It’s no secret that a strong vocal ability, intricate arrangements, and beautiful harmonies usually separates what can make or break an artist (at least in our eyes). The members of H3rizon, a trio from Sydney Australia including Bernie, Gabby, and Tiara, just so happen to have all these qualities and more. The girl group has become loved by many through their acapellas seen on social media platforms and their original songs like “Sweet Symphony”, which showcases their catchy melodies and hooks amongst the other aforementioned qualities. It’s no surprise then that they eventually caught the attention of super producer Tricky Stewart, who took them under his wing and advocated for the group to be signed to Epic Records US. Now holding the title of the first Australian and Asian-Pacific girl group to be signed to Epic records, it’s safe to say that the girls are on a steady path to making much more history.

Records like “Soul Ties (Don’t Give It Up)” and “Wanna Love You”, both produced by Tricky, continue to prove how unique and versatile this group is both vocally and stylistically – a characteristic reminiscent of Left Eye’s genre blending girl group Blaque. After hearing their dedication and involvement with their own work through this conversation, we are that much more excited to be here at the start of an incredible journey.

We talked to H3rizon about signing to Epic Records, working with Tricky Stewart on their newest single “Soul Ties”, what to expect from their upcoming EP, and much more.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Tell me about yourselves first as individuals before we hop into a conversation about the group. I think the best way to do that is for each of you to tell me about some artists that inspired you growing up and then a little bit about your background musically.

Gabby – I would say what I bring to H3rizon is my classical music influence. I actually studied it in high school. I did classical singing, opera and I also played piano. Aside from that, I had a lot of R&B influences, especially people who sing and play piano because I resonated with them so much. So like Alicia Keys and Brian McKnight. I also grew up with the girl groups because I did a lot of vocal ensembles and choirs. So obviously Destiny’s Child, SWV, TLC, but that’s all of our influences in terms of girl groups.

Tiara – For me, I grew up listening to the divas in music. So like Whitney, Mariah, Celine Dion. Even other old school R&B artists like Brandy. For me personally, I didn’t have much professional training growing up because where I come from in Sydney, I didn’t really have access to it. A lot of my knowledge and skill was literally self taught based off of the people that I looked up to in music. I learn a lot from these girls nowadays with the training that we have to go through. They’re my form of university and music knowledge training in school, but I’m cool with that *laughs*

Bernie – I also grew up doing a lot of choirs and vocal ensembles like Gabby, especially in high school and university. Going into university, I learned a lot of music production which I now bring to H3rizon. I love doing a lot of our mixing, vocal production and our beats here and there, especially for our covers. I really enjoy it. For me, currently Chloe Bailey inspires me to really pursue music production as an artist, because she’s killing the game being an artist but she’s also really hands on with her own music production. Growing up I was also inspired by R&B; the greats, the divas. We’ve all also grown up doing a lot of karaoke at Filipino gatherings, so I guess that’s why we’re so knowledgeable about old school music, seventies, eighties, nineties, you name it.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Nah, for sure. It’s funny because I have a lot of Filipino friends and there’s one thing they have in common, they can all sing. One thing that I did come across is that you guys formed around 2018. What made you decide to become a group instead of each going solo?

Bernie – Well, it’s because we started off as friends and we got closer through doing these gigs in the Filipino community. We were just drawn to each other’s energy. We found we all had a similar passion in wanting to create music, so we thought why not do it together and why not pursue something bigger than just ourselves… let’s become a group.

Gabby – We also found someone that believed in us, which is our manager. We came to him just as three girls wanting to make music. He was like “I believe we could make this a thing and that you could be the next big thing. I am going to support you all the way.” That’s how we managed to find a whole management team, and that is what has kept us strong and kept us doing this full time.

YouKnowIGotSoul: What was the inspiration behind the name H3rizon?

H3rizon: We had different types of names but H3rizon was the only one that stuck out for all of us. We actually have a quote behind the name, it’s “She’s keeping her hands on the wheel and her eyes on her on the horizon”. It’s just never losing sight of our goal. Always keeping the goal in mind. Then you have the other layers of the “3” because there’s three of us, and then her because we’re all women.

YouKnowIGotSoul: I saw that H3rizon is the first Australian and Asian-Pacific girl group to be signed to Epic US. How did you end up getting signed? How does it feel to have that title?

H3rizon: It was a long process. We started off as independent artists for five years, just consistently working hard and just building a platform. We were making ourselves known on social media through different covers and through releasing original music. Through that hard work, Tricky Stewart found us. He kept an eye on us for a year or so, when we had less than 20k. The moment we jumped up to like six figure followers, that’s when he was like, “yeah I’ve watched you guys grow from the beginning and this is something I really believe in”. He approached us and our team and that’s pretty much where we hit it off. It’s definitely a surreal feeling for us to be able to have that kind of title as being the first ever Australian and APAC girl group to be signed. I think because we care so much about advocating for the Filipino community and Western Sydney specifically as well. We feel really grateful to be the first in that position because we didn’t have someone like that to look up to. And, to have Tricky Stewart believe in that as much as we do and for him to advocate for us and vouch for us to Sony Epic, it was just surreal.

