Successful model, savvy lyricist, and serial entrepreneur are three words that perfectly describe Derek Luh, a rising young artist out of Los Angeles that is on track to make big moves in music to close out 2019. Derek Luh initially broke onto the scene and solidified his status as a rising emcee in 2013 when his debut mixtape ‘L.A. Confidential” caught the attention of top hip-hop outlets and critics. Capitalizing on his early success, Derek Luh remained dedicated to refining his craft and proceeded to release 5 projects in the 5 years that followed. His infectious sound and stage presence have helped him amass over 500k followers on social media as well as landed him modeling campaigns with Puma, Diesel, Armani Exchange, Lacoste, and Snapchat.
Over the past year, Derek Luh has been hard at work developing his independent label, Low Sodium Records, building an interactive app, and preparing for the release of his next EP in partnership with Vydia. With new music on the way, Vydia had the opportunity to interview Derek Luh to learn more about his upcoming EP and the inspiration behind his new single ‘Jerry Maguire’ which is set for release this Friday! Here’s what he had to say:
What motivated you to pursue a career in music?
I’m a born artist. I love to create and express myself through music. I also saw the impact my music had on people whether it be inspiring them, motivating them, or reminding them that no matter what they are dealing with they aren’t alone.
Where do you draw inspiration for your work?
From my everyday life. Whatever emotions I’m feeling at that time I’ll draw inspiration from them and create.
Since the release of “L.A. Confidential”, you remained dedicated to your work and released 5 projects in 5 years. What has been your biggest motivation as an artist?
My biggest motivation for me as an artist is the need to constantly create and express myself. Sure, as an artist you will always need to feed the fans. They will fall in love with you and your work and will need more, but my biggest motivation as an artist is the need to express myself.
How have you grown as an artist since then?
Honestly, when I first started I had no idea what I was doing. I was just doing what felt natural, but as I studied my favorite artists and grew not only as a person but an artist myself, my subject matter grew with me. It went from surface-level topics to more heartfelt, true, raw emotions.
You’ve also had the opportunity to work alongside Dizzy Wright, French Montana, and Wale as well as tour with Machine Gun Kelly and IAMSU. What is the most impactful lesson you’ve learned working with such prominent players in hip-hop?
Their work ethic and how humble they are. No matter how much success they have they were always cool enough to say what’s up or put me on the game. I’ll forever be grateful for the opportunity to work alongside them.
You are currently in the process of gearing up for the release of your EP. What are you most excited about this project?
I’m most excited about people hearing my growth as an artist and just how fly each record is. I really tried to push myself and start doing something I’ve never really done before.
How will it stand out from your previous work?
It’s a completely new sound. From the production to how I sing and rap, everything is new and polished. I’m starting to become more polished, going from a mixtape rapper to an actual artist.
You’re about to release the first single and music video, ‘Jerry Maguire’ off of your upcoming EP. What’s the story behind this track?
Honestly that day in the studio I was like ‘I wanna make an anthem, something everyone can sing along to. I wanna be on stage and don’t even wanna sing the hook.” I couldn’t think of anything to write about because I had so much going on in my head and in my life. My thoughts were all over the place and then it hit me, I’m just going to make a song about exactly that.
What led you to create an animated video as the visual for this single?
I wanted to do a live video recreating everything mentioned in the song but that would have some Michael Bay type production so we settled for an animated version.
Who did you work with to come up with the concept?
My boys Diji Parq (Ryon Baharloo and John Monds), Landon Knox, Tony Rodini, and Chase and Cashe.
In addition to being a successful musician, you have spent the past year developing your own independent label, Low Sodium Records. What do you value most about being an independent artist?
The thing I value most about being an independent artist is being able to still have control of my masters, touring, and merch. I love the freedom to drop whenever and whatever I want with no one minimizing my creativity.
How do you balance developing your own indie label and creating new music?
It’s a learning process. Like with anything new you’re going to make mistakes but as long as you try and keep pushing through the obstacles. Don’t be afraid to fail.
What advice would you give other aspiring independent artists and entrepreneurs?
KNOW YOUR BUSINESS! You can’t be taken advantage of if you know your business like when and where the money is coming from and how it is being spent. Learn about royalties and publishing. Don’t expect someone to do it all for you because that’s when they take advantage of you and you’ll look up and have a lot of plaques but be broke and left wondering what happened.
How has Vydia empowered you as an independent artist?
Vydia is incredible! It’s a match made in heaven exactly what I’ve been looking for as an independent artist. I still own my masters, touring, and merch but they give you all the resources a major label would without some crazy 360 deal! I can’t express how much I love Vydia.
What’s one fact no one knows about you?
I was able to say the words “hydrogen peroxide” when I was 18 months old. Ask my mom, she loves telling that story.
With ‘Jerry Maguire’ dropping later this week, don’t miss out on any of the action! Follow Derek Luh on social media and pre-save his new single here. Keep an eye on our blog to see who will be featured next!