Local hip-hop artist reflects on career
Published 12:17 pm Wednesday, May 17, 2023
NILES — The path to music for local hip-hop artist and designer, Myron “HeyZeus” Waddell, was an indirect one.
He grew up in South Bend in the 90s, a self-described “boy band kid”. With a love for crafting, building, and Lego blocks that exists to this day, he’s always figured he’d become an engineer. Realizing the depth of math and science in the field, though, he was drawn to other creative outlets and set out in early adulthood to make clothes and work in graphic design, with no thoughts about becoming a musician. As the creator of posters and album art, he found himself in studios and at events, spaces occupied by artists, painters, and, of course, musicians. Surrounded by music, with friends involved in those creative endeavors, he was drawn to trying it himself.
“Why not join in the fun?,” he said. “Maybe music is another outlet for me.”
He described stepping into the rap world as a scary transition. For those first few vulnerable and awkward years, he didn’t tell others about his new art. He wanted the freedom to experiment and have fun, growing without guidelines or expectations and simply enjoying the process of creating. His connections from his work in art helped him land shows in a variety of places and, after receiving positive feedback, he chose to stick with rap. He described his musical journey as giving him purpose, confidence, and pride.
“You hear the cliches about ‘music saved my life’,” he said. “And I kinda always joke about that, but it sorta did.”
The process of trial and error in music was an important one for HeyZeus. It taught him to move past his pride, asking questions of others and learning how to fail. Whether a live performance was for an audience of three or 300, he found a way to appreciate and learn from it all. He recounted a story of once falling down while on stage, almost literally rolling with it and continuing the show, learning later that viewers had thought it a part of the performance.
“I’m really big on trial and error,” he said. “I’m appreciative of everything I’ve learned, mistakes I’ve made.”
He hopes to pass that message onto other artists, that failing and being uncomfortable are a part of the path to growing and finding success. As we conversed, he stumbled onto a new phrase that described his philosophy: “Be Humble Enough To Fail.”
The local music and culture scene have been an influence in that way of thinking. He described how his travels showed him how lucky he was to come from South Bend and how the surrounding region was full of great music and artists. Even before becoming a musician himself, he was learning about the scene at McCormick’s, The Well, LangLab, and a variety of dive bars or underground shows.
The music of HeyZeus is a way to tell his authentic story. His priority is spreading fun and positive energy. His goal during live performances is to amaze his audience, giving them an unforgettable experience. He can often be caught doing pre-show stretches, prepping his body for all of the movement coming on stage. As a fan of professional wrestling, he channels that electrifying energy to his audience.
“When I’m done with this, I need to be on the ground sweating,” he said.
When HeyZeus is off stage, he continues to create other art. With Homegrown Hype, he and his partners are working to promote creativity in the area. They pay homage to local artists, businesses, and creatives through a series of physical trading cards and work to provide platforms and connections. Their motto is “Grow Your Own Flowers”, following the philosophy that each person has the ability to find their own success and happiness, even if they need a hand.
When asked for his advice on how to save the world in one sentence, he replied: “Support local art.”
HeyZeus is always making new music. He looks forward to numerous performances this summer, including a Wu Tang tribute show at The Rocki Button on June 23rd. You can look for that and other shows by following @heyzeusxx on Instagram and you can follow Homegrown Hype at homegrownhype.com.
Justin Flagel is the founder of Red Chuck Productions, where he writes, tells stories, and creates new media. Follow his work at redchuckproductions.com. Feedback can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.