Set 30 | HONIN
Playing music has always been on Carleigh Reese’s radar. However, Carleigh, who goes by the stage name HONIN, didn’t begin writing and performing her own music until her junior year at UNT, where she was studying as a jazz musician. UNT has long been lauded for its exemplary music program and is well-renowned for being the world’s first school to offer a jazz studies degree. Since day done, Carleigh's primary goal was the pursuit of music, and after graduating from UNT, she decided to stay in Denton where she began playing with a few friends she had met in school. As Carleigh began to incorporate more elements of pop and soul into her music, she saw her style shift away from the standard jazz traditions – a shift that happened, for her, on an unconscious level. It wasn’t something she pointedly set out to do, it just happened naturally like an expression of emotion. “I definitely think jazz is a big part of what I do, but it’s also hard when you only have a couple songs out… my songs are so different I feel like.” At present, the development of jazz has spanned over a century and has seen itself reinvented a dozen times over with the emergence of different styles from the early days of ragtime, big band, swing, and bop to the avant-garde and free improv movements of the 50s and 60s, and later to acid jazz, smooth jazz, funk infusion, and neo soul which can be heard more frequently today. The art of cross-over has always been employed by jazz musicians. “I mean jazz has been changing throughout the years, it’s always changing. That’s why it’s still here… and rightly so. I mean people change, times change, so jazz has done that throughout the years.”
This jazz influence is especially noticeable in the chord progressions of songs like "Clutter," "Let Me Go," and "Halph Step Song," the last of which was actually the first song she ever wrote. All three songs will also appear on her upcoming, debut EP scheduled for release next year. The EP, which she recorded with Jake Greenburg in Denton, will house a collection of songs that she has been working on and developing for the past three years. Recording and preparing the album for release has been an exciting, but also, challenging experience for Carleigh, who has had to split time between writing, promoting, and booking shows. "It’s hard to divvy it up sometimes when you’re trying to make things happening," she says, "You can answer e-mails all day but you've got to go back to this [creating]." Being a jack-of-all-trades has become somewhat of an upspoken requirement of present-day musicians and artists, a requirement that frequently pulls them away from what they love doing most – creating. However, it is that very struggle of overcoming the challenge of finding a balance between the business and the art of music that is a testament to the passion and drive of artists like Carleigh who have dreamed of playing and performing music all their lives and are putting in the time and doing what it takes to see that dream actualized.
You can catch HONIN tonight at 7pm at the Prophet Bar where she’ll be playing with Sweetface, Smogyi, and Color Failure, and you can follow her on social media at the links below.