Ethan Healy, known as simply 'Healy,' just released his debut album titled Subluxe. With laid back jams like 'Unwind,' Healy has built upon the success of '$150/roll widdit' to put forth a project showcasing his natural vibe. Studying for a Doctorate in Physical Therapy while working on Subluxe, Healy embraces the uphill battle of making time for creativity.
“Uh, I don’t know what to do, I’m just going to keep setting up,” said Healy as a group of girls started twerking on him. The DJ began blasting ‘Back That Ass Up’ by Juvenile as five females vibrated their behinds on Healy mid prayer. He was huddled up to pray with the band before stepping on stage. As Bruce Lee was fighting Chuck Norris on a screen in the background, lights flashed in synch with the drums and guitar. It was safe to say the house show was raging in full effect.
Every month or so, Healy and a few other bands pack his buddy’s house in downtown Memphis and jam out for fans and friends. “We squeeze 60 people in the main room, and it gets super sweaty,” says Healy. “We turn the fan off so it doesn’t get in people’s way.” A spinning ceiling fan can sabotage the crowd’s effort to jump up and down to the beat. Watching the room’s energy, Healy always feels at home. “Some people drink, some don’t,” he says. “High schoolers and college kids come. The bands attract all different types of people.”
A Memphis native, Healy recently released his debut album Subluxe. He recorded the entire project from his bedroom. The process started in December of 2015 and ended June of this year. “The whole thing became an exercise,” he says. “I considered the entire project a reflection about a past life of mine.”
In his own room, Healy feels secure enough to be himself but vulnerable enough to dive deep into his past. He can spend hours on one sentence, forming a few words in the right way. This past January, Healy hit a writer’s block. Switching up the environment, he bought a light wood workman’s desk and a mood lamp that cycled through different colors. The red walls and Persian rug also helped bring out the warmth of the home studio. “It helped me be myself,” says Healy. “My room was red growing up, and it helped me draw on early memories.” To reinvigorate these memories, he runs. “After runs, the blood starts flowing,” says Healy. “I think differently.”
This different mindset helps spark new song ideas. Healy records music both on the fly and planned out. “Sometimes music pops into my head and I have to get it out real quick,” he says. Songs can take days to write, or sometimes flow out in ten minutes. This natural process shaped the backbone of the album. “Some nights I go deep into SoundCloud and I stumble upon something,” says Healy. “As soon as I hear it I hit that person up and ask if I can use the beat. I had a very strict, refined idea for the soundscape of the project.”
While working on Subluxe, Healy was also working towards a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Tennessee. “I’ve been going 100 miles per hour the last five months,” he says. “I learned the hard way not to outwardly vocalize a soft deadline.” Early in the process, a set deadline shrinks the time frame. Sending metadata to labels, finalizing distribution, and contacting blogs accounts for weeks of waiting. “There’s an element to how out of control things are,” says Healy. “It’s very upsetting, almost disturbing in a sense.” On the release date, Spotify uploaded the album to the wrong ‘Healy,’ and did not send listeners to the right related artists. “There’s a lot of cogs in the machine,” says Healy. “Several can stop working but the big picture keeps moving. Those cogs are vital to you as an artist, even when other people are moving along.”
To stay driven, Healy channeled past ordeals to stay focused. His parents divorced his senior year in high school, leaving him unsure of who he would become. “It’s weird to have these stimuli and feelings that other people don’t feel,” he says. His parents split left an emotional mark, but catalyzed the musical approach. On only a few hours of sleep per night balancing studio time with grad school, Healy drained himself to transform Subluxe into the most authentic product he could. “I never really exhausted myself like I have the past eight months,” he says. “I’m dry and rung out, but proud of it.”
To Healy, the pain of the process is unavoidable but the suffering is optional. Steering clear of a forced vibe, he lets the music flow freely with a constant effort of expression. When audiences find meaning in his words, he smiles. “People hit me up about the nitty-gritty lyrics,” says Healy. “They find purpose in a specific moment in my life.”
That purpose helps ease the doubt he feels daily. “Every day I doubt the sound of music I’m making,” says Healy. Some mornings he wakes up with confidence. Other days he hears Kings of Leon and thinks he’ll never match up to other artists. He scrolls through major music blogs and doesn’t see himself, questioning the integrity of his sound. The pressure can mount, but Healy always remembers the reason he started. “A true artist doesn’t care about awards and recognition,” he says. “Only effort matters, and if you reach the level you set for yourself.”