Check out our interview with singer-songwriter and producer Greg Hoy who formed his music tastes through listening sessions with his mother who had a subscription to the Columbia House monthly CD series. Together, the two soaked up the sounds of Huey Lewis and the News, INXS, Chicago, and Led Zeppelin. Those were epiphanic moments for Greg as a budding music fan, and they’re treasured times he spent with his mother.

“Music is in everything I do. Helping companies hiring people is just like putting a band together. I’ve been fortunate that both sides of my brain work in tandem,” the California-based artist says with a good-natured laugh.

With his 2020 tour cancelled due to… well, you know what, Greg managed to coax East Bay, California’s Tiny Telephone studio owner John Vanderslice into letting he and his band social distance to make ‘Cacophony’ – an 11 song cycle now out on gold vinyl – written and recorded in just two weeks. The lyrically output was heavy: birth, death, pandemics, and fires. But that fast and furious creative drive is what propels him to create.

Follow Greg @thegreghoy

Hi Greg, please tell us a little about you?

My last name ‘Hoy’ means today in Spanish. I have it tattooed on my arm to remember to always ‘be here now’.

Describe yourself in 3 words?

Motivated. Fascinated! Dedicated.

We’re sure you have been asked this million times but how did you get in the industry?

My life has been a balance of creative worlds which all kind of align. Living in NYC for a decade, meeting so many artists doing ‘the hustle’, sealed my desire to put myself & my music out into the world. There’s a Confucius quote that sums it up: ‘We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.’ So what are you gonna do with your time here?

Describe your sound in 3 words?

Catchy. Peppy! Sincere.

Who influenced you and why did you choose to make music?

I grew up east coast-style, born in South New Jersey. Maybe this is why I equally love Frank Sinatra, Queen Latifah, and Bruce Springsteen? My family constantly played LP records around the house. My sister would strum acoustic guitar and sing. My brother played saxophone in a funk band that opened for Kool & The Gang. Music was something that surrounded me whether it was hearing it in my house or outside.

Do you play any instrument?

I’ll try! My first instrument was a Muppets drum set when I was 5 with a picture of Animal on the kick drum. Then in 3rd grade I took clarinet lessons, acoustic guitar… I taught myself piano, then electric guitar. That is my main instrument though drums are my favorite to play. I was on trombone all through high school and in the marching band. A few years ago, I rented a trumpet and taught myself enough to play a few parts on one of my songs.

Do you ever get nervous?

That’s a great question. I do meditation and mindfulness practices. Before every performance, I walk the stage at soundcheck, checking out all the floor’s parts, and I’ll say a bit of gratitude for it holding us all up while we play. It also keeps any nerves at bay. Travel can make me the most nervous, actually like getting to the gigs on time!

What’s the story behind the new single “Move Along?

‘Move Along’ was the first song written for the album. We were stuck in quarantine last spring. The Dolly Parton biography was on the television. She is one of my idols. She talks about writing ‘one or a few songs every day.’ EVERY DAY! So that night, my goal was to write a song a day. Well, I did that for a week and most of them were terrible, but ‘Move Along’ was the song I wrote that night after being inspired by Dolly. It’s about how life unfolds, and how we do our best to ride the chaos while we are here.

Did you have plans/concerts planned and cancelled because of COVID? If so have you done any online concerts or interaction with your fans?

There was a 2 week tour of the West Coast co-headlining with the awesome rocker Vanessa Silberman that got cancelled. Some of those venues we were to play have permanently closed now. My drummer Jason Slota and me did an album ‘release show’ live from my garage on Fox TV in Fresno, CA (https://kmph.com/great-day/festive-friday/festive-friday-92520-greg-hoy). That was a lot of fun and got a lot of attention to the new album!

Which project is still on your bucket list?

There’s a big one where I’d like to compile a whole album of rock n pop piano-based songs. It’s so uncool for me to play piano — no offense to the Elton Johns and Billy Joels of the world — but I do love the sound of the instrument. I did a few shows in NYC where I played a Fender Rhodes live sitting down. My body needs to move more when I perform which is why playing guitar live is my jam.

What is fun and rewarding about what you do? And what’s not?

It’s really *all* fun and rewarding if you think about it! Every day is a chance to create, to make stuff, to meet fellow musicians and artists going through the ether. Sometimes the logistics can be a drag, and making art can cost you a lot financially, emotionally, and spiritually — more than you might get back sometimes. The balance is the key to joy so that’s my goal!

