David Hernandez: It’s All About Love
Change is the only constant. By observing the variety in our world, we make new preferences; we discover new answers. Therefore, we are not the same person we were even moments ago. Each new moment is a new birth, a new opportunity for us to synch with our own energy flow, to be a fuller version of who we are continually becoming. Even our sense of love is not static; each time we embrace curiosity and wonder, we become ourselves more and more.
David Hernandez, an artist who expresses himself through a variety of creative outlets, says, “I am ever-changing. I’m free-flowing. I’m a chameleon. I can blend into my surroundings. But I think at the core of all of it, I’m searching for love at its fullest capacity; whether that’s self-love, love for other people, or love from other people. I think my life’s goal is really to find the epitome of what it is to love and be loved. And I think there’s so many seasons of that. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s such a reflected experience, because when you love someone, that sort of love is reflected back onto you in so many different ways. I’m a Gemini, but my rising sign is Cancer. So I’m a very emotional person—I can cry at a beautiful rainfall or a gorgeous sunset or the puppy commercials—I’m really in tune with that part of myself.”
Our emotions are the indicators of where we stand within our own life’s creation process. When we are aware of it, we can recognize how we feel—honoring that emotion, releasing it if we want to, and deliberately moving in the emotion we prefer to experience most. Catering first to our state of being will allow us to be independent of external feelings and stimulations. As we tune into a state of loving beingness from within, that love becomes naturally unconditional and separate from what is happening outside of us; we tune into a state of being that inspires us to take satisfying steps towards experiencing our purest desires, which in essence is to feel good.
David comments on learning to love unconditionally. “Although I have amazing parents, they separated when I was really, really young. I always split my time between two different households; the holidays were always divided. It was hard to juggle. So in that aspect, I became a pleaser. I wanted to make sure everybody was happy in both households. And I think in some of that, I kind of lost a sense of self. Then you throw in the gay factor into that, which made me a really great actor as well, because I had to present as if I was just like everybody else around me when in truth, I was not at all. So there were a lot of different survival mechanisms that I learned as a kid that I didn’t realize until recently with some of the work that I’ve done with myself. But everybody grows up differently and with different obstacles, so I’m not special in that aspect. But I think that growing up the way I did—in a Mexican American family that was somewhat traditional—created a lot of structure for me. But it also created a lot of desire to break free of that. I’ve always paved my own path. You tell me not to do something, I will do that very opposite thing. That’s the rebel in me. That’s beautiful, but also problematic. But I’m super grateful for the way I grew up; my parents and family were really, really supportive. Especially with all my career milestones. When I did American Idol, a lot of the press had some negative things to say about me. Nobody in my family knocked me down or sold me out. Everyone was supportive. And up until now, it is like that. So I think growing up in a broken family would be a hindrance, but it made me fight even more because I was an underdog, and I hope that I can be that inspiration for other kids out there that are struggling with the same thing,” says David.
Without relationships, we wouldn’t have any feedback; therefore we would cease to exist. Our family, kids, and life partner relationships are the most stubborn mirror reflections to us—they show us the side of ourselves that we may not be able to escape. But these reflections are also the most expansive; and so we serve the same reflective role for those we are in relationships with. We can’t get rid of them, and why would we even want to? The massive value that these relationships bring to us is beyond description. When we experience something unwanted in these relationships, we can recognize that there is value in this situation, look within and ask ourselves, “What’s here for me? Why do I feel this way? What do I really want to experience in this situation?” And if we are honest with ourselves, the answer will be: more love, more harmony, more balance. We can either wait until someone else changes for us, or we can change ourselves and then see our loved ones in the light of their full human potential—in their divine essence of love.
