- SALUTE: Before we talk about the SALUTE songs and your EP, what’s your background Hollie, where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cornwall, but I live in London now. I was quite late to the party in terms of music. My family is not very musical but my mum had records, was into to gigs and festivals which she would sometimes take me to. I was quite exposed to live music growing up and music from REM and Blonde as a kid, which I still love now. They have been an influence although my music is not at all similar to theirs. I started to learn guitar when I was 16 and I started writing songs around the same time. I left Cornwall shortly after to go to uni in Exeter, and released my first album a few years into that, I think I was 19 at the time.
- SALUTE: What was the music scene like in Cornwall?
There were rarely any big artists coming to Cornwall back then, so I think a lot of people started making music with each other as teenagers because there wasn’t a lot else to do! There remains a very vibrant music scene with lots of young talent. People help each other and support each other which is great. Also, BBC Introducing in Cornwall have been a huge support right from the beginning. A lot of musicians do eventually branch out and move to other parts of the country but most will come back and play festivals and events in Cornwall. It’s been a really nice community to be a part of.
- SALUTE: Do you remember the first song you wrote?
Yes definitely. It’s embarrassing and nobody will ever hear it! I did write a few songs before I went to uni, when I was 16, and recorded some demos back then so I had a little experience of being in a studio before I made my first full album. I recorded the album in a new studio in Cornwall who at the time were offering great deals on studio time in order to get their studio off the ground. We were able to go to the studio whenever it was convenient and make an album without any financial or time pressure. That’s not really an option for most people so I felt very lucky to be able to do that at the time.
- SALUTE: What was it like at uni musically?
I was gigging more and collaborating with other musicians more as a duo or trio. I then went off to live in York where I trained as a teacher. Doing that kind of job puts a lot of pressure on your music. I actually had a few years out of writing and gigging. But I was pulled every year that went by to return to music… I did full-time teaching for 5 years and then decided recently to go full-time into music. Since then I’ve been able to dedicate a full year to writing, recording, and releasing a new record. My double bassist and I have been gigging relentlessly and it’s been really good fun so far!
- SALUTE: How did the internet help you discover new influences?
It was massive and it helped me network with people. It made me aware of just how much talent is out there. The stuff that we hear on the radio and on TV is just a tiny percentage of what is actually available and there are so many people making varied, diverse, and outstanding music. The internet has been instrumental in me discovering that. It’s also been great to see people use it for exposure but at the same time it can be difficult to stand out now with so many people promoting their music online; it’s overly saturated.
- SALUTE: What gear do you use for production? The studio in SINNER, is that a regular spot for you?
When I was making my first album 10 years ago, home studio technology just wasn’t so readily available as it is now. Only a few people had smartphones. Making recordings and videos was a big deal. I didn’t have any equipment at the time. I do a lot of recording of videos for social media at home now – but I still use studios for anything I want to release on iTunes or Spotify.
There are a few studios in Cornwall that I have links with, and some of the instrumentation on the latest EP was recorded in Cornwall, but most of was recorded and produced in Hastings. A manager friend put me in touch with producer, James McMillan, who has been nominated for 4 Grammys for work he’s produced with female vocalists. I love his work, and we really clicked and got along which I think is essential for a recording process, when you’re spending a week working together intensely. James has been an integral part of the process for the Body To Ground EP.
- SALUTE: Do you compose much of the sections for the string instruments?
I work now with a double bass player, Tom Holder; he’s an outstanding player. I usually take a song to him to add some bass to it, we work together then on how that comes together on the song. All of the strings played on the EP are by Tom.
- SALUTE: How’s it been since your Body to Ground EP came out?
It’s great to have something that represents where I am at now musically that brings together the live sound that Tom and I have. I’ve sold a lot of physical copies in Sussex. I want to focus now on some of the streaming platforms, which weren’t such an important thing when I was playing full time 10 years ago. Now it’s become so key and it’s important that I refocus on that. People’s responses to the music has been great and the record has already opened up a lot of doors for us.
There was a battle of the bands in Sussex that we won right after I quit my teaching job so that was a great way to kick-start my comeback. It was really helpful for launching the EP and getting lots of exposure with gigs coming off the back of it.
- SALUTE: What do you think of the SALUTE initiative?
It’s great! It really stood out for me, it’s different from other competitions out there. It’s engaging people to come together, to share their music with new audiences rather than it just being judged and then that’s it. Being free to enter and having a cash prize is very unusual.
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