YouKnowIGotSoul: We usually cover the OGs, so how you guys popped up to us was through Tricky Stewart. I’m curious, were you already familiar with him? Or did you get accustomed after you started talking with him?

H3rizon: I’m not gonna lie …*laughs* We didn’t until we saw the catalog and we were like, whoa. He made our childhood. All of his songs we knew. We were like this what we were blasting throughout all of our years. They’re all iconic songs and will forever be iconic songs. He is an icon. I highkey thought it was fake at first *laughs*. No way. It’s gotta be a fake account.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Let’s get into some of the songs you girls did with him. “Soul Ties” has been stuck in my head, so tell me the whole process for that song. I see that you guys did the vocal arrangements on it too, that’s something I really would love for you to talk about.

H3rizon: We recorded the song at the beginning of this year in January. Tricky actually flew his vocal producer Richard out to record with us here in Sydney. We recorded a bunch of songs and “Soul Ties” was one of them. It was written by Tehran Thomas, he just won the Grammy for Songwriter of the Year, so we feel pretty special that he wrote this song for us. It’s such a feel good summer bop song, so we felt it just worked for us. We do vocal arrangements for all of our songs. We’re actually pretty lucky to have Tricky Stewart allow us to do those things, he doesn’t do that at all for other artists.

It was actually one of his big tests last year when he flew us out to Atlanta. He kind of was like, I see what they do on social media, but I want to see them actually do it in person. You know, when artists get into that booth it’s interesting to see how they work. I remember we would record the song from top to bottom, each girl individually, and then afterward he’d leave the room. He was like, “All right, now do your thing”. He came back in a few hours later to see what we’ve done, and he’s like, “Oh that’s a lot” *laughs* We always put more than we should so that he can always take stuff back. That’s what we like to do.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Well, to hear that from him must be insane. Especially for him to allow you to have the control over it, knowing that he’s a legend. That makes me enjoy your guys stuff more, seeing that you really put that effort in, I love that.

H3rizon: Yeah for sure, we do every vocal arrangement. When it comes to our social media content, our covers, everything we do, we arrange ourselves. I think it’s just us as H3rizon. That’s a H3rizon thing. It feels wrong to not contribute anything, so that’s why we want to level it out with a bunch of harmonies and layers that’s our own. I feel we’ve definitely created a H3rizon touch. We have a very specific way of doing arrangements that it would just make more sense for us to do it.

YouKnowIGotSoul: Typically what I do is name a song and let the artist tell me about it. This time I’m going to give you two options. All your songs are good so it’s not easy for me to pick one *laughs*. So, the first choice is: “Maniac” or “Coordinate”?

H3rizon: Those are like OG songs. Wayyyy back. Maybe we should talk about “Coordinate”. We wanted to write a bad b*tch anthem *laughs*. As a girl group when everyone looks at us, they always say “how are you guys always so coordinated?” From the way you talk to the way you act, the way you dress, you guys are just like in sync.

We worked with two people, Cyrus and Jasmine, in Sydney. It was a fun day. We acutely recorded the vocals in the Philippines, it went worldwide. We recorded the demo in Sydney and then when we went to the Philippines and got introduced to the world of Dolby Atmos, the really cool spatial audio. We were able to cut the song properly using Dolby Atmos and it was the coolest experience. So if anyone has a chance to listen to the song in Dolby Atmos, it’s a completely different experience.

YouKnowIGotSoul: That’s awesome. I’m gonna have to find a way to do that now. The next two are: “You Don’t Know Nothin” or “Sweet Symphony”?

H3rizon: I guess we should talk about “You Don’t Know Nothin”. “You Don’t Know Nothin” was a very tedious one. It was also a very spontaneous song for us to record. We recorded that last year when we were in Atlanta around April during the two and a half weeks that we were there. We cut about 14, 15 songs and we had our selection of songs that we were going to cut. One day, Tricky was in the studio and he was showing us For Real, the original singers of “You Don’t Know Nothin”. He was kind of just educating us on more girl group knowledge, people that we should be getting into with our music and our arrangements and everything. When he showed us the song, we fell in love with it instantly. We were like oh my God, this song is insane because it’s a complete acapella song. As H3rizon, we’ve been known for our acapellas and our harmonies so it obviously resonated with us a lot more. When he saw how much we were infatuated with the song, he was kind of like, “You know what? Forget about the song that we’re meant to cut tomorrow. Maybe you guys should try doing it”. So then the next day we came into the studio, we were cutting two songs a day mind you, but this one day was the longest day in the studio. We couldn’t find any sheet music of it, so we had to kind of analyze it by ear. We had Logic Pro open in the morning during breakfast, we were trying to analyze the notes and dissect it. It was half done when we arrived at the studio. So, we did the first half and while someone was at the mic singing, the other person was conducting while the other person was dissecting. That’s how we completed the song finally. We also were really excited about releasing “You Don’t Know Nothin” because it was our debut single after being signed with Epic. We kind of saw it as the perfect song because for the people that have been following us for so long for our acapellas and our harmonies, it was kind of that perfect transition between being independent to being signed because we were still showing people that we’re never going to go away from our harmonies and our acapellas. It was kind of a thank you for all that support, here’s our present back type thing.

