It’s fair to say that with over 85K followers and amassing 1.5 million likes on Tik Tok that our M8 of June is an artist on the rise! Twenty Five year old ETHAN is a producer, singer/songwriter and entertainer. He was born and raised in Auckland, New Zealand to parents of Chinese descent but now calls Sydney, Australia home.
Wearing the ‘producer’ hat since early 2021, ETHAN has worked and written with numerous Australian acts like JOY, Montaigne, Vetta Borne and Jack Vidgen, to name just a few. Between his solo and collaborative efforts he has already caught the attention of Spotify editorial multiple times - landing on ‘New Music Friday’, ‘R&B Connect’, ‘The Flavour’, ‘R&B Feels’, ‘The Local List’, ‘Blak Australia’, as well as Apple Music’s ‘New in Pop’ and ‘Sydney World Pride’ playlists. His work has been championed by Billboard Pride curator and New York based DJ Jon Ali, an icon in the circuit party scenes of the US.
ETHAN is a man of many talents and for that alone we are huge fans. But perhaps what we find most inspiring is his leap of faith into quitting a steady career to pursue his passion for music, and making it happen! That is no easy feat and we think ETHAN deserves all the success in the world. Check out his story below.
- How did you get into music? What was your goal at the start?
I was gifted at keyboard at the age of 4 and from then on just started doing heaps of music lessons. At the same time I just consumed a bunch of music videos on the telly - it was the main art form that I ever really absorbed apart from trashy reality TV, so drama and show biz has always been at the forefront of my mind. In terms of my music career now, I started professionally producing music only two years ago after I forced myself to get better at producing during COVID, locked away in my childhood bedroom. Since then I've been working with artists across the globe, and mainly focusing on the local Sydney scene, with a special focus on other queer artists.
- Can you tell us about your musical influences and how they have shaped your sound?
I've always been into soulful sounds and rhythms. I took very fondly to old school RnB, everything from the early sounds of MoTown and Prince to late 90s crooners like Brandy and D'Angelo. It wasn't until I saw their influence in contemporary pop artists like Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and more recently artists like Ariana Grande, Tinashe, JoJo, Craig David, Justin Timberlake etc. that as a kid I really started to find a taste for my own sound. I'm still dabbling in all sorts of genres day to day as I work on other artists' tracks, but I will always have an affinity for a strong vocal, decorated melodies and harmonies and moving percussive rhythm.
- You left your career in marketing to pursue music a few years ago. Can you tell us about your decision to leave?
I studied and graduated from Marketing in Uni and followed that for a while whilst making music on the side. Funnily enough, it was COVID that gave me the time to really focus on making music and getting better at the art form of production, which allowed me the flexibility to start generating networks and income of my own from it. I just kept doing other jobs on the side whilst starting a bit of a home studio setup, and slowly I was able to start finding more work. Even now, doing music is uncertain but it's one of those things where you just never know and have to keep going or you'll regret it forever.
- What kind of challenges did you face in making this career change and how did you overcome them?
The instability, the mental burnout of always creating, needing reassurance that what I'm doing was good ... a lot of factors constantly are at play and make artists want to give up, but I always try to re-find inspiration in my favourite artists, fellow musicians I create with, and it always goes back to trying to remember why you love it so much. I can't imagine doing anything else and I've been trying to line everything up so that I can continue to pursue this in full swing.
- What is your current situation? Are you more into music production, content creation on OF or singing?
I am constantly trying to find new ways to re-invent the content I create. OF has been a great way for me to sustain another form of income, it's something that is becoming more and more popular and less taboo and frowned upon, so I think it's a good time to utilise this to help support the flexibility and costs that you need to maintain as a creative. I am always working on my artist project, but keeping a routine is working as a producer and writer on other tracks with a diverse range of music.
- You have recently opened about your ADHD condition in a podcast. Is it important for you to let people know about it? Why?
ADHD is something that is new to my day to day awareness, since I was only recently diagnosed with it. But it's helped me realise that there's psychological research and patterns behind the way my brain works and has helped me focus more on how I can utilise my strengths and pinpoint my weaknesses. I have to try and be kinder to myself and live a smarter lifestyle. It's definitely not the easiest thing and I always still struggle with my mind floating all over the place, but the reason I love music so much is it's one of the only places where I 100% feel like I am in the zone and cannot be distracted.
- What advice would you give to others who are pursuing their passions?
I think there's a huge air of wanting to be your own boss these days. The new generation and technologies that are coming out are giving everybody more equal opportunities regardless of background to get yourself out there, whatever your art or passion is. I'm by no means where I want to be in my career yet and have so many goals left I am still working towards, but if I were to give any advice it would be to have your backups in place, but never forget your priorities and take time to really enjoy yourself and the journey towards the destination.
- What are your future goals and how do you plan to achieve them?
I am heading overseas to the USA to work with some people I've met recently. I was recently selected by Troye Sivan and Lucas Keller to be part of an Australian songwriting camp for queer musicians where I made connections with a bunch of new talented music folk who all just happen to be in the LGBT+ community too. I think the next wave of trendsetters all still lie majorly within the queer community, and it is so exciting to see how supportive we all are to each other in artistic spaces - I think it's something that while it’s competitive, still fosters a general sense of mutual respect and encouragement, because queer people just really have the best taste in art and music. So it's a no brainer! I want to spend some time working more towards my artist project and developing my sound, image and identity as a performer, as I am still quite new in this space. As a producer I want to continue growing my portfolio and meet new mentors who can take me to the next level as a sound creator.