire within yourself, that makes you who you are” She says, “Trying to change someone can potentially damage their character if they listen, we should try to understand and nurture their roots first.” That is essentially the story of the name behind her new album, “Everybody Don’t Feel The Blues.” She tells us the name describes her journey into spirituality; her learning about Indigo children and how the concept brings light to the differences between people who think more and feel more. She expresses that her nature involves that of one who feels more and because of this she has often felt alone in a world where most tend to not address the ways they feel, hence- “Everybody Don’t Feel The Blues”.
Hippie describes her new album as a learning process. Learning the difference between performing vocals and recording them. Looking inwardly and making songs from scratch, really creating her music from self- using her own ideas. By using all original content, this new project was a step closer to exploring her independence as an artist. “Same me, but more of myself.” She stated. “It was really just us, trying to create a vibe- looking inwardly and projecting that outwardly.” Meeting new people and working through that more individualistic process was what Hippie claims to be her favorite part about creating her new album; that and working with a team who ran with ambition and optimism. A different mindset about the focus of her music is what sets her apart from most of the artists in the heavily saturated music industry of today. She makes it a point to try and influence individuality and a sense of self through the words and energy she produces as a musical artist. “I feel like we got into the routine of trying to mass produce music… maybe you don’t have to make 15 tracks, maybe you could come out with just seven. Actually focus on what you’re trying to say to people instead of just pushing out music, because then it starts to miss the love in it. And once you start missing the love in it, it’s not the same power; not the same feel, and it’s very dangerous. We should go back to drawing out the message, focusing on it and realizing the power behind what we do.”
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Cleo aka HippieTrapGoddess’ album- Everybody Don’t Feel The Blues… is now available on iTunes, Tidal, Spotify, and Amazon.