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Slow Joy: Unfiltered Truth and Challenging Conventions Through Music

Written By: Camila Molina | Interview By: Camila Molina | June 20th, 2024 | Photos By: Jay Martin

Texas-based solo project Slow Joy is making waves in the alternative music scene with its brutally honest and self-aware narrative-style tracks. Esteban Flores, the creative force behind the project, sat down with Hazze Media Magazine for an exclusive interview. He explored the deeply personal stories behind the tracks on his latest EP, “Mi Amigo,” while also delving into how he manages career doubts and his journey to becoming the beloved musician he is today.

Flores’ connection with music began at a young age. His bittersweet religious upbringing affected more than just his faith, but rather, created somewhat of a default music community. In fact, it was explicitly expected from his family that he contribute musically due to his father being a pastor. “I don’t have a lot of fond memories from the days when I went to church and stuff, but that is a fond memory for me of just how impactful the music side of things was to my family.” he states as he reflects on where his connection to music really began. Although he always had musical talent and countless outlets in his community, he didn't truly develop his unique style until adulthood. It wasn't until then that he was allowed to listen to alternative music icons like the Pixies, Nirvana, and Smashing Pumpkins, who now heavily influence his craft. 

While his biological family sparked his initial love for music, his enduring presence in the industry is fueled by his passion for songwriting and the unwavering support of his chosen family. As he explores the impact of his wife’s love on his career, he recounts times of doubt where he asks himself  “what am I doing?” in fear that he should get a more conventional job. Flores recalls how his wife constantly steers him towards the direction most true to his heart. He shares how during those moments he’s overjoyed with gratitude as he states, “thank you for being here when I’m just not even thinking sanely.” in light of his wife’s kindness and ability to bring him back down to Earth.

Flores does not limit himself to just talking about the highs of relationships. In the second track of the EP,  “Pulling Teeth'', he discusses how he imagines his wife feels during times of emotional turmoil in the relationship. He sings, “I paint the world like a cynic lately/ I wear you down by the minute/ If I go too far, you’ll still be here/ When my head gets dark, I bet you’re sick of pullin’ teeth,'' as he expresses he knows despite these hardships, his partner will still be there for him. However, upon releasing the song, he realized the meaning was getting lost and even misconstrued. He recalls, “a couple of people got angry about it. They’re like, ‘you’re toxic.’” He provides clarity as he says, “it’s just a snapshot of a true moment. In a relationship, you’re constantly thankful that the other person is there to hold you up when you’re going through it.” Flores expresses that he wrote the song as an apology to his wife, owning up to his part in those harder times while still acknowledging it is a natural part of being in love and in a long term relationship.

Despite the backlash online, what makes him most uneasy about releasing vulnerable tracks is not the reaction of strangers, but rather, the reaction of those closest to him. He states, “my dad loves my music, so he’s constantly listening, and he’s constantly dissecting the lyrics. So, there will be times where I write a lyric that’s like, ‘oh, he doesn’t know about this yet.’ And I’ll be a bit nervous that he’s gonna read it.” Flores does not let this stop him, and strives to not let these anxieties get in the way of being honest with both himself and the rest of the world about how he is feeling or what he’s experiencing. He carries this energy with him in the third song on “Mi Amigo.” “King Cowboy” criticizes the stereotypically southern expectation of the American dream. Flores states, “I wanted to put myself in the perspective of someone who loved [the American dream] and wanted to go through it. But maybe it was more of an ironic, ‘born in the USA’ or  ‘time to pretend’ type [of] song.” The song reads as almost a story. Flores explains his narrative as he says, “it’s this guy who’s excited. He thinks he’s the king of all cowboys, and he thinks everything's gonna be alright if he just gets married and has kids. And then the second verse [says], ‘let’s raise some kids who hate their lives.’” Flores describes in the interview how he ultimately finds this sentiment hilarious. 

Flores strives to avoid “self-censorship”, staying true to himself in all his projects. He also expresses this authenticity through his cultural heritage. He states, “I am so proud of just Hispanic culture in general, specifically Chicano culture. So I try to inject that into everything that I do because there [weren't] a lot of people who look like me making music that I listened to back then.” He expressed that by sharing so much of himself, especially in regards to highlighting his Mexican American roots, he is able to bond profoundly with fans. You can continue connecting with Slow Joy by seeing him live and streaming his EP, “Mi Amigo.” You can buy tickets here and stream the EP on all major streaming platforms!


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