Become professional singer was not Hemlocke Springs’ plan. Born Isimeme Udu in Concord, North Carolina, the budding star had more academic plans for her future: After earning a degree in biology from Spelman and considering a career in the medical field, her interest in bioinformatics led to a master’s degree in science at Dartmouth.
“During my first two months here, I was starting to think med school wasn’t for me,” she laughs. She talks to rolling stone from her current apartment near the Dartmouth campus before returning home to North Carolina. “My thing was like ‘I’m going to do some medical research, maybe get papers, and then I can do my PhD somewhere.
But the music lingered in the background of Udu’s life. She did choir in middle school and was introduced to GarageBand by a friend in high school. She toyed with the program, eventually investing in Logic while in college.
“It was kind of a stress mechanism,” she explains. “Whenever I just wanted to get stuff out, I was just like, ‘I’m just going to continue on Logic.’ But it was never anything concrete. Just a hobby.
Around the time she started making songs on GarageBand and Logic, Udu became obsessed with 80s music. She had grown up loving EDM like Cascada and Calvin Harris as well as K-pop bands. like BTS and EXO, but a Spotify recommendation of Tears for Fears’ “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” sent her into nostalgia-fueled synth-pop. rabbit hole that reshaped his taste and his musical inspiration.
As she began her program at Dartmouth, Udu began to wonder if she should let people hear the songs that were becoming more fully formed realities. She would put a song on SoundCloud only to immediately delete it soon after. Then, one day, she got tired of giving up so quickly.
“I’ve always been reluctant to reveal that I sing and do Logic on the side,” she explains. Around the beginning of this year, she made up her mind to own it and even start telling her friends about it. “I just wanted to get rid of that feeling of embarrassment.”
In the spring, Udu, under the name Hemlocke Springs, released a demo titled “Jacob” which was then followed by “Gimme All Ur Luv”, a one-song indie romance with one of the dreamiest choruses ever. the year. It was written at a time when she was really depressed, taking three of her toughest classes. She was avoiding an assignment for one of those classes and recovering from a bout of Covid when she stayed up late one night to write the track. It ended up changing his life.
“I was just getting into TikTok,” she says. She saw how independent artists promoted their own songs there and thought she might as well try it herself. “I posted it. And I went to sleep. And I woke up and it got more views than I thought.
She thought about deleting the video, but something told her not to. “I hung up the phone and remember waking up and seeing Grimes commenting on it.”
Since then, Udu’s whole life started to change. She had an internship to focus on last summer and of course her final set of classes in her masters program. She didn’t want to give up her studies just yet. But in the meantime, she focused on what could be, signing with managers and starting to think about her next song. In September, she enters the studio for the first time with a producer.
“I just used to do it in the corner of my room,” she says. “Even though it was a bit more elaborate, it didn’t seem too big.”
They worked on two songs which ended up receiving “harsh reactions” from his friends. One of them pointed out how much better the demo version of “Girlfriend” sounded instead of the studio take. She listened, had the self-produced take mixed and mastered, then dropped a preview on her way to a Halloween party.
“Girlfriend” has amassed over a million Spotify streams and over 50,000 videos with the song’s groundbreaking soundtrack for all kinds of content. Many videos simply rave about the quality of the song.
“People say it reminds them of a Prince song, and I’m like, ‘Prince?!’ I’m just a little country girl!
She was particularly moved when she saw a video of someone saying it’s a great song for “stimming,” or self-stimulating behavior, which people with autism often use as a form of physical release. She also felt seen by people who called her “the goofy black girl anthem.
“These in particular really touched me,” she says. “I’m just happy people are listening to it.”
Udu hasn’t ruled out a doctorate yet, but she’s also excited to see where her music career will take her. She wants to release an album soon and maybe even perform.
“Now that I have the opportunity to do it, I’m like, ‘Oh shoot, yeah! Let’s go for that!'”
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