HIRIE’s Trish Jetton talks “embracing the struggle” ahead of the band’s first headlining tour

HIRIE interview
Photo by Shervin Lainez

Reggae music tends to conjure up the laid-back feeling of lounging in a hammock on the beach. But beneath that cool, breezy exterior lies hidden meaning, if you’re willing to dive a bit deeper. That’s exactly what HIRIE frontwoman Trish Jetton hopes her listeners might do. 

“Reggae is like your heartbeat when you’re in your mother’s womb,” she said during our recent conversation. “It’s always going to have a trance-like feeling, but what you speak about should transcend the music…I feel like it’s my due diligence to stretch the boundaries a little and attract different listeners. “

The California-based singer says that reggae is in her blood. She was raised in Hawaii, where she first fell in love with reggae. The name of the band, HIRIE, is a combination of Hawaii (HI) and “irie,” a Jamaican term that means a positive state of mind. “When you feel irie, you’re feeling really good,” says Jetton. “I combined the two to capture the feeling of Hawaiian reggae.”

HIRIE just dropped their third album, Dreamer, and it’s pushing the boundaries of the genre in the best ways possible. Jetton attributes this to a newer, more genuine approach to songwriting.

“I was able to convey my emotions in a more real and raw way,” she told us. “So for me, what makes Dreamer so amazing is just the realness and vulnerability of it – the authentic emotions that were conveyed and put into these songs.”

Jetton dug deep for the material on Dreamer, expressing things that many people shy away from, including her own struggles with bipolar disorder. “I’ve noticed that our fans are really grateful that we’re expressing these emotions,” she says. “These are things that everybody goes through, but nobody really wants to talk about.” 

Mental illness is a heavy subject, so it may seem strange with the light vibe of reggae. But HIRIE manages to let a positive message shine through, and the purity in each track is undeniably affecting. I’m Messed Up is the perfect example, and Jetton vividly remembers the day she wrote it.

“I came into rehearsal on this one particular day, crying and really stressed out,” Jetton recalls. “I wasn’t able to secure an apartment. I had been going around submitting all these apartment application forms, and I just kept getting denied. They were running my credit, and it was just a really bad day of rejection.”

“As it was, I couldn’t really afford to pay rent,” she continued. “But I have a husband and a daughter, and we just wanna feel ‘normal’ and give her a normal childhood. Not having an apartment was really difficult for us.” 

The first verse flowed out of the artist pretty easily during that fateful day at rehearsal, but she had some trouble with the chorus. “I think I was just so attached to the song that I was really struggling to summarize everything I was feeling,” she said. “It’s ironic because it ended up being just ‘la, la, la, la/I’m Messed Up,’ which is so great because you don’t really need to say anything else.”

This newfound vulnerability seems to be paying off in a big way for HIRIE. Dreamer has been incredibly well received so far, debuting at number two on the Billboard Reggae Album Charts, and the band is coming to a town near you this fall on their very first nationwide headlining tour.

Jetton has some advice for anyone who’s having a tough time dealing with life’s challenges, which let’s face it — is most of us. “Embrace the struggle,” she says. “Embrace your vulnerability, and realize that it’s better to feel than to feel nothing at all.”

HIRIE TOUR DATES:

October 11 – Ventura, CA @ Discovery Ventura
October 12 – Irvine, CA @ 5 Point Amphitheater
October 17 – Dallas, TX @ Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill
October 18 – Corpus Christi, TX @ House of Rock
October 19 – Austin, TX @ Stubbs BBQ
October 20 – Houston, TX @ Bronze Peacock Room, House of Blues
October 23 – Orlando, FL @ The Abbey
October 24 – Stuart, FL @ Terra Fermata
October 25 – Melbourne, FL @ Florida Institute of Tech
October 26 – Jacksonville Beach FL @ Surfer the Bar
October 27 – Greensboro, NC @ Blind Tiger
October 29 – Virginia Beach, CA @ Elevation 27
October 30 – Washington, DC @ Union Stage
November 1 – Brooklyn, NY @ Knitting Factory
November 2 – Asbury Park, NJ @ Wonder Bar
November 3 – Somerville, MA @ ONCE Ballroom
November 5 – Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom
November 6 –Detroit, MI @ El Club
November 8 – Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
November 9 – St. Louis, MO @ Blueberry Hill
November 10 – Omaha, NE @ Slowdown (Front Room)
November 12 – Denver, CO @ Cervantes Other Side
November 14 – Garden City, ID @ Visual Arts Collective
November 15 – Spokane, WA @ The Big Dipper
November 16 – Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
November 17 – Portland, OR @ Holocene
November 20 – Sacramento, CA @ Holy Diver
November 21 – Santa Cruz, CA @ The Catalyst
November 22 – San Luis Obispo, CA @ SLO Brew Rock
November 23 – San Diego CA @ The Observatory