Young, beautiful, and fun, Joey Suarez, a talented musician, model, and accountant, leverages his impressive social media presence to encourage others. One of twelve siblings in a religious household, Joey experienced abuse that, while difficult and life altering, has helped shape him into the man he is today. With his EP recently released and more energizing music in the works, Joey has a message of hope to share with the LGBT community, and everyone seeking to overcome obstacles.
Here’s a look into the heart and mind of Joey Suarez:
Your music has a captivating sense of urgency, what’s the driving force behind it?
Joey Suarez: It speaks to Millennials, people turning 18 going to clubs for the first time and experiencing that environment. It’s like that “chasing high” feeling when you’re like, “the best time I ever had was at the club,” and you’re trying to relive that. My music is me trying to regurgitate that feeling. My EP (Candy Kid) took over a year and I attracted a big gay following. It hit me that I was speaking to a lot of young gay people. This had a direct effect on the songs that I wrote because I started writing about relationships and love in the gay world. I think this had a big impact on the EP. With songs like “Love Me Back” and “Home,” songs about gay love, I was trying to speak to the gay world in a fully rounded way that I don’t think it has been. I thought my music would be a good resource for people to understand what they’re getting into as far as “coming out.”
Tell us about your creative process?
JS: A lot of it is driven by dance. If I don’t hear a beat, I won’t write to it. The hardest part comes from the lyrics. I don’t “spoke” well, I’m not very good with English or grammar, so I depend on my experiences. A lot of it is about “gay dating.” People have hard experiences, and I feel like I draw in a lot of those feelings. I have one rule when writing: I refrain from gender profiling. I don’t say “his/her, boy/girl,” because my music is for everybody. My music isn’t meant to section me off from anybody; it’s my way of feeling a part of everybody. I feel if my music resonates with enough people, then the way I feel isn’t “lonely” it’s something relatable that people can use to hopefully get over their own troubles. That’s where I’m coming from as an artist.
Today’s dating scene can be daunting. Your song, “Home” points to an “other side” of dating and finding love. What drove your sentiments in these lyrics?
JS: Although it sounds like I’m talking about someone for me, I’m not. I’m talking about my best friends getting married: my best gay guy friend, and my best trans girl friend. They planned both their weddings on the exact same day, and both asked me to be the Best Man. I panicked. I called them crying and said “I’ll get on a plane right after one wedding and come to the next.” They moved their weddings a week apart and I was able to be the Best Man. I kind of came from the perspective of “Ok, I’m watching my best friends get married” and it was powerful watching them fall in love. “Home” is the experience of me watching them get married. It rejuvenated my passion towards marriage. After watching them get married, I was like “Oh my God, I want a wedding and it needs to be ‘princess.’” They were beautiful weddings and touched my heart in ways I can’t forget, so I wrote a song about it.
“Be authentic…, be you… Be relatable; don’t try to be something that you aren’t.”
Any love in your life?
JS: My music. I’m married to my music. There’s no love in my life right now. If it comes, it happens, if it doesn’t, I’m ready to do “me.” But, I’m not saying I’m not open to it!
You mention Kesha as representing what you want represented in your work, what is it about her that you believe influences you?
JS: She’s liberating, I love her aesthetic in her video work. It’s the first concert I went to, and the first live performer to make an impression on me. I really ain’t into music. The most music I knew was Linkin Park, Evanescence and Daft Punk. As far as I was concerned, that was “music.” She penetrated my teen years and got me to open up to pop music. I was kind of stuck in an Alternative world. People used to tell me my voice was better for Pop and I thought, If Kesha can do it different, then I can do it different. I took that inspiration and started finding my own way of putting a twist on Pop music, thus came my EDM-Pop twist.
You come from an abusive environment that yielded healing and restoration in your relationship with your mother. How has this shaped you?