What’s next for Greg Hoy in 2021?

A new EP and Tour. Our awesome new booking agent is helping us put together 2 to 3 weeks so we can finally play the midwest and all the places I’ve never performed!

What is your favorite song? And why?

Oh wow: of all time? Hm. At this moment, I’m gonna go with some Neil Diamond, the greatest American songwriter ever, and his song ‘Sweet Caroline’. I mean, is there a better singalong? I think not.

Any loves other than music?

My family, my daughter, my dogs. And I’m not going to lie: I have an electric guitar problem. They are just each a unique, individual thing created by someone I’ve never met filled with songs for me to discover and create! Actually, I HAVE met (well, virtually!) my latest friend Spanky at V8 Custom Guitars (http://www.v8customguitars.com/). He is building me my dream custom Telecaster guitar we are calling the Hoycaster for the new tour.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?

I’d love to meet my grandfather who, I’m told, I am a lot like. He was a musician, lover of life, and bar owner. Sounds like my kinda guy.

Best advice ever given?

Listen more than you speak.

How’s a typical day in your life?

My life is a whirlwind of awesome. On any given day, I play the part of musician, small business owner, new dad, life coach, student, chef, manual laborer, pixel jockey, marketing guru, friend, delivery driver. Mostly I just try to do my best whatever that means from day to day. It’s all you can do, really.

Name one your strengths?

I’d say my ability to step into anyone’s kitchen at any time with any ingredients and make a meal (unless, of course, it’s a kitchen devoid of ANYthing to eat).

Idea of a perfect Sunday?

Sundays are early risers! The sun comes up over a mountain about 30 miles east of our backyard. There’s coffee, usually a record by Jim James, Fleet Foxes, Etta James, and pancakes with my family. Afternoons are reserved for friends to drop by. Sunday night is a time to reflect on the week and prepare for the coming one.

What is your favorite song to belt out in the car/for karaoke?

No question it’s ‘Since You’ve Been Gone’ by Kelly Clarkson! And on a good night at the right venue with the right crowd, you’ll hear my band cover it.

What is your own definition of happiness?

To quote the incredible band Franz Ferdinand, it’s Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.

Do you support any charities?

Right now, I am a big fan of the Save Our Stages movement. We have done benefit shows for veterans, cancer research, women’s reproductive rights, mental health. I tend to steer clear of politics however anyone supporting freedom and equality for all – racially, sexually, financially – gets my respect. As a white cisgender male, there’s always more work to hear those with different upbringings and world views, and my understanding of the privileges of my own world.

What is your favorite healthy food?

Um.. are fried chicken wings with ranch dressing ‘healthy’?

And your favorite cheat food?

…Um..fried chicken wings? 🙂

What would be a deal breaker on a first date?

Oh! I will tell you a first date story from a few years back that should answer this question. Trigger warning: there’s some severe cray cray. We met on a dating app and went to a few rock n roll bars in the East Bay out here in northern California. About two hours and a few cocktails into the date, she started talking about her ex-fiancee who, as she explained, had accidentally shot himself in the apartment in which they were living together. As she told me the very, very (almost rehearsed, really) detailed story of the day it happened, she started saying ‘but everyone thought I did it but I didn’t…’ almost a little *too* much, if you know what I mean. So after the date ended, I went home and internetted about it. It turned out she was the prime suspect in the man’s death, and that the case was ongoing. So yea, I’d say if you are a murderer on a first date, that’s a deal breaker.

How do you see yourself in 5 years?

Making even more music, traveling, touring, and helping support other artists.

How would you describe your fashion style?

Oh boy: maybe black T shirts with black jeans and boots or Vans? I’m pretty boring.

What do you think of Social Media?

There’s a lot of awesomeness that comes from it, and my music gets all over the world because of it. The downside is no matter what opinion or belief someone has — however goofy or unfounded — there’s someone else out there that agrees.

Where can we follow you?

My current favorite is Instagram at www.instagram.com/thegreghoy or videos at www.youtube.com/GregHoyOhYeah — and twitter is @thegreghoy, too. We’ll see you on tour this summer and fall!

 

Quote: Find out who you are and do it on purpose. — Dolly Parton

Movie: Tron

Travel Destination: Seville, Spain

Sports Team: The New York Furies