H.E.R. Talks Black Music Icons & Cooks Authentic Filipino Dishes | IRL

H.E.R. Talks Black Music Icons & Cooks Authentic Filipino Dishes | IRL

February 25, 2020 100 By William Morgan


Rob Markman: We ain’t come here to play. H.E.R.: We came here to eat. Rob Markman: Yeah. Coming to Woodside, Queens, we’re in this
restaurant, Kabayan. H.E.R.: Kabayan, yeah. Rob Markman: Yeah. Rob Markman: I think you need to get your
own dish on the menu when we’re done. H.E.R.: Right. Rob Markman: We talk about blackness in a
monolithic way, as if it’s one experience and it’s not, even myself being mixed. Rob Markman: Where did you learn to find yourself
and be comfortable with yourself, embrace your blackness clearly and embrace being Filipino. H.E.R.: I was always sure of myself, pretty
confident, but there were always those moments where I felt like, “Okay, I’m too Filipino
for the black kids. I’m too black for the Filipino kids.” I got all these different perspectives of
life and I kind of formed my own and there’s a bunch of women who need somebody to look
up to that is not a certain mold, that believes that there is no mold for what a woman should
be, or what an artist should be, or what a black woman should be, or a black artist should
be. Rob Markman: What was your experience like
growing up in the Bay? H.E.R.: I love the Berry. I love where I’m from, the authenticity of
it and there’s a sense of community there. I always felt like I had a good foundation,
a good support system. Rob Markman: What music was playing in the
house? H.E.R.: Oh my gosh. Everything. A lot of old school. My mom loves ballads, Filipinos love ballads. They love Whitney Houston. They love Mariah Carey. They love Alicia Keys. H.E.R.: I feel like I did feel something from
Whitney singing. I was inspired to sing because of Whitney
and I was inspired to perform a certain way because she paved the way. H.E.R.: My dad, he listened to a lot of Prince. He was everything. He was rock, he was blues, he was pop, he
was R&B. It’s just magic to me. Rob Markman: I feel like we letting this food
go to waste. It’s getting a little bit cold. H.E.R.: It’s time to dig in. Rob Markman: We could definitely just eat
and talk, because I think you said it’s tradition to bond over food. H.E.R.: I want finger food,
lumpia, you got to try that. Boom. Cheers. Rob Markman: And what’s this called again? H.E.R.: Lumpia It’s the best. Rob Markman: Where have you been all my life? H.E.R.: It’s the best spring roll you’ve ever
had in your life. Does your mom make this in the crib? H.E.R.: All the time. Actually that’s how my parents met. My dad would come home from work and she would
offer to cook for him when they lived across the hall from each other in an apartment complex. Rob Markman: You got me. To me, that’s love at first… H.E.R.: At first bite. Rob Markman: Yeah, love at first bite. There you go. H.E.R.: We’ve got crispy pata, which is pork, tilapia, tocino. Rob Markman: I love this food. I want to know how to cook some of it. Can we go back with Chef Joe and he’s going
to show us how to make some of these dishes. You probably already know, but I need the
education. H.E.R.: I need it to, to be honest with you. Let’s do it. Rob Markman: Chef Joe, thanks for having us. Chef Joe: All right. H.E.R.: Let’s do this. Mmm Rob Markman: When your mom and your grandmother
used to cook was it special occasions, like holidays, was it Sundays? H.E.R.: It was every other day. Rob Markman: Every other day. H.E.R.: They was cooking a lot. Yeah. Rob Markman: Just come in here and be like,
just order to H.E.R. That’s it. H.E.R.: Right. Rob Markman: They really putting us to work,
man. H.E.R.: Facts. Rob Markman: I watching you at the Grammys
perform Sometimes and it felt like, okay, there’s another chain, but there’s something
else that we’ve been missing. H.E.R.: Yeah. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Rob Markman: What was the inspiration for
that one? H.E.R.: It was crazy, with Kobe’s passing
on the day of the Grammys, how fitting the message was. You can’t always plan life. You just got to be positive and just go with
it sometimes, and that’s what the song is about, is just it’s really hard, but I know
I have to trust. Rob Markman: When you come off from the piano,
pull out the guitar, you put your leg up and just start going and strumming on the guitar,
it really made me think about the young black girls and boys that you may inspire that may
not know Prince, but may know H.E.R. and may know that Grammy moment, the influence that
you might have on a younger generation, does is that ever daunting? H.E.R.: I was just making what was honest
to me. I just knew what I loved. I released my project to Volume 1 in 2016
and people started to say like, “Wow, she’s speaking my life. I’ve felt this before.”, and at first I was
surprised. Like really? Eventually it was just like, wow, okay, I
am a voice for young women, or for anybody who has felt this way. It’s still kind of surreal and I still have
those moments of like, wow. What other artists did for me, I’m doing for
people and to be a young black woman who is able to unleash that power and to be able
to impact other young black women, especially to pick up a guitar, I just feel grateful
and blessed to be that kind of influence. Rob Markman: What type of audience do you
attract when you’re out there on tour? H.E.R.: Oh my gosh. Can I tell you a story? It’s very mixed. I just did this festival in Las Vegas. There’s two days and on the first day it was
a lot more black artists, and I was on the second day, and at first I was kind of like,
“Oh, why wasn’t I on the day with the more R&B folks.” H.E.R.: I did the show and I was like, wait
a minute, these people know the words to my songs and they loved my music. At that moment, I realized I put myself in
that box, like why did you think that you were not prepared for this second day when
