M. the Heir Apparent Discusses Success, Music Career


Emily Sevin

Kyle Terrizzi, M. the Heir Apparent.

California singer-songwriter Kyle Terrizzi knows what it’s like to try and make it as an independent creator. Currently working as the one-man band M. the Heir Apparent, Terrizzi has advice and insight into negotiating the twists and turns of the lucrative music industry. 

Prior to his 2016 debut EP Be Free, Terrizzi has released three albums under the name The Plastic Arts, which had a similar acoustic style to his current act. Since then, he has explored acoustic covers that have been added to multiple editorial playlists on Spotify; his most popular cover, of DJ Snake’s 2016 release “Middle,” garnered over 10 million listens on Spotify alone. 

Terrizzi’s covers have won him a strong following, particularly in the Philippines. This audience provides him with a reliable platform for his upcoming original releases. His international success and loyal following in the San Francisco Bay Area earned him the opportunity to open for San Francisco artist Matt Nathanson on the West Coast portion of his tour. Nathanson is best known for his 2007 hit, “Come On Get Higher.” 

Terrizzi uses a unique release strategy.

“Artists are competing for attention now more than ever,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “Meanwhile, the work of most independent artists is largely ignored upon release.” 

Terrizzi went on to explain that he will be releasing over a dozen new original singles in 2019, rather than the typical two or three that one might expect. 

“I think independent artists especially need to divorce themselves from the archetype of the album as a ‘grand statement,’ put their faith in their own gift, and create,” he wrote in an email to the Review. “Most importantly they should release music constantly.” The business side of music can be demanding, but artists can become successful by finding the right product, target audience, and schedule. 

However, even when they find all those things, the best still don’t always rise to the top. 

“Myths are easy to identify,” he wrote. “In the music industry, one is that it’s a meritocracy. Another is that talent is rare. Myths about songwriting are harder to articulate, but one is that pop music is categorically easier to craft.” 

Terrizzi drew attention to the misconception that songwriting is easy. While people like to give pop music a hard time because of its sheer marketability, massive hits like Drake’s “In My Feelings” are often written by large teams of professionals — an entire portion of the industry is dedicated to the manufacturing of pop songs that rely on tried-and-true formulas to make the chorus stick in your head.

“Sometimes I wish someone could have tapped me on the shoulder when I first started writing songs and told me that the creative process would always feel this difficult,” he wrote. “I would force myself to do it every day and felt like I was wringing myself like a bar rag to write songs that even I knew weren’t very good.” 

In a craft like this, work ethic is key. “The old adage that writing is ten percent inspiration and ninety percent perspiration is absolutely true in my experience,” he continued. “I really believe in the power of clarity in songwriting. For me, almost all of the songwriting process is the lyrics. What takes the most time is writing a lyric that is a complete idea from the beginning to the end.” 

It’s easy to get lost in a song with effective melody and chord choice, but the written word brings in a new empathic element. Lyrics often offer more clarity than any instrumental composition could. 

“I want the listener to be able to trace my thinking from the first line to the last,” Terrizzi wrote. However, he certainly does not rule out the use of collaboration when creating songs. 

“When it comes to the arrangement of the song, I work this out with my longtime collaborator Gawain Mathews,” he explained. “But if the song doesn’t stand on its own with just voice and guitar, then I haven’t done my job in the writing process.”

Today, Terrizzi is a songwriter in Berkeley, CA. In 2019, he plans to release new material every month on all digital platforms. His advice looks to the future, both in writing music with discipline and in bringing his songs to the public.

More on Terrizzi can be found at thisismxoxo.com.