JS: This is very relevant. There’s a lot of abuse conversations going around Hollywood right now. I’ve dealt with abuse on a consistent level, where it’s so familiar to me that I’ve been able to cope with it to the point of forgiveness. By forgiveness, I mean that I’ve allowed myself to let go of those feelings and push my career in a positive direction. I don’t want my abuse to be a sympathy card; I want people to feel liberated. My siblings have also been abused. For me, my success reflects perseverance. By becoming successful, I hope to show them that I’m fine, and they will be too. It’s a lead by example sort of deal as opposed to being like “my daddy’s a horrible person.” He is, but there’s a lot of daddies that are horrible, and they still have great kids, that’s the message I’m carrying as far as the abusive environment I grew up in. My mom is responsible for teaching me the whole forgiveness thing. It’s the most important lesson I could take away.
Your mother believes that God gave you both the chance to heal. What does this reconciliation do for you?
JS: Her religion is very prevalent to homosexuals in the closet. Most people in the closet are probably religious. She felt liberated from the “situation” because in the end she understood what I had gone through. She related, even though she had some residual feelings from being abused by men, some of them gay. She had a vendetta against them, but having two gay sons, she had a chance to get past those feelings. The best feeling I ever had was when my parents took me out to dinner before I moved to NYC, thanking me for teaching them something they had never known. The lesson isn’t for you, you know who you are, the question isn’t how you feel, and you know how you feel. It’s about who in your life needs to learn how to love different kinds of people. By coming out of the closet, you could help someone better understand compassion and love.
What message can you give to other people experiencing abuse?
JS: It’s simple: Say something. Very often in abuse you feel alone and isolated, we don’t think saying something will make a difference. For many of us, the people who abuse are the people we love or trust. Coming forward with things like abuse disrupts your personal support system. As much as you think saying something can ruin your life, not saying something could ruin your life. The reason we have such an issue with “rape culture” these days is because we don’t talk about it enough. In the news, we talk about the top 15% of rape culture, workplace abuse, and people abusing power to manipulate other people. The rest of the 85% that isn’t reported is usually family or someone you trust. Because you trust them, talking about it can seem useless. The message I want people to take away is that it cannot only change your life, but it can also change the life of someone that an abuser could be hurting. Say something; don’t worry about who you’re calling out. Do it because there is someone potentially out there that can’t say something. That’s the message. It’s what could truly end that culture.
You’re studying Tax Law. It’s thought that you must give up everything to achieve fame. How’s the balance between taxes and performing?
JS: When it came to Tax Law, I wasn’t studying it, but had started working for a company. I was certified to be a Tax Law Accountant. It was a huge part of my success. It was a great job, and the company was so supportive of my art that they gave me the opportunity to circumvent the process of auditioning. I was able to meet a bunch of amazing, talented folk willing to coach and mentor me. Being an accountant supported me as an artist and gave me resources. You can’t expect for the world to fall in your lap, you have to earn it. I go back each tax season to work. It gave me a lot of pride in myself because I accomplished something outside of the arts, pointing me right back into the arts.
How do you find modeling helps you to express yourself?
JS: It goes back to abuse. For a long time, I felt disconnected from my body because other people seemed to know more about what to do with it than I did. When I took my first modeling shoot at 18, I was shocked. It gave me confidence. This backfired, because I did let social media affect my confidence, and for a time I was more concerned about how many followers I had. That said, I credit modeling for laying the foundation for my music career.
Social Media is a driving force behind your success, what can you tell others looking to also increase their reach?
JS: Be authentic. People don’t want to see people fake on social media. Post something authentic, be you. If someone feels that they are going to have a window into your life, give them that window. Be relatable; don’t try to be something that you aren’t.
What’s next? What exciting things can we expect from Joey Suarez?
JS: I have some Spanish versions of music coming out, live versions and remixes too. Everything should be full force soon. My EP was my version of taking a breath. I have a couple music videos being made. Hopefully by January I’ll be everywhere, and hopefully a label will pick me up soon! After putting out so much music recently, I have some investors.