HER debut single, Shore, is out today…
so I have been talking with Holly Abraham about it and whether she has more material in the pipeline. The Bristol-based songwriter tells me about her musical upbringing and what sort of sounds have inspired her – I ask whether there will be any tour dates.
Abraham discusses her favourite memory from her career so far and what music means to her; whether she has any advice for songwriters coming through; which rising musicians we need to check out – she ends the interview with a great song choice.
Hi, Holly. How are you? How has your week been?
Hey, Sam. It’s been great, thanks! I’ve been doing loads of prep for my single (to come out) and it’s finally been released so I am on a crazy buzz right now! Apparently, dreams really do come true!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
I’m a chocoholic from Wales who creates mellow Indie/Folk music! I’m a singer-songwriter who has been in love with the guitar for about twenty years and I’ve just recently moved to the wonderful, vibrant city of Bristol to start pursuing my music seriously.
Shore is your debut single. Can you reveal the origins behind it?
Shore is the first real and authentic song that I wrote. It was created a few years ago during a darker period of my life and originally it wasn’t even meant to be heard by any ears apart from my own! It’s an honest expression of the sinking feeling I was experiencing at the time, whilst still holding onto the hope that things wouldn’t stay this way forever. Shore is a pretty vulnerable track, so it’s fitting that it’s my debut single as that’s exactly how I want to introduce my music to the world – raw and honest with no pretence.
Will there be more material coming? What are you working on at the moment?
Absolutely! Shore is just the beginning of many plans we have coming over the next year! I’m hoping to drop another single around February, which will then make way for my debut E.P. to be released soon after. I’ve learned very quickly you have to be ten steps ahead at all times in the music industry! You can be sitting on tracks for months or even years before they are available for the world to hear!
Do you recall when you got into music? Which artists did you grow up around?
I was fortunate enough to grow up in a pretty musical household, so it’s been a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad was a singer-songwriter and my absolute hero. He started teaching me how to play guitar when I was five-years-old and I was convinced when I was younger we were going to be a famous daughter-dad duo! Honestly, I have no idea what music was popular in the ’90s because I was being brought up on The Beatles and James Taylor!
As a teenager, I loved Newton Faulkner and Jack Johnson so they largely inspired my love for acoustic guitar. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve fallen madly in love with atmospheric Indie things and still enjoy a little bit of Rock.
Is music the best way you express yourself? How important is it to you?
I’m pretty sure music runs through my veins - I absolutely live and breathe it! When I’m not writing, performing or recording; I’m making playlists, going to see live music or sharing new artists with friends. I can’t even do the washing-up without having some tunes on! I’m quite an external person so songwriting definitely helps me process. I love the way music can provoke, inspire; entertain and move people: it’s such a privilege to have an opportunity to bring that to the world!
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
A lot of work this year has gone into producing and releasing Shore as well as getting my artist profile off the ground so I’m looking forward to seeing the response from that in the next few weeks or so. It’s already being featured in an autumn playlist so it will be awesome if it gets a bit of love from some other places too! I’m focusing a lot on live performance at the moment and we’re also starting work on the next single and E.P. for 2019. Busy, busy, busy!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
During my time in Australia this year, I lived in a little place called Toowoomba in Queensland and I took part in the Toowoomba Busking Festival which was really fun! I formed a little collective called Going Zucchini with two friends from the U.S. and Germany and we got to spend the day playing sets in different locations around the city (shout-out to Luke and Luca!).
The atmosphere was absolutely magical - it was really sunny and there were so many people relaxing and enjoying themselves! It felt like the whole city had come out just for that day; all united together by the love of music. We had such a good time, so it was just an added bonus when we received a People’s Choice Award!
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
1 - The Beatles
When I was growing up, I had this huge yellow book of the music of ALL the Beatles’ songs and so most of my first songs ever learned on guitar were featured on this album. The Beatles still bring back so many memories of hanging out with my dad and sneaking out of bed to watch music documentaries with him until 2 A.M.!
Sunny Side Up - Paolo Nutini
I think this is one of the first C.D.s I ever owned! It kept me company all through high-school and Paolo and I sang many a duet whilst I tidied my room during the early-2000s! Last Request was one of the first terrible YouTube covers I ever did and a meaningful song I shared with my first boyfriend. Who doesn’t still get cheered up by a bit of New Shoes?!
Dome - Firewoodisland
This E.P. came out in a time in a time of my life where a lot of things were changing for the better and it was then that I first realised I could actually pursue my dream of making music. I was around for a lot of the production of the E.P. and that’s where my eyes were first really opened to how the music industry works - it was so exciting to see all the things that happen behind the scenes that most people don’t even know about! The title-track, Dome, is extremely moving and will always be really special to me.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Supporting Of Monsters and Men would be an absolute dream! I met them after a gig in Bristol on their world tour around two years ago and they were so lovely even though they were exhausted!
The rider would definitely involve some hot chocolate, some excellent pizza from Bosco on Whiteladies Road and a mandatory deep conversation about our experiences and inspirations!
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
I’m playing a lot of local gigs at the moment - mainly Bristol, Cardiff and Bath. Supporting some great artists soon and I’m hoping to do a U.K. release tour when my E.P. comes out next year, so stay tuned!
How important is it being on stage and performing? Is it the place you feel most comfortable?
I really love performing and have done live stuff in the past; just never my own songs until now. It’s been a funny transition this year going from writing and practicing to the wall in my bedroom; to actually playing what I’ve written on stages in front of people!
I get the most out of music when I see it’s moving other people in some way and I think live performance achieves that in a more tangible way than recorded music does in some respects. I still equally love spending time in the studio and in production though - making my songs come to life behind the scenes is really exciting too!
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
1. Be prepared to put in A LOT of hard groundwork in the beginning for little reward. Every successful musician once did those toilet gigs!
2. Don’t allow how many ‘likes’ you have on Facebook or plays on Spotify determine your worth as a person or as an artist - focus on why you started making music in the first place and the rest of the world will catch up later.
3. Be ridiculously lovely to everyone you meet and remember to have some flipping fun along the way!
IN THIS PHOTO: Novo Amor/PHOTO CREDIT: Daniel Alexander Harris
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Novo Amor is one of my biggest inspirations; Ali Lacey and Ed Tullett provide a little bit of ear-heaven for me on almost a daily basis. If you haven’t heard of Novo Amor please go and fall in love with him too so we can sway our phone lights back and forth together and hug each other at the next gig!
IN THIS PHOTO: Ed Tullett
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Music is one of the biggest joys in my life, so I never want to fully get away from it; even in my downtime, I’m usually getting inspiration or hanging out with other creative/musical friends! I’ve just started customising my polka dot Fender Strat which is an exciting project I’ve never done before! Otherwise, if friends are busy then being snuggled up in bed with a mellow playlist, candles and Pinterest is always a dreamy alternative!
I’ve also really got into cacti and home décor recently, so an embarrassing amount of time is usually spent dreaming about my imaginary, unrealistic future home. There will be plants…
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).
I mentioned Dome by Firewoodisland earlier and I’d like to play another one of their beautiful songs called Knot. I listened to it on repeat during the hard times in Cambodia this year and it’s never let me down since! Gorgeous stuff!
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