I’M starting the week…
by speaking with Holander and stepping into her world. She discusses the story behind her new single, Smoke, and what happens next. I ask about Holander raising the flag for equality and L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. rights; whether there are any tour dates coming up; the three albums she treasures the most – she reveals whether a U.K. trip is a possibility.
The American songwriter discusses gender equality in the industry and how far we have come; the artists she grew up around; a particular fond memory from her time in music; which upcoming artists we need to get behind – she ends the interview by selecting an awesome song.
Hi, Holander. How are you? How has your week been?
Shi*t was crazy leading up to the release - and then I got strep throat last week. I’ve been taking it easy since Smoke came out; been reading a lot. I just finished Sugar in My Bowl by Erica Jong.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Pink hair, pink eyebrows; neon sounds. Holander is a party girl plagued by her own emotions. To me, this project has an electric current. Holander represents the heightened emotionality of many of today’s youth and talks about our social disconnect with social media and technology; the expectations placed on my generation, not to mention the societal pressures placed on young womxn. It can make the emotions we feel become infused with adrenaline. It’s raw, it’s vulnerable and it stands firmly in its sincerity.
Can you talk about Smoke? What is the story behind the song?
Well. I got the title from a co-write I had done a year back - we wrote a song with this lyric: “There’s only smoke in my home when you come around”. I always really liked that concept. So, I actually named the song before I wrote it which I’ve never done before.
I took from this moment I had with my boyfriend at the time. We were standing on a balcony overlooking the city lights in downtown L.A., passing a joint in a circle, and he leaned over and blew smoke into my mouth. It was sort of this euphoric moment. I was head over heels for him and this moment felt so intimate. It felt like we had a piece of this universal love, that we were connected to some bigger than us.
The song is about young love. The heightened emotions. The feeling when you’re scared to surrender for fear of getting hurt but you just do it. You just surrender yourself to the fall. I very purposely wanted the song to have non-traditional structure; to mirror the chaos of the emotions I was feeling.
Do you think there might be more material later this year? What are you working on?
Oh, yeah. I’ve already got some stuff lined up to share. Shhhh; but I’ve got a music video for Smoke in the pipeline. I’m also really excited about the next song I’m going to release- it’s gonna make you dance and feel spicy feels!
PHOTO CREDIT: @adrienordorica
You are keen to provoke social change and raise awareness. How important is it raising the flag for the L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. community and feminism?!
It’s incredibly important but it’s just sad that, in this day and age, it’s still relevant to ask someone about how they support equality. It feels like it should just be a given at this point, and the fact that it’s not just shows how blatantly and desperately we need progress in not just L.G.B.T.Q.I.A. issues but the systematic oppression of anyone based on gender identification, race; background or class.
I see a lot of imbalance in music. Are we near to a sense of equality do you think?!
We’ve made huge strides. I won’t undermine the work that’s been done but we’re nowhere near where we need to be. We still have a long way to go and an even longer way for womxn of color in the industry.
Do you recall the artists you grew up listening to? Which musicians inspired you to write your own stuff?
I grew up with Classic Rock- The Who, The Velvet Underground; Bruce Springsteen, the like. I think, more than anything, these artists inspired my stage presence. I remember my dad showing me a lot of videos from Woodstock and other rock concerts and thinking they were so cool. So, if you see my live show, you’ll see I just go crazy and rock-out.
Regina Spektor has inspired me immensely as a songwriter- as have The 1975, The Wombats and Lorde. My music is a product of everything I listen to.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
I would love to tour more. I get so high off of live shows. The energy loop is insane.
PHOTO CREDIT: @artist_deglamour
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Yeah. I love thinking about funny stories that happened before my more major successes. So, I played this one dive bar where we couldn’t all fit on the stage and we were trying to decide if I should be in the audience rocking out or on the stage. Haha!
Also, at the time, my guitarist and I didn’t know each other super-well and he likes to drink so we said, before the show, that we wanted to get drunk together. Upon arriving to the bar, we realized they didn’t sell hard liquor so a friend of ours ran across the street to CVS and picked up two bottles of Jack Daniels and I put them in my backpack. I poured one of them into a water bottle and we were all passing it around. Then, I got really drunk and took the other bottle out and just handed it to my guitarist without pouring it into the water bottle; at which point the bartender came over and started yelling at him and we got kicked out.
We were just hysterically laughing. It was amazing and we reference it all the time (laughs).
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
Far - Regina Spektor
I learned songwriting from Regina Spektor. She taught me that songs and lyrics can be messy and weird. She taught me to write authentically and not question my quirks -and put them in the forefront always. She is a storyteller in the highest sense. She must have been channeling some higher power during this making of this album.
The 1975 - The 1975
This was the first album I fell madly in love with on my own. It wasn’t my parent’s at all: it was totally mine. I feel bound and connected to The 1975 in a very weird way - their lyrics and melodies are ingrained deep inside me. I feel like they brought back a piece of Rock ‘n’ Roll angst for my generation. Even the track listings - M.O.N.E.Y., Chocolate; Sex, Girls and so on - for me, it’s modern day sex, drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll. This album is a treasure. Also…the guitars. Don’t get me started on the guitar parts.
Melodrama - Lorde
This album dives deep to this place that no one wants to go. Into the icky-ness, into the despair. Lorde is a lyrical goddess. I feel spiritual when I listen to it and when I saw her play it live. This is the type of album that makes me remember why I make music.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I would support The 1975 and I would want sushi, fruit; chocolate and T.V.s with The Office on at all times.
Can we see you on tour soon? Might you come to the U.K. at some stage?
I’m doing a tour along the West Coast. I would love to come to the U.K. If you know anyone looking to fill a spot at a show, send ‘em my way!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
Meet everyone. You never know who that lonely looking person in the corner is; you never know their story. The more people you know and the more you give your knowledge and resources to them selflessly, the more likely they are to help you out and impart potentially invaluable advice on you. The music industry is a very communal effort and people who lift each other up eventually get lifted themselves.
IN THIS PHOTO: Kim Petras
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Music is literally my life. Haha. So, not particularly. I am so personally involved in my music that it sometimes feels like an around-the-clock kind of deal. However, I love to unwind by going to my friends’ shows. Sometimes we do improv together or stupid stuff like The Office trivia or tie dyeing. I also love to read. It’s really nice time alone and a very personal experience that refuels me.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
William – Moontower