Recently, I sat down with Eric Garza (a.k.a. Eric Heron) and asked him a couple of questions about music, faith, and giant hamsters. Yes, giant hamsters. This week, Eric released his second work of rapping publicly on his first EP titled "Enticing Lights." I'm thankful to call this brother in Christ my friend as he uses his gift of rapping to share the message of the Gospel. Enjoy the Q&A session, and check out Eric's work at the end of the conversation!
ST: Eric, thanks for taking a few minutes of your time to answer some questions for us. I'm going to simply ask a handful of questions and let you do the talking.
EG: Sounds great!
ST: Most people know you by Eric Garza, but in your songs you go by Eric Heron. What’s the significance of this name change?
EG: As an artist, I understand the importance of having a relevant, relatable sound. I think that idea applies to every aspect of an artist, including his/her name. So for me, I wanted to make sure that my artist title would stay as personal to me as possible. With that in mind, I simply translated my last name, “Garza” into English, which comes out to Heron (the bird). I believe my name offers a pleasant-sounding, approachable aura while still maintaining the personal aspect of what it means to be me.
ST: I believe that the ability to rap is a learned art, which takes great dedication and natural talent to develop this gift into a skill. When and how did you get into rapping?
EG: Oh boy. Well to tell the truth, I remember the exact day I began rapping and writing music seriously. It was during the fall of my sophomore year of high school. My brother had come home one day from his middle school with a pen and a pad writing down lyrics. He had just recently talked with a couple guys at his school about forming a band; so, they were already getting started on writing some things down. For some reason, I was intrigued enough to help him write a couple lines, and about an hour into our writing session I realized I had written an entire rap verse to Kanye West’s, “Flashing Lights.” After rapping it out loud, I realized that it wasn’t atrociously bad, which meant it was good enough for me! From that day on I wrote, wrote, and wrote until my lyrics were good enough for me to start showing them to people. I remember recording my first song a couple months after writing that first verse by playing the instrumental of "Right Above It" by Lil Wayne on Youtube, while recording my voice with the voice memo app on my iPhone. I played the song in front of my friends at lunch and they actually enjoyed it. I was shocked. From then on I’ve written, recorded, and shared my music as much as I could and it has definitely evolved from an experiment with my brother’s middle school band into one of my deepest passions.
ST: Very few people develop skills and arts without the help or example of a significant figure. Who has inspired you in the music industry, thus far?
EG: Oh my goodness, I have so many inspirations from a musical standpoint that if I listed them all it would take the next ten pages. But taking a look back at where I was when I first got into rapping, I can probably select a few of those many inspirations that really influenced me in life-changing ways. One artist that comes to mind is Lupe Fiasco. I remember that a couple months into my exploration of writing music, Lupe dropped an album called, “Lasers” which absolutely blew my mind when I heard it. I immediately fell in love with Lupe’s talent as a rapper: his style, rhythm, and lyrics. But I also loved what he stood for, and how meaningful his songs truly were. The depth and power of his music was a total shock to me at a time in my life where I had listened to nothing but junk pop radio hits and club rap the majority of the time. In fact, it was the powerfulness of his songs that would eventually lead me to explore other artists with meaningful music, leading me to a brother named Lecrae, whose music would have a profound impact on my life later on.
ST: For some, music is a hobby; for others, it’s a job. What’s your goal or mission to achieve through this?
EG: Growing up, I always knew that I wanted to play baseball for a living. Being a Major League Baseball player was the only dream I ever knew, and I maintained that state of mind throughout my childhood and adolescence. However, when my passion for rhyming was discovered back in high school and I slowly began to take music more and more seriously, I developed a dream of making music for a living, a dream that I still hold to this day. I think at the end of the day, what’s important in life is to use your gifts, talents, and discipline to fulfill whatever purpose you believe you were put on this earth to achieve. For me, as a Christian, I have always believed that my purpose is to glorify my Father in heaven with everything I do; so, with the music I make, I always make sure that I pour my heart out into every track and share my life experiences and thoughts in a way that glorifies my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
ST: Congratulations on your second release, Enticing Lights. From what I’ve listened to, you’ve done a fantastic job and improved from your first release. In my opinion, what makes this album unique is the message you share. Can you explain what Enticing Lights is all about?
