For any established musician, the current state of the recording industry could be a tough path to navigate. With a simple desire to create fun and inspiring music for their devoted fan base, an artist’s plans could come to a complete standstill given the money-hungry business side of the sometimes cruel market.
Originally signed to a record deal with Warner Bros. Records in 2010, British singer-songwriter Neon Hitch has taken over the reins of her career as she currently performs on a nationwide tour building buzz for her upcoming debut album and sharing her experimental plans for a “fan fueled” record label to help get her started.
From her initial recordings, including the her two chart topping singles, “Fuck U Betta” and “Gold”, to her latest independently released “Yard Sale”, the fiery redhead is the unique spark needed in the stale world of pop music.
What started out as a complete accident, singing a few notes in the car with her then-boyfriend, Neon Hitch found herself in a writing session with songwriter Kara Dioguardi and eventually signed a deal with Warner Bros. Records to begin work on her official debut album, at that time titled Beg Borrow and Steal.
For the project’s lead single, Neon Hitch released the controversial and profanity-filled “Fuck U Betta”, a seductively catchy pop tune tailored for radio domination.
“I’m very explicit, and I’m a very sexual creature and I’m not afraid of that, I like to embrace my sexuality,” Neon Hitch says. “I had a terrible break up and I feel the best way to have revenge is to be so awesome and beautiful because then you’re not destroying yourself. I’m very good at taking something terrible and turning it around and making something so magical.”
The song found itself at the top of the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart in March 2012 and was supported by a sexually suggestive music video which featured Neon Hitch dancing provocatively with mannequins on screen and creating a delicious mess with some thick, black oil.
“I’m not afraid of much. I’m definitely not afraid of black oil being poured over my body,” she says.
She followed up her official debut single with more positive exposure when she was featured on Gym Class Heroes’ hit single “Ass Back Home”, a memorable pop track which peaked at number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming the artist’s first appearance on the chart. Her second and last single under Warner Bros. Records, the light and carefree “Gold” featuring Tyga and co-written by Bruno Mars, was released soon after.
Though the artist admits the record label never really promoted “Gold” as she would have liked to have seen, she’s certainly not complaining about the song’s success. It eventually became her second consecutive solo effort to top the Billboard Hot Dance Club Songs chart.
Shortly after, internal conflict arose with Neon Hitch’s record label, the initial release date of her debut album passed by and nothing ever materialized. Neon Hitch quickly found herself working on new projects saying that it is her desire for growing that makes it hard for her to have relationships of any kind.
“It’s really a circus, but in the worst way possible, over in that world of record labels. I think it’s crazy that they put so much money into me and releasing these singles to then not even follow with an album when there’s so much music,” the artist says. “But I’m a huge believer in timing and the meaning of what’s really supposed to happen and honestly I can admit, at the time, I don’t think I was ready.”
Beg Borrow and Steal never saw the light of day as plans for the album’s release were scrapped altogether. Neon Hitch experienced the ups and downs of the music industry and attributes the cause of setbacks in her early career to fear from record label executives and the fact that money is always being spent in the wrong ways.
“I think the old fashion model is not as effective anymore,” Neon Hitch admits. “I like to evolve and grow with the times and think about the future and what’s next. I just feel like [record labels] have a lot of problems and I’m just not ready to have anyone hold me back anymore, it’s the most frustrating feeling ever.”
Fed up with the immobile status of her album, Neon Hitch collaborated with one of her favorite producers, Happy Perez, for a collection of tracks that molded themselves into Happy Neon, an extended play with a unique sound different from what was heard from the artist before.
The EP included tracks such as the ballad “Midnight Sun” and “Born to Be Remembered”, the song which the artist says contains her favorite lyrics that she has ever written.
“That was a rebellious phase, but it was a beautiful phase for me because I just felt completely free,” the artist says. “I went into the studio with Happy and he’s like ‘just write for the soul’ and not for radio. I had spent years trying to write for radio and I feel like you lose a lot of soul when you do that. There’s a time and a place, and I’ve now learned how to blend the two, but right then I was just trying to re-tap into the deeper side of me.”
With Happy Neon still fresh in the minds of her devoted fans, Neon Hitch wasted no time moving on to her next project, a collaborative effort with Kinetics & One Love entitled 301 to Paradise, a mixtape the artist said would give fans a better sense of the sound of her official debut album.
Featuring the Marilyn Monroe and jazz-inspired “Some Like It Hot”, touching ballad “Subtitles” and intriguing cover of Miley Cyrus’ “We Can’t Stop”, the project embodied the artist’s new life as a self-proclaimed gypsy. It was influenced by her life, her travels and featured a fresh sound that was missing from the radio airwaves at the time.
“In the past year, I have evolved so much and I feel now I know I can have longevity. Some people would rather take the easy route and just get the quick pop radio hit, and that’s fun and cool, but I honestly feel I have not been given this life for no reason,” Neon Hitch says. “I’m a lot wiser and I’m making the right decisions, and I’m making music with a meaning and it’s still pop and it’s fun and sexual because I am. I feel like I have a purpose.”