About David’s divine expression through music, he says, “If it feels vulnerable, it feels empowering. It feels scary sometimes. I think the utmost form of connection is vulnerability and sharing our stories with people even though they hurt because it lets the other person know that they’re not alone and that I’ve survived this experience. And so they can, too. I think that’s what humans are put on this earth for. I don’t think we’re meant to live alone in isolation. And I think being vulnerable takes away the shame of whatever happened in your past or whatever trials and tribulations or whatever happened to you in your childhood. Being vulnerable makes you unashamed of those things to which I think is the breeding ground for isolation and darkness. If you’re ashamed, you tend to pull away from society or your friends or family. So I think the way that I like to express myself is very like therapy for me. That’s what it starts with first, like, I create to free me. And it just so happens that it also frees hundreds of 1000s of other people and hopefully millions one day to be able to look at my story or my music or hear the lyrics because I’m speaking the 100% truth. This last album that I recorded and dropped in March, called Don’t @ Me, was a seven song EP and probably the most honest I’ve ever been in my entire life and career. I touched on things that really were eating at me for all my life. And it was scary. I definitely didn’t want to do it initially, because I’ve been through such a wringer with the media in the past that I’ve had PTSD with that. But now for the most part I love it. I honestly think music has saved me more times than I know. And that’s with any art form, whether you’re a painter, whether you’re a street artist on Venice Boulevard, or doing whatever it is that you do, expressing yourself can only lead to good things through art.”
Everything is possible. There is an infinite range of potential we are choosing to tune in to. It’s valuable to follow the guidelines that have been set for as long as they resonate with us. But we are, with no exception, magnificent creators that can break the mold and create something new. Our uniqueness of expression can be fully sensed only by ourselves, as we all speak from our own vantage points. The uniqueness of our expression is an undeniable desire to create into physicality through the divine energy flow of Everything That Exists.
“I think in the first half of my career, I did a lot of pleasing. I did a lot of what the label or the managers or the agents were telling me to record. I used different pronouns because people weren’t comfortable with my sexuality. Therefore, I sort of acquiesced to their discomfort. And that was really challenging. I will say that, looking back on those years of pleasing artistically, I wasn’t happy. And I knew that I wasn’t happy doing it. But I thought that was the way to success, only to realize now that success is really determined from within. So now I create music that pertains to me. My good friend, Malynda Hale, and I had this conversation a few months back before, right after I released my record. And she said, ‘Make art for you first. Always do that for you, as art is intended to be for you. And if people relate to that, great, it doesn’t matter if it’s five people or 5 million people, but just always stay true to you.’ And I hold that with me because it’s like a tug of war inside as I’m competitive. I come from the reality competition world of American Idol, where you have to beat the next person every week. I had to really adjust my thinking that life isn’t about that. Now I’m in a place where I embrace my peers. I want to go see their shows. I want to download their music. I want to promote them on my IG. And believe it or not, it gets really tiring being just so into yourself. I love that I’m an independent artist, that I have my own social media handles, that I have my own publicist. I create what I want to create. And that’s so powerful, but I’m only able to do that because I stand on the shoulders of giants that came before me to give us these sorts of freedoms that normally we wouldn’t have. And we live in a digital age. That really helps an independent artist like me.”
Sometimes we get caught in too much comparison where comparison can’t be. From an energetic perspective, we are receiving what we are ready for. Hence, everyone’s readiness is different, so the only comparison one can project is with the readiness of oneself. In that sense, nobody can take anything from anyone, as there are infinite sources for everyone to experience exactly what they are ready to. The good news is that our readiness is not handled to us by the Universe; it’s us being up to speed of the movement we have sent for the Universe to flow in the direction of what we desire the most. Ultimately, the meaning of success is up to us.
About David’s definition of success, he says, “I love that idea of, and I believe it to be true, that you create your own definition of success, because success is so relative to everybody. I’ve done a lot of soul searching when it comes to success. My idea of success has also evolved and changed over the years when I thought I was going to be at this age, then now at this age, it’s so different. And I’m cool with that. But right here in a moment, when I look back at myself and the career in the art that I make, as long as it’s true and authentic and vulnerable, it doesn’t really matter how many likes it gets, or how many streams. And I’m so proud of it.”
