Songwriter, musician, speaker, poet. These are just a few of the roles Hollis Wong-Wear has taken on in her life and career. Recently, she added yet another — solo artist.
Even as a self-proclaimed “compulsive collaborator,” Wong-Wear always had it in the back of her mind that she wanted to release a solo project. She said she let herself walk through a lot of doors that have led to awesome experiences, but doing so put her further from herself.
“I want to be able to hold a tangible idea of what my work as an artist is,” she said.
Wong-Wear has been one-third of the Seattle-bred electronic R&B group The Flavr Blue since 2012. While she isn’t departing from the trio, the sound of her debut EP “half-life,” out Feb. 14 under the moniker Hollis, does veer from their work.
Through her own music, Wong-Wear is exploring a more existential, melancholic vibe.
“I’ve been half joking, half not, calling my music ‘sad girl jams,’” she said.
Jokes aside, Wong-Wear is using her music as a medium to confront heavy topics. The first single she released off the EP, “Sedative,” deals with just that. She said she came up with the first two lines of the song — “So it seems you’ve come around to me / must be nice to have the option / ‘Cause it seems I’m rather stuck with me / until I’m in a coffin” — at the end of 2019 after thinking about the saying, “new year, new me.”
Wong-Wear was struck by the thought that no matter how many new years we get, there’s no new us. We’re stuck and beholden to the person we are now, and the idea of escaping that is disingenuous, she said.
“We spend so much [more] time longing for that which we are not than embracing that which we are,” Wong-Wear said.
The EP’s name comes from the concept of a half-life that has stuck with Wong-Wear since her AP environmental science class in high school, when she learned the term refers to the time it takes for a radioactive substance to reduce to half its value.
“That always poetically stuck with me,” she said. “What is our volatility? What is our energy level? Can we predict when we fall off?”
Wong-Wear said the solitude of composing the majority of the songs by herself was instructive because she was away from Seattle and her network. She made a move to Los Angeles, which she said was isolating — but it pushed her to stand on her own two feet.
While “half-life” is her own project, she still wanted to keep collaborating with women artists, one of whom is fellow local artist and past collaborator Mary Lambert. Lambert is a producer on the EP’s second single, “All My Weight.” Wong-Wear made her directorial debut with the song’s music video.
“She’s really a model for me in how to approach heavy issues,” Wong-Wear said.
She said she’s been writing solo songs in bits and pieces for years. She first recorded demo tracks for the Hollis project two years ago, but sat with the music and asked herself if it was where she wanted to be. At last, she feels these five songs are the statement she’s ready to make right now.
“This is me at my strongest.”
Hollis Does Brunch, part of a brunch tour with Wong-Wear performing songs from her EP, 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 7; Sugar Hill, 414 E. Pine St., Seattle; $35-$40; eventbrite.com
Correction: This post has been updated to reflect that the brunch tour seatings are at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.