my goal was to be a Prince who appeals to everybody and it was one of the best shows
I ever had. H.E.R.: How are we doing Chef Joe? You doing well. Rob Markman: What I doing? Chef Joe: Mix it up. Rob Markman: Just mix it up? Chef Joe: Yeah. Rob Markman: Okay. I want to go into the birth of H.E.R. Sitting here with you, you’re an open book
with your feelings and your emotions, and especially in your music, so the acronym of
having everything revealed. I think on the surface it was mysterious,
but you just open up. H.E.R.: Mm. Rob Markman: What was that thought that made
you want to maybe pull a veil? H.E.R.: I remember when I was making all this
music, having a hard time being honest and everybody in my life seeing me as this little
girl prodigy, the little girl, and always feeling like I had to live up to a certain
expectation. It’s hard to be honest. It’s like are people going to like the music,
first of all, and are they going to accept the message? I didn’t want anybody to know how old I was
or what I look like because I wanted to get back to music being the forefront. When I released Volume 1 I said, “Okay, I
want the cover to be just a silhouette and that’s all you get.”, and then I did it and
everybody was like, “Who is this? Who is she? I think it’s so-and-so.” That was the idea of just the birth of making
music the forefront and people paying attention to that, focusing on that. Rob Markman: Chef Joe with the pot. H.E.R.: Oh, look at that. That looks legit. Rob Markman: I made this. I did this. This all me. Rob Markman: You talked about being scared
initially and having this fear of being honest, have those fears been alleviated? Do you feel like you can be more honest in
your music? H.E.R.: Absolutely. H.E.R.: I feel like I have a responsibility
to be at this point, because so many women have came to me and said, “You make me comfortable
with being myself.” H.E.R.: Just as black artists get put in a
box, women get put in a box, to be a certain way, to look a certain way, especially artists. H.E.R.: We did that. H.E.R.: It’s delicious. Rob Markman: Wow. I can smell the peanut butter. H.E.R.: Finished product. I can’t wait to eat this. it looks delicious. Chef Joe: Yeah, it’s the best H.E.R.: Yes. It wouldn’t be a Filipino meal without steamed
rice on the side. Rob Markman: Without some rice, okay. Rob Markman: Chef Joe, thank you so much for
allowing us in your kitchen to cook with you, man. H.E.R.: Man, we killed it. You did your thing on the sisig, on the pork
ear. Chef Joe: Yeah. Rob Markman: Oh, I got it in my eye. H.E.R.: We got the pork adobo. I did my thing on that and I think we both
did our thing on the kutti kutti. Rob Markman: The kutti kutti, for real. H.E.R.: With the peanut butter. Mm, so good. H.E.R.: Salamat, Chef
Joe. Chef Joe: Salamat Rob Markman: Outside of music, the Bay area
is the birthplace of the Black Panther Movement. H.E.R.: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Rob Markman: How did that influence you? H.E.R.: It’s kind of crazy to think about,
thinking that that was the center of it all. People from the Bay just naturally have this
confidence about themselves and that’s really what the Black Panther Movement was about. It was about being black and being proud. Be a leader, understand what’s going on and
change it, do something about it, that’s some of the influence it had on me, as far as just
being proud and confident in who I am and that I knew anywhere I went, I could be myself. Rob Markman: I feel like every project you
peel back a layer, we learn a little something more about you and even sonically you explore
different things, again, opening up that box of what we’re talking about. Rob Markman: It’s not just R&B, it’s funk,
it’s soul. If you could describe the evolution of your
discography? H.E.R.: That was the perfect explanation,
but… Thank you. H.E.R.: It’s really just been evolution of
self. It’s been evolution of me and who I am, who
I’m becoming as a woman. I think you really hear that in the music. H.E.R.: This upcoming project is definitely
going to be reminiscent of the first two projects sonically, but elevated because it’s going
to be much more musical. It’s going to be opened up. Rob Markman: Finally, I want to talk about
legacy. If someone were to Google search you in ten
years, what do you hope they find? H.E.R.: Man. So much has happened in the last two years,
I don’t even know what, by that point, what’s going to be found. To be honest with you, before I released Volume
1, I created a vision board and I pretty much covered majority of the things on that vision
board. At the end of the day, all those big accomplishments,
little people around the world can say, “Oh my gosh, this song changed my life. This song helped me get through this.” I don’t think I’ve even fulfilled my full
purpose. Rob Markman: Mm-hmm (affirmative). H.E.R.: I’m here to do multiple things and
I’ve only just begun. I’m only 22 years old, so sky’s the limit. Rob Markman: Grammy award winning, 22 year
old H.E.R. Was that on the vision board? Was a Grammy award on the vision board? H.E.R.: It was nominated and winning, yes,
and I got two. Rob Markman: Yeah. H.E.R.: Ten nominations in two years, so who
knows what’s going to happen. H.E.R.: It’s just about impact. It’s about just being myself and not being
afraid of living up to any expectation but my own, and telling any other artists or any
woman, black woman, whoever, that that’s the only expectation you have to live up to, is
your own. Rob Markman: H.E.R., thank you so much for
sitting with us… H.E.R.: Thank you. Rob Markman: To talk and for sharing this
food, and hopefully, we have this time again soon. H.E.R.: I’m sure we will. Rob Markman: That’s for all the times that
your grandmother kicked you out the kitchen. H.E.R.: Exactly. Rob Markman: Yeah.