Then David pauses, and passionately shares about his artistic expression through music, “I’ve always been infused with R&B roots. I grew up on Aretha, Donny Hathaway, The Temptations, but also my mom would play vinyl records of Journey and the Cranberries and so many different genres and styles and music. She loved everything, so I feel like subconsciously, those things are infused in my artistic expressions. I have a raspy rock type voice, but I also have smooth R&B vocals like Keith Sweat or Brian McKnight. So it varies, but now I feel like everything is so authentically me, because all those parts seem to fit. And I think that just comes with time and like sitting in this vessel for 39 years, and being like, ‘Okay, this isn’t going anywhere. So let’s just get with it and figure out all the pieces of me.’ So that’s where, and that’s what I’m currently doing. I think I know more today than I did yesterday, and I’ll know more tomorrow than I do today.”
We all have these moments when we just allow ourselves to be and sense the lifeforce expressing itself through what we are doing at a moment. That is what many call inspiration, being present in the moment, being one with our divine self.
David is gradually building his touring schedule after a rather long pause due to the pandemic restrictions, and he can’t wait to be fully back on stage and sing for his audience. “I’m probably the closest it feels like to flying. That’s what it feels like, being on stage. And then there’s moments where you just black out, because I think your higher power just takes a hold of you. And you go and just trust that whatever is supposed to happen in that divine moment. From my experience, it always has. I look back and at moments where I felt like I was flying on stage. And I just smile. It was dope. So that’s what it feels for me as an entertainer, but also feels that way too, when I’m in the studio. I completed a song that feels like a journey and therapy. What’s cool about the pandemic is I learned how to produce myself. So I can really just go into my office studio, which I’m sitting in right now with my microphone right here, and just lay whatever comes to mind. And then leave it for a minute and come back to it. I get to express myself through art, which is probably the single most healing thing that all humans can relate to.”
Tuning into your inner world and then acting, will always reflect authenticity as all the outward stimulations are not as dominant at that moment. “I was inspired to create my song ily because I was actually inspired by my producer who does a lot of my mixing and he’s a business partner of mine. He was like, ‘David, you have so much to tell, I think you should drop this EP.’ I had just wrapped up a musical in Las Vegas, Naked Boys Singing, I had done that for six months. And the contract was ending a month before the album. I was like, ‘I don’t know if I could do this. This is crazy.’ And he was like, ‘No, you got this.’ So I really buckled up in my apartment in Las Vegas. And I just started writing and I would sometimes not even write, I would get in front of the mic, and I would just freestyle. So my process is not really always the same. Sometimes I come up with the melody on my own, and then I’ll produce the music around it but oftentimes, I’ll hear a sound or something that inspires the melody for me. And then sometimes I’ll write the whole thing out before I get in front of the microphone. Other times I’ll just get in front of the microphone, see what comes out because you can always go back and edit right and so that was the process for this EP. It was super, every process was different. The first song I recorded was “Miss You” and I don’t know they all just come from different places in my life, but a lot has already been happening through the past two years. So I wasn’t low on material. Let’s just say that. Because there was a lot that happened. First that I was like, I was ready to burst with rainbow glitter everywhere. Everything unicorns, and all the things,” excitedly says David.
The most important relationship one can cultivate is with oneself. If every time we want people to change for us to feel better, then it creates a co-dependency where everything and everyone around us has to cater to our one steadiness. It’s our work to get in alignment and honor our desires, as well as honoring the desires of others. When we look within ourselves and get steady, from that divine, God-like perspective we only can love ourselves, and therefore love others.
About self-love, David says, “You have to be 100% okay with discovering you, and learning to love you, before you can really wholeheartedly love somebody else. I don’t always love myself 100%. Thank God, I have a partner who understands that and likes to reinforce the things that I forget about when I’m feeling alone or lacking. But I think the baggage that you need to unpack can only be done by you and your self-journey—your love. You can expect somebody else to do that for you, but I think oftentimes people go into relationships, and they have all this baggage and this weight, and they have these unrealistic expectations from their significant other or even from friends or family, why didn’t you know this or help me with this. And that’s not how this works. You can’t unload that on someone you have to. You have to do this. So, but again, the most important love is self-love.”
And then David adds, “My favorite aspect about myself is my tenacity. I don’t ever really give up. And I also love mine and people’s vulnerability.”
Like David, are you stubbornly committed to yourself to experience a fuller and fuller version of self-love? Being vulnerable with yourself is being honest about how you feel—the emotional guidance system that shows you where you are within your own creation process.
Photography // Bobby Quillard