THIS year has gotten off to a flyer in regards…
the talent coming through. Hollie Haines has been performing for a while but it seems 2018 will be a very pivotal and successful one for her! I ask the London-based songwriter the E.P., The Walls I Built (released last May), and how she feels about it, looking back. She tells me more about a conceptual album she is releasing this year; her attachment and bond with Cambridge and Leeds – and some new artists she is backing for success.
Haines discusses her tastes and the artists she grew up on; whether she has gigs coming up; how important London is in terms of her sound/direction; the plans she has worked out for this year – what advice she would give any new songwriter of the moment.
Hi, Hollie. How are you? How has your week been? How was Christmas?
Hey! I’m great, thanks. This week has been so nice - getting back to work after a lovely Christmas. I’m heading to New York at the end of the week (which I can’t wait for).
For those new to your work; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m Hollie; a lyric-obsessed folkie with some Rock and Country influences. I can’t really pin it down to one genre - but I like to refer to it as music for people who like a cry to music. Emotional lyrics are my favourite thing to write...
I am very honest in my writing.
The five-track E.P., The Walls I Built, was released last May. What compelled its creation and how do you feel about it looking back?
The Walls I Built was about me releasing a collection of songs that were, at the time, the ones I was proudest of. The E.P. goes through a range of styles and I created the sounds and brought the songs to life with my band - which was a really special process to me. It felt like something I wanted to make to mark where I was at that point in my life and career (at twenty-one-years-old). I’m really proud of the E.P. and all the music on it and it definitely helped me find my footing in music and learn a lot more about the recording and releasing process.
But, looking forward; I want to create a more sonically-cohesive album with stronger themes and more input on the production from my side.
There have been a lot of positive comments and reviews of the E.P. Is it humbling seeing your music connect with people?
I overthink and worry a lot about my music and normally have to be subdued by my band; so it’s good to have that reiterated to me by outside people. It’s really touching to hear people say such lovely things about work I’ve put so much of myself into.
I know you are planning a seven-track concept album. Can you reveal the concept and the themes you explore?
A few months ago, I found myself at a tough point in my life. I had just graduated and was about to move to London and felt like I was going through a slight loss of self (and I needed to get re-inspired).
The idea of putting down my experiences of love and loss in an album-form really interested me - and I started to build the idea of creating the album that I would have loved to be able to turn to every time I had lost someone or something.
Was it quite a brave and hard decision recording a concept album – as they are usually quite challenging and not always well-received by the press?
This is the most excited and passionate I’ve ever felt about my music - and I’ve never wanted to work so hard at something! I know there are going to be challenges (I face) but I would rather feel excited and happy about my music and face the fears head-on - than create something I don’t have the same passion in...
I’m willing to take the risk!
I remember the moment music came into my life. Do you remember the first song/artist that entered your life? Who were the musicians you grew up on?
My dad loves music and all types of music; so I grew up on what he was listening to: Richard Thompson, Kirsty MacColl and Foo Fighters have stuck with me from that. My brother also loved Country music; so I got into that pretty early, too - and loved Taylor Swift from her Country-era.
You are based in London but have spent time in Cambridge and Leeds. Why did you decide to come down to London?
I came to the end of my music degree in Leeds and felt like I needed a change. My brother lives in London so I decided to just take the plunge and move in with him (and see how it went). It’s the best choice I could have made. I absolutely love being in such a big city and I’ve met some great people since moving.
I still visit Leeds a lot for gigs and recording - so it feels like I’ve got the best of both.
How important are the people and the city regarding your work and sound?
When I first moved, I had hardly any friends in the city and knew no musicians - which I found really hard. Once I started playing gigs and going to events I met some new people - which helped me settle in and inspired me to work harder and create more.
IN THIS PHOTO: Tamzene/PHOTO CREDIT: Tamzene
Who are the new artists you recommend we check out?
One of my favourite parts of going to Leeds College of Music was the amazing musicians I was surrounded by and watched grow. An amazing artist called Tamzene sung backing vocals on The Walls I Built. She writes such beautiful love songs.
My fellow folkie when I was in Leeds, Lauren Rycroft, is also a fantastic writer...such a great performer.
IN THIS PHOTO: Lauren Rycroft/PHOTO CREDIT: Pear & Bear Photography
If you had the chance to select the three albums that mean the most to you – which would they be and why?
Father John Misty – Pure Comedy
Marika Hackman – I’m Not Your Man
Both of these I listened to as I finished my degree and moved to London. It kept me creative and inspired when it felt quite difficult to be. They’re both fantastic musicians and incredibly clever lyricists.
Taylor Swift – Speak Now
I’ve always loved Taylor Swift and am such a fan of her evolution into Pop music - but this album sticks with me. It has no co-writes on it. Each track paints such a vivid picture of the story it tells. I love it.
Is there any advice you would give to fellow artists coming through right now?
Work hard…but also take your time. Putting in the hours on something you're passionate about is really important.
Can we see you perform anywhere soon? What gigs do you have coming up?
I’m playing at The Finsbury on the 15th January. I’ll be announcing some more shows in London and Leeds very soon.
Your live sets see you quip and share stories with the audience. Is it freeing being that open? Is it important to make that connection with them?
I’m quite an open person really - and my lyrics are so honest, already. I don’t feel like it’s sharing much more than I already am by telling the stories behind the songs. But, also, it is an important part of music to me - knowing that the people listening can relate or connect with the songs.
2018 is here. What do you have planned in terms of goals and ambitions? How did you see in the New Year?
I actually made a list of ten resolutions for 2018 (for the first time). Releasing the album this year is my biggest goal at the moment but I also want to collaborate as much as possible. I’m also planning to listen to an album I haven’t heard every week as well as take a trip to The Netherlands, alone, to do some writing.
I saw in the New Year with old friends from school. I wore a suit which I’ve been trying to be brave enough to do for ages…so it was a good start to the year!
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can name a song and I’ll play it here (not one of yours as I’ll do that).
The Big Moon – Cupid
I’ve been obsessed with this song since summer - and the line “Time to turn and run from romance/I’m backing out” is one of my favourite lyrics from 2017.
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