Interdependency and art: a convo with Candice Hoyes

I met up with singer and songwriter Candice Hoyes in a dimly lit, low hanging loft in the Chelsea area of New York City. I'd been in the area over a hundred times, but never happened upon this particular spot. After hearing its name, the Secret Loft, I realized very quickly why (hint: it's a secret). I climbed a tall flight of narrow steps and was met with the laughter that bellowed as a result of the comedic opening act. Hearing jokes about chopped cheese sandwiches and paninis, I knew I was in the right spot. 

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Bushwick Grand manages a concert series by Airbnb aptly titled, Houseguests. Yeah, I didn't know they did these either. But, it was amazing. It was low-key and energetic--the perfect mix for a Thursday evening. Candice Hoyes was the feature.

I got to sit down and chit chat and, after asking how she heard about BGF, found that Candice loved the magazine and decided to email our Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Nick Alder. Sounding more serendipitous than strategic, I also found that Candice's relationships with her "sister friends" often started as half-fate and mostly drive. She relates to visual art and Black creatives and doesn't hesitate to reach out when she believes she can create something amazing with them. Candice also states that she never takes it personally when she doesn't hear back. A lot of us can use a page from this book. Now this isn't a tip on how to get ahead in the creative game, but a good lesson on how to create the bonds you want.

Candice is clear that connecting with other artists to create always happens when she needs it to and that she mostly collaborates with Black women; she finds that the conversation is more straightforward with women of similar backgrounds. Candice goes on: [These] are the stories I’m passionate about telling. Occasionally it’s other women who speak to other aspects of my politics or vision. We can never affirm each other enough. Why? Let me reflect. We can never affirm each other enough because the status quo erases us in so many ways daily. I feel like many of us black women artists are making art to broaden the narratives about us and it can fuel you and inspire you to work harder when you feel seen.

Rutherford: How do you feel this interdependency has propelled your career or has it stagnated it?

Candice: [It has] absolutely propelled it and it begins in the imagination of the women who came before me. The images that I saw when I saw Soul Train on TV, when I saw my first music videos and when I read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. That’s the first book I got that was written by a Black woman. That was formative. We have a command of so many different narratives running at the same time. It really enriches your growth as an artist when you can create without that gaze—the male gaze, the gaze of the majority and make central the things the way that you see [them] and what’s important to you. It’s always been a light for me. It’s never been anything but a light for me. The more I dug into the history, it gave me perspective on my potential. It made me want to help younger women and girls.

Rutherford: What is your ultimate goal?

Candice: I love writing music. It just adds another element to the storytelling for me. It just deepens the impact. My ultimate goal is to make music for the rest of my life. Like Ruby Dee or Carmen De Lavallade or Maya Angelou, I want to constantly be looking forward and make work [so that the] younger people after me say, "this work marks the turns of her life". I just want it to be a long career. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be long. 

Rutherford: You don’t want long misery though. 

Candice: No, I love what I do. I have a privilege. I look at women like Eartha Kitt and Lena Horne who were blacklisted. 

Rutherford: This is your day job?

Candice: Yes. I’ve always had a combination of jobs, but yeah, that’s what I’m doing. It’s taken me a while to [move] from non-music jobs. There might be a time where I do it again. But I’ve been doing music non-stop since I was six years old. So I guess it’s me. 

Rutherford: What would you say to that Black Creative that is still working on making their art their full time gig?

Candice: The most important thing to a creative is to make sure they're working as hard as they can to provide themselves with what they need. And if that means you have to work for the better part of your day, and the time you have to do your art is a good quantity and you feel confident and independent and clear then that’s good art and that’ll get you where you need to go. Keep yourself in good company, so the time you spend working on your art, you can share it, so people can value it and [those people] can help you grow it. As long as you set yourself up and take the best care of yourself. That’s a very long term approach that might not satisfy everyone. There might be people who need to let it out right away. I support all the avenues. I do think especially for Black women artists, that taking care of ourselves is paramount. 

--Candice is called to perform--

Rutherford: Why do you think Black Girls fly?

Candice: I think because from girls to women , we only get more courageous, more insightful, more beautiful.

Creating work that strays away from the infamous gaze and centering Black women, you will not be surprised at the beautiful creations Candice makes. Though I only got to speak with her for a quick minute, I got to hear Candice perform. Sounding like a cross between Nina Simone and the sweet hum of mama during a Saturday morning cleaning session, I didn't want to leave. But alas, it was a school night and I knew there would be a lot more tunes from Ms. Hoyes. Candice is currently working on an album that is set to be released early 2019. You can follow her on Instagram at @candiceincolor