EG: Enticing Lights is a 5-song EP that stands as a metaphor for the allure of a dream, and the pros and cons that an individual must weigh as he chases that dream. The ‘lights of the city’ represent the dreams that we hold, which for me is the dream of making music professionally. From outside the city looking in, these lights can be so enticing. They’re captivating, awe-inspiring, and beautiful. But in my life (and this can apply to anyone’s approach to their dream), the closer I get to pursuing and reaching my dream, the more distorted the lights seem to get. The closer I get to the city, the more I find myself asking, “What will these lights look like when I’m standing under them?” In this way, Enticing Lights is a documentation of the journey to reach the lights, and once and for all find out how my dream looks from up-close and personal.
ST: What’s your favorite track on the album, and why?
EG: My favorite track on the album is definitely, “Approval”. I wrote it with the idea in mind that anyone, anywhere has the right to chase their dreams, and the last thing you need in order to achieve them is other people’s approval. That song is an anthem to those who fearlessly and relentlessly chase their dreams without worrying about the opinion others may hold on them, and it's also an encouragement to those who may be hesitant to chase their dreams because they are afraid of what some people might say.
ST: Last year, I remember nights where you recorded until seven in the morning because you were in a groove. Generally, people only see the finished product and not the work that went into it. How long did it take you to prep Enticing Lights for its release, from start to finish?
EG: I actually began writing Enticing Lights during my time at TCU. Over the course of the year I was there, I began to discover myself in a more complete way than I had ever known before. It was there where I truly began to acknowledge my passion for music being just as great, if not greater, than my passion for baseball. I wrote the song, “Dreams” in the spring of 2014 during a road trip that our baseball team took to a little town in Nebraska called, ‘Omaha’. It was there that I saw many of my teammates and fellow competitors experience their life-long dream of playing in the College World Series, and the concept of pursing dreams really stuck with me. It took me a couple months to solidify the idea behind, Enticing Lights, and I continued writing throughout the summer and fall of this past school year. After the release of my mixtape, Dream Season, my first musical project ever, I realized that I needed a more professional atmosphere than my bedroom to record and produce music if I wanted the quality of my music to match the vision in my head. I selected the 5 most relevant songs I had written pertaining to the concept behind the project, and recorded the EP in a professional studio during a 2-week time period over Christmas break. Now that it's out, I hope everyone enjoys it and can relate to the message behind it!
ST: Something many people don't know about you is that you write your own lyrics. Do you find it difficult to share a message that may draw criticism for its honesty and truth? (i.e. truth about the gospel, topics where we sin but still preach the truth even though we fail, etc.)
EG: Sometimes. For me, I’ve always wanted to make sure that my lyrics reflect my life and my experiences to the fullest. Now, whether that entails discussing my Christianity, a war I disagree with, or a person that I admire, it's all the same. Sometimes in my songs, I rap about Christianity or my faith in Christ specifically, and that is always going to be a controversial subject. But I find that as long as I make music that relates to me and what I love, I don’t care if I offend someone with a message they don’t agree with or an idea they dislike. What I do find hard though is trying to distance myself from the assumption that because I am Christian, the music I make must also be Christian. I think the term, “Christian rap” or “Christian rapper” is silly because music doesn’t have a faith. If the fact that I’m Christian means the music I make must also be labeled Christian, then I would argue rap songs from a Muslim artist should be considered “Muslim rap” or songs from an atheist artist be regarded, “Atheist rap”. It really seems silly to other people when you put it like that.
ST: Last question, Eric. Actually, this is really a mix of three questions in one.
- Would you rather eat a pound of butter or a pound of hot sauce?
- Would you rather only be able to whisper or only be able to shout?
- Would you rather be a giant hamster or a tiny rhino?
- Pound of hot sauce, I’m Latin, so that’s an easy choice. Plus, eating a pound of butter just screams, “I want Diabetes.”
- I think I would choose whispering, simply because I’m pretty sure every restaurant waiter I ever conversed with would want to spit in my food if I yelled my order at them all the time.
- Hmmm, I think I would want to be a giant hamster. So when other people see me, they’ll have to ask what the heck I am. Like, is that a dog? A cat? A chinchilla? No. That’s Eric Heron, the giant hamster.