Interview with Holly Henderson
What got you into music, and if you had not gotten into music what would you be doing today?
I’ve always had a compulsion for making things, for as long as I can remember. Music happened to be the one I latched onto, and my Mum was always wonderful at letting me just do that. If it wasn’t that, I’ve always been fascinated with art, the body, I probably would have become a reconstructive surgeon - I looked into it genuinely for a while, if I had he time and funds to pursue both I probably would.
What do you like to do when you are not playing music and how does that influence your creativity?
I love cooking, reading, gardening, but I’m getting back into reading in a big way. Particularly authors like Mishima and Patrick Suskind at the moment. They’re both incredibly visual and visceral, so it’s been influencing my writing lately. Basically whatever I’m doing contributes to how I think about what I’m making, I think it’s one of the freedoms and joys of being an artist. Inspiration is everywhere.
How long have you been making music?
As long as I can remember. Mum got me a keyboard when I was 5/6ish. I would learn part of Chopin or Beethoven that were on the ‘demo’ function, and then write the rest - I didn’t realise until much later that doing things like that weren’t entirely common for a kid. I haven’t really changed.
Where are you based and how did that influence your music?
I’m based in Maidstone. I think the part of being working class, council house raised, etc etc, that does influence my music in some ways. I’m aware of how class and limitations have effected how I see and function in the world, in art/music, you can’t run from stuff like that. Although as I get older, I’m more inspired by nature than I ever was.
Tell me about your most memorable shows, if you haven’t played live what is your vision for a live show?
I’ve played largely as a session musician, so I’ve played the Isle of Wight a few times, some other big festivals, etc. That’s memorable in its own way, but because it wasn’t with my own music it always felt a bit empty. If I had the support/funds/fans, I can’t even imagine where I could take a live show. I’d love to incorporate theatre or dance into my shows if I ever got the chance, and definitely a small orchestra or something in the future… That’s a bit of a bucket list thing for me, actually.
What is your favorite venue to play at, and do you have any places you want to play that you have not already?
Lots of venues have their own charm, funnily enough, I really just like the occasional shows I do at The Flower Pot, a pub in Maidstone. It’s always friendly, it’s intimate, and it’s a safe space for me to try new stuff. Which is an essential part of the writing process now.
If you could play any show with any lineup, who would be on the ticket?
I recently saw Daniel Rossen play his solo stuff at the Union Chapel, I think that’s pretty much the dream. Venue and all.
What is some advice that you would give to someone who is just getting into making music and some advice that you would give to your younger self?
I see it a lot, I’ve found myself in the position of offering advice to younger musicians lately, (never thought I’d see the day) - young people tend to see the glory of being in art, music, film, etc. But being enthusiastic about how you look and how famous you’re going to be is a pipe dream. It’s hard work, really hard work. And if you’re not passionate about the craft, and being the best artist YOU can be, as in, authentically, uniquely yourself, then you’re going to be disappointed. It sounds harsh, but I went into music with the view that I will never stop having to learn, and listening, and making making making, now I’ve got some years under my belt, that attitude ended up being what fuelled my survival, successes and joys in the industry so far. And my peers that thought differently, have generally fallen away, and didn’t get the success handed to them on a plate that I think they were expecting. It’s rough. You have to be really tenacious.
Of your songs which one means the most to you and why?
I don’t give too much away, generally. There are songs that have layers of meaning, like Russian dolls - but ones only I can open up until you see the tiny doll at the end. You’d never guess which ones, I don’t think, but I like it that way.
Which songs are your favorite to play and which get requested the most?
Hah, Wendy gets requested. Every time! But I don’t hate that. It’s one of the only songs I have that is pure, it’s just the unashamedly sweet song about a sweet dog, I’ll always enjoy playing it.
What is your creative process, and what inspires you to write your music?
It changes. I’ll be sitting and reading or having a bath at the end of a ridiculous week, and something could pop into my head, so I’ll either sing it into my phone, or get up and tinker away on a guitar until I have something worth developing. I have probably 50 or so of those undeveloped songs on my phone currently, waiting. Then I’ll sit and work on them in my studio until I get something. It’s kind of like being an archaeologist, you’re chipping away at rock, and if you’re patient and don’t go and smash the whole thing up too much, you can discover something rare and unseen. I’m of the philosophy that great songs are more found, than made. We just serve the idea until it reveals itself to us.
Do you have messages that you like to get across in your music? if so please tell me about them.
I’m definitely more of a storyteller than a messenger. I like to leave feelings, experiences, thoughts about life, politics and nature unfinished so that during the process of developing the story it resolves and goes somewhere. I guess, I’m trying to make my songs something that both I and the listener experience an understanding of something together when hearing the finished song.
Do you have any new singles, videos, or albums out that you would like to tell me and your fans about?
My album The Walls is out now! From that, there are two videos, The Planes, and Wendy. Wendy is particularly special, Joey Bullet and Emleigh are a wonderful artistic couple, that created it in stop motion together. So I think people should definitely check that out.
What are your plans for the future, and do you have anything that you want to spotlight that is coming up?
I’m planning on physical releases for the album, plus more gigs! I’ve got a gig at the Camden Club, April 14th, that people shouldn’t miss. I’ll be playing in a great lineup of other cool original artists too, it’s going to be a fun night. https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/live-at-the-camden-club-tickets-465378819577
How can your fans best keep up to date with you, any socials you want people to check out?
Instagram, I’m @hollyhendersonofficial - the official seems a bit premature - I just had to get in there quick, because there’s a really mental, racist ex wag and porn star called Holly Henderson, and I was sick of people looking for my music and finding far bigger breasts than I could ever possibly provide.
Also, Facebook, Youtube (Holly Henderson), I’m very active on all of them really. I’ve also joined Tik Tok recently @hollyhendersonofficial, which was a bit excruciating, but adapt or die, right?