With her EPs and mixtapes, Neon Hitch paved a long, difficult route and was able to express the pieces of her soul that she said were missing from her early work. It all leads up to the release of her upcoming debut album, still without a tentative release date, which the artist says now has her feeling complete. The album will represent everything she is as an artist.
Eleutheromaniac will mark the artist’s first full length release, her first following the official announcement of her Warner Bros. departure, and feature infectious tracks such as “Where’s Ya Mama”, a “fun, upbeat, happy” song, alongside new titles like “Freebird”, “Air Streams” and “London”.
“I just put out an album sampler to kind of give a taste of some of the songs,” the artist says. “I actually have two albums worth of music so it’s really hard to cut it down to 12 or 14 songs because there’s at least twice the amount that I’ve made for this project.
There are so many new tracks in her catalog that Neon Hitch is still having a difficult time on deciding how to get all the new music out to her fans.
“I was thinking I’ll split it up, I’ll do one album called Freedom, one album called Eleutheromaniac,” she says. “I’m just going to focus on putting my songs that I feel make the most sense with Eleutheromaniac forward first, probably about 14 songs. I just want to put out as much music out as possible.”
No matter how many songs are featured on the finished version of her debut, Neon Hitch promises all of the songs to be “very character building”, that the mission for the album and for the rest of her career is to create songs no one else will be able to pull off besides her.
Besides recording new music, Neon Hitch said to be venturing into the technical side of the business, because she honestly feels it’s the future of the industry.
“I can’t really go into it right now, but I’m teaming up with some great people and taking a different approach to releasing music, so I’m very excited about that.”
To promote the upcoming album, Neon Hitch chose “Yard Sale”, an anthem of liberation, as the effort’s lead single in August 2014. With lyrics and an accompanying music video detailing the desire for a fresh start, fans immediately perceived the release as a statement against her previous record label.
“That was a statement record for me. I am not being broken down, I am not being pushed down. I like to take a bad situation and celebrate, rather than be miserable,” Neon Hitch says. “This is a beautiful change for me, this is me growing and evolving. What’s the best way to get rid of the old s***? Have a yard sale!”
The artist is performing the new material for fans on her recently embarked The Yard Sale Tour, which will make stops in Nashville, Cleveland, Chicago and New York City before the end of the year. With opening acts such as sister duo Carmen & Camille and hip-hop artist Jared Evan, who have experienced record label drama of their own, Neon Hitch is sticking to a theme of leaving the past behind.
Performing a mix of old and brand new material, Neon Hitch got the crowd at Stubb’s in Austin, Texas going with renditions of “Gypsy Star”, a cover of the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” and the inspiring “Sparks”, set to be featured on her upcoming album.
“I love being on tour, and I feel the most at home when I’m on tour. I have the best time, I feel like I come alive when I’m on tour. It’s a whole different reality,” the artist says. “I think performing live is essential to see how the songs really work. You get to see instant reaction and gratification from the fans, so I live for it.”
It is her fans that are proving to be a huge part of finally setting her long-awaited album free. With a little assistance from fundraiser website IndieGoGo, the “Gold” chanteuse is hoping to fund the world’s first “fan fueled” label, basically a move to cut out the middle man in order to get her trapped music into the hands of her patient fan base.
“Basically, fan label is the larger umbrella over the idea. Underneath that, is my personal fan label which is We R Neon,” Neon Hitch says. “I’m in talks about a television show for the project also because I see big things for this concept. I do believe it’s the future. Whether people listen to me or not, I’m going to continue with my beliefs and what works for me. I hope to inspire artists who are in a bad position at a label, for them to think outside of the box and possibly work with this model I’m building.”
Having already passed the halfway mark of her $50,000 goal, an accomplished by her “great” fans, the money raised during the campaign will allow the artist to release and fully promote Eleutheromaniac.
After four years of being signed to an ever-changing label, Neon Hitch decided to take back full creative control of her career and hopes the campaign will be a revolutionary and innovative way for artists to share their work with the world.
“The more money I raise, the more I can do. I have to pay the producers, there’s still some standard legal things you have to take care of,” the artist says. “I am now the owner of a company, and I’m now the boss, it’s a lot of responsibility and bills, but I’m good, I’m not stressed.”
Grateful for all the support she has received over the years, Neon Hitch is convinced her #WeRNeon movement is the innovative idea for the future.
After all the waiting, all the failed release dates, all the legalities of the music industry, Neon Hitch simply hopes to get her story out to as many people as possible. Her debut album will be a chance for listeners to get a full representation of the artist, a reintroduction to Neon Hitch.
“I’ve already started to see in the eyes of my fans what they will take away from this album, and it’s amazing, it’s emotional. That’s what I live for,” she says. “I love to help, and I feel like music is my talent, I can’t do anything else. I hope to inspire and change people’s lives for the better and open their minds.”