Mainland transplant Patricia Jetton grew up in Kaneohe, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu playing ukulele and guitar by the ocean.
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“Reggae dominates the island radio stations, so I grew up with that as my primary influence,” says the 27-year-old singer.
After moving to San Diego in 2010, she began to meet people in the San Diego music scene and perform under the stage name Hirie. (The band’s name became HIRIE.)
Watch the video for the new single “Sun and Shine”
“I moved here to follow family over and I needed a change up from the island,” she says. “Music is my number one passion. When I met my sax player [Chris Hampton], he was helping me to just break into the scene. Fortunately, we were able to put our first album together alongside a real producer. We took off from there and didn’t stop.”
Hirie was able to quickly assemble a diverse group of musicians from a variety of musical influences including rock, funk, metal, NOLA soul, gospel and roots to play drums, bass, guitar, trombone and didgeridoo in her band.
“They are my family,” she says. “I couldn’t ask for a more amazing group of musicians. Everybody adds so many different elements to HIRIE, which is a dynamic we bring to the stage. We often show it by the way we cover a lot of different artists.”
Soon Hirie began headlining Southern California mainstays such as Winstons Beach Club, Belly Up Tavern and Music Box thereby gaining a foothold in the local market.
“Oh, it’s super welcoming of reggae music and of all music really,” she says of San Diego. “There are a lot of great reggae bands that have come out of there like Slightly Stoopid and Tribal Seeds. We have so much awesome music down here and everybody really supports each other.”
HIRIE recently completed a summer tour opening for Rebelution that took them from the Red Rocks in Colorado to the blues clubs of Chicago.
“For me, I was really excited to be playing our first amphitheaters,” says Hirie. “We had the opportunity to perform at a lot of the biggest venues in the country and some that are really old with a lot of history. It’s amazing to be in a place like Chicago and know that some of the greatest blues artists have come out of the same dressing room as you.”
Along the way, her 6-year-old daughter, Beija, came on tour with her and bonded with Rebelution singer Eric Rachmany.
“He would play Uno with her every single day,” she says. “They became best friends.”
Rachmany recently guest sang on Hirie’s latest single, “Sun and Shine.” The song delivers a funky, pop, reggae over a xylophone groove that drops into an upbeat breakbeat chorus with Rachmany and Hirie trading vocal harmonies.
As the band has experienced a swift trajectory over its short career, members are looking forward to their first national headlining tour this fall.
“We’ve been grinding really hard for four years,” says Hirie. “We’ve been able to support some really amazing artists and build our name. So now we are working toward a fall tour and writing our new album in December.”
Hirie’s first two albums approach reggae with a contemporary vibe held down by a unique, compelling voice. As she continues to make connections and bring her sound to a national audience, she is grateful to be part of such a positive musical community.
“Reggae holds a universal message,” she says. “It preaches love, peace and unity. Although a lot of it is controversial and going against the grain of authority, deep down reggae is a feel-good music. A lot of genres nowadays can be real aggravating and promote negative things, but I feel like reggae is known to draw people into inner peace. Whether people are barbecuing on a Sunday listening to Bob Marley’s ‘Catch A Fire’ and using it as medicine like the real heads, it’s good music that people gravitate toward independently.”