England’s own Holly Humberstone is the quintessential modern 21-year-old. Decorated like your dream 2000s indie it girl, the star seems to have one foot in the real world and another in a romanticised adolescent fantasy she’s created. She’s emotional but reserved, is most comfortable online, and she’s built her entire music career through a worldwide pandemic. With a loyal fanbase that only seems to be growing (she currently has over 2 million monthly listeners on Spotify) and a knack for turning angst into art, Holly is on a fast trajectory to become one of Gen Z’s biggest stars.
To celebrate the recent release of her sophomore EP The Walls Are Way Too Thin, we chatted to the rising star to find out her music making process, who she’d love to collab with, and everything we need to know about her latest project.
How has it been navigating fame and success in such an untraditional way due to the pandemic and lockdowns?
It has been a bit surreal releasing my first music throughout the pandemic, and I’ve struggled to really believe that things are happening. But since coming out of lockdown and being able to play shows, I feel really lucky that I’ve been able to have a career throughout the pandemic. It’s really heart-warming now that I’m able to sell out shows and meet the people that I’ve been connecting with through the music for the past year and a half.
I understand ‘Please Don’t Leave Yet’ was your first collaboration project, how was it working with someone like Matty Healy from The 1975?
It was so cool working with Matty. I grew up loving The 1975 and he has really influenced my writing for a long time. I find writing with new people really difficult because it’s such a personal thing, but I think Matty understood how tough it can be to pour your heart out to someone you’ve never worked with before in a session, and he just created a really lovely environment that I felt comfortable to say whatever I wanted in. Hopefully we’ll get to work together more!
If you could write a song for any artist, who would it be?
Writing for other artists is something that I’d really like to do a lot more of. It is emotionally draining writing about my own feelings and problems the whole time, so it’s way less pressure writing for others. I love straight down the line pop music, it would be so cool to be able to write for someone like Selena Gomez or Dua Lipa or someone like that! I love that type of music so much.
I have to know, how did you keep your cool and not fall off that moving truck in the ‘Scarlett’ music video?
Honestly I’ve realised I love putting myself in terrifying situations for my music videos. I feel like I give a better performance because I’m actually scared for my life! I managed to survive it though and it was a really nice day! Scarlett is actually in the video and it was so fun to have her on set.
Speaking of ‘Scarlett’, what do you hope fans get out of that track?
I hope my fans can feel empowered and uplifted by the song. The rest of the EP is pretty depressing lyrically and ‘Scarlett’ is the only song that breaks away from that. I think the production really matches the sentiment of the lyrics and I just hope it makes people feel good and want to dance!
How would you best describe your sound and the vision you’re trying to create?
I’m honestly just trying to be as real as possible. Regarding my sound, I’m not sure how best I’d describe it as it seems to be constantly changing as I go through changes in my life. I try not to think about it too much and just make the type of music I love at the time. I put so much of myself into the songs so I want my visuals to reflect me and whatever comes to my mind when I was writing the song.
What typically comes to you first, the beat or the lyrics?
Each song comes about in a different way, and for me there’s not really a method I stick to when writing. A lot of the time though, lyrics come first and are the most important part of the song. I constantly write down little lyric ideas on my phone when I’m out and about, and then I come to the studio and try to make a song out of something. I always find that I have to wait for the inspiration to come to me though, I really cannot force writing or creativity.
‘Overkill’ is personally one of my favourite songs from the last year or so. I love how the sound kind of reflects that excited feeling of a new love, was that intentional?
I’m so glad you like that song! It’s also one of my favourite songs from the first EP just because it was written about a really positive thing I was going through at the time. My songs are like diary entries and I try to be as unfiltered as possible. I was falling for someone when I wrote this song, and I feel like it reflects all of the confusion and excitement of having these feelings for the first time. Listening to it now transports me straight back to how I felt when I wrote it.
What can you tell us about your EP The Walls Are Way Too Thin?
I moved down to London a little while ago and everything felt like it was changing at once. The songs on this EP were like diary entries for me during that weird confusing time, and going into the studio and writing them was my only way of processing and making sense of everything that was going on around me. I really hope the songs can help someone else who may be looking for some kind of reassurance that change is confusing but necessary, and to just roll with the punches!
What are you most looking forward to in 2022?
I’ve been lucky enough to finally play live a lot this summer and it’s just been so inspiring. I have a very busy 2022 coming up with lots of touring, and I’m really looking forward to bringing the songs to a wider audience and connecting with as many new people as possible. I’m also just really looking forward to going into the studio and writing lots more!
Holly Humberstone’s sophomore EP ‘The Walls Are Way Too Thin’ is available on all streaming platforms now.