HOLLY HENDERSON, the 27-year-old English songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and PMA-nominated producer, is facilitating the release of her second album, “The Walls”.
We have described her voice as a glistering shimmer of willingness & dependability and we suggested her sounds come wrapped in a blanket of sunny heavenliness.
So we were cock-a-hoop when we had a chance to chat with the super- gifted singer-songwriter about working on her long-awaited sophomore L.P. titled The Walls, about musical influences, and making music in a modern world.
RAW RAMP: What was it like working with guitar hero Pete Thorn?
Pete is a wonderful person first and foremost. I feel lucky that the reason we started working together was because we had developed a great friendship through our musical interests, he found my perspective interesting, and he possessed so much knowledge about things I didn’t understand at the time. I’d like to think it was mutually interesting. But also super fun. He works very hard, but knows how to chill out with some sushi after.
It’s funny, we are both sticklers. He emailed my Mum when we were working on my album in LA, (I was 21 at the time) to let her know it was all going well – and he said I was ‘stubborn, in a good way’. A liberty, I assure you. I’ve only grown more sure of my ears with time, but I always love to learn from people who know more, so the stubbornness didn’t get in the way, too much.
RAW RAMP: We thought that ‘Wendy’ from ‘The Walls’ sounded kinda vintage… how do you feel about your sounds being compared (in a complimentary way) to vintage Beach Boys or even Sgt Pepper era Beatles?
Thank you! I’m excited that it comes across. When I sent the demos to Rowan (producer/engineer) we discussed the need to preserve the organic, analog nature of the demos, and the fact that the songs lend to the era of ribbon mics in the middle of the room, two mics on a damp kit, a slightly out of tune piano, and a Neumann that recorded almost everything at some point. We’re both audiophiles for the warmth of classic Pop/Rock albums, so if it reads, it feels great to have succeeded with that.
RAW RAMP: What about more contemporary musical influences?
Definitely PJ Harvey. I was mesmerised, still am to this day, by her ability to create whole literary, artistic, even fashion driven world around a musical idea. Thinking big is what I take from a lot of my influences, for sure. So the same goes for Kate Bush, The Beatles, etc. But with more modern influences, it’s largely about how elegantly people can craft wonderful, even if it’s deceptively simple songs. So, Daniel Rossen, Andy Shauf, Martha Wainwright, Weyes Blood, Sparklehorse, to name a few.
RAW RAMP: Tell us about bringing together all the talents for the album: flutes, synths, keys etc. What was it like to ‘conduct’ a crowd of musicians?
Musicians are definitely a unique species. We’re all vastly different though, what holds our focus, tames egos, breeds constructive, creative environments is so tough. Making music always feels like a very fragile process, the more people are involved. I say that broadly, because when we made the album, I was fortunate enough to do it with people who ultimately had the same ability to listen, focus, and be imaginative, without it slowing or complicating the process. It helps that I had the arrangements very strictly built from the inside, but I gave the space around that, as much room as possible. Feels less restrictive, but still structured.
RAW RAMP: When you tour ‘The Walls’ will you be delivering it alone, on a stool, with a guitar, or will it be a full-band affair?
Both! I wrote everything first of all with just my voice and a guitar. So the songs hold their own in that form, I suppose. It’s definitely more rewarding as a musician when it can become a kind of banquet situation where the fun is in picking and choosing how to reimagine things. There is a studio version now, that I hope people will really love. But It’s never been my intention to stick them down and make them immovable, it’s just not fun, mostly. I plan on playing the songs and pulling them around and experimenting with different people, instruments, voices, as possible, until it gets boring and needs to be left in a cool dark place for a bit.
RAW RAMP: Is Maidstone, Kent, still a good place to be based? Ever been tempted to go to Nashville?
I went to Nashville, funnily enough. As well as LA. It’s weird. I could go on for a long time about how the modern world is stifling things and having negative effects on art, however, the biggest thing I’m grateful for, is the fact that I can live in Maidstone, (where, as much as we have a highly creative community, doesn’t have the infrastructure yet to support that on any grander scale) and still create whatever music, with whoever I wish. I could make an album with a drummer in the Himalayas, an organist from Japan, a flautist from Uganda, and a triangle player from Florida. If I really wanted to. Anyone could. It’s exciting that because of technology, we are no longer limited to cities, or forced to move thousands of miles from our families, in order to pursue a creative life. So I’d love to dip into Nashville, London, etc. As long as I can always come home to somewhere quieter and simpler.
Wishing you lots of success with ‘The Walls’!!!
Holly Henderson was talking with Neil Mach of RAW RAMP 2023