YouKnowIGotSoul: I love that. It definitely was a great first single for Epic, and you girls killed it. The last two songs, this might be a little hard: “Naughty” or “Wanna Love You”?

H3rizon: Ok ummm… “Wanna Love You”. It has a very interesting story to it. It was the second song that we recorded on a long day. Honestly, we were tired. Every day in the studio someone’s dozing off. You can’t help it, and then you wake up and Tricky is right next to you. Just like staring at you *laughs*. We recorded the song, we got it done and then it came to recording the bridge (which originally wasn’t in the song – the part where all the vocal harmonies and layers are coming in). We were like, let’s just lay it all out there. Let’s just put whatever we want. In all honesty, we weren’t a hundred percent confident in the song when we were on the way home. Maybe because we were so tired and we were kind of like vocal vomit in the studio. We didn’t know what we were doing. We were just kind of winging it at that point because it was like 5:30 AM, so we left not as confident in the song. When we came back the next day and we heard it back and what they did to it overnight, it became one of the favorites. We were like, hang on a second, how did we do that? Maybe we should be tired more often *laughs*.

YouKnowIGotSoul: That’s hilarious. I would have never thought that. I guess you guys were in the studio a lot with Tricky then, so have you learned anything from being around him and just being in his presence?

Tiara – He taught us a lot. Everything. Work ethic, not being so hard on yourself, and just really going in there, knowing who you are, knowing you’re a superstar and acting like it. Something that we’ve learned from him the most is completely non music related. It’s the power of micro napping throughout the day, and it still counts if you’re closing your eyes and not actually asleep. When you’re spending 20 + hours in the studio back to back for two and a half weeks straight, a five minute eye shut moment takes you a long way. Tricky’s not even sleeping when he’s doing it, he’s still awake and listening to the music.You think he’s not listening, but then he’ll say something about the song and you’re like, how did you hear that? It’s like half of his brain is still active and listening.

Gabby – I would also say in terms of music something that aligns with the path that we’re going with our music and Tricky is that he always wants to be innovative with every song that we do. Like you notice with all his iconic songs, they define the decades. He was like, “I want to make sure our music is defining your era, your generation”. We were all for that, that is totally what is on our path.

Bernie: Basically, he was saying that in 20-30 years or so, he wants people to listen to our music and just immediately say that it was the music of the 20s (2020’s). The same way we are inspired by 90s R&B or 2000s R&B, that’s kind of the avenue that he wants for us in 20, 30 years.

YouKnowIGotSoul: That’s awesome. I can actually see that too because you guys definitely embody what’s going on right now. I’ve seen you guys mention that a project is coming, so what details can you give us on it? Bernie, I have a question really for you too, is any of your production gonna be on this?

Bernie – For our upcoming EP, I feel like that’s definitely going to be something that we’re going to be working with Tricky solely on, but definitely in the future our production is definitely going to be in our music a lot more. It was in our music when we were independent, but this time we’re in a new chapter, we’re trying something different. We want to work with as many top notch people as possible.

Gabby – For what to expect, we’ve got a single coming out soon, and then we’re going to be having our debut EP. We always want to keep surprising our fans and keep everyone on their toes when they listen to us.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Dream Collab?
Gabby: Bruno Mars
Tiara: Megan Thee Stallion
Bernie: H.E.R

Favorite Song?
Gabby: “Grenade” – Bruno Mars
Tiara: “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” – Lauryn Hill/Frankie Vallie
Bernie: “Dive” – Victoria Monét

Album You Wish You Were A Part Of?
Gabby: ‘Ungodly Hour’ – Chloe X Halle
Tiara: ‘S.O.S’ – SZA
Bernie: ‘An Evening With Silk Sonic’ – Silk Sonic

Album You’re Listening to Right Now?
Gabby: ‘CRASH’ – Kehlani
Tiara: ‘Tyla’ – Tyla / ‘Born in The Wild’ – Tems
Bernie: ‘Jaguar’ – Victoria Monét

A Song Of Yours That Describes You The Most?
Gabby: “Maniac” – H3RIZON
Tiara: “Naughty” – H3RIZON
Bernie: “Naughty” – H3RIZON

Photo Credit: Victoria Huber