Isle of Wight based singer / songwriter Holly Kirby's repertoire includes an impressive selection of original songs and covers. Many have a strong traditional folky feel but her influences are fairly diverse. Her original songs reveal that she is highly talented as a lyricist, a writer of subtle melodies and as a player of a wide range of instruments. She has released a number of singles, and an album entitled 'A Woman You Don't Know'. Holly has played many venues on the IoW, and performed at the 'Bestival'. she has also been involved in a live collaboration with Amy MacDonald.
Visit Holly's website here.
Nick: Hi Holly.
Holly: Hi Nick :)
Nick: Can you remind me when your album is due for release? Did you enjoy working on it?
Holly: I don't have a set release date yet, but it should be sometime this month. It's currently at the printers. All being well, I should receive the copies in about two weeks, which is when I'll release it.Working on the album was such a fantastic experience. I loved being in the studio. I actually compose all my music at home (in the kitchen!) and produce it on the computer, so when I went to the studio I took all the files with me and they tidied them up, and we decided to add and remove bits whilst I was over there. And of course I got to record my voice and guitar using their professional gear, which was great. I was very lucky to be able to work with some lovely people.
Nick: Would you like to be a full-time musician?
Holly: I'd love to be able to make a living doing what I love. Singing and songwriting is my passion and it would be like a dream to do what I love everyday. - But I imagine being a full-time musician is a bit like being unemployed. :-S I've had a little taste of it this year, and it's so hard to get people to give you a chance. You have to build up a name for yourself.
Nick: Do you think the ‘folk’ label makes it harder at all to draw in a wide audience?
Holly: I've never really labelled myself, so I don't know…I've always said 'celtic/pop/folk' - so it's kind of ambiguous. I think just 'folk' suggests that you only sing 'folk songs' - and I couldn't commit myself to that. I love trying lots of different styles, I think I'd get bored if I plonked myself in just one genre. I do enjoy singing folk songs, but I also enjoy pop, electronic etc….on my websites I've got the little tagline 'A combination of Joni Mitchell and Enya with a quirky twist' to give visitors an idea of my style.
Nick: Do you listen to folk music mainly, or are your tastes more varied?
Holly: My tastes are extremely varied. At my gigs I cover songs by artists such as Sam Sparro, The Rolling Stones, The Cranberries, Amy MacDonald, Blondie, Eurythmics, Dido, Suzanne Vega…and I also love Ultravox, Nena, The Supremes, Loreena McKennitt, The Carpenters, Jeff Buckley, ATB, ELO, Mozart, Verdi, Grieg…I love music that makes you feel something and takes you away from the real world for a time…
Nick: What is it that you like about Joni Mitchell’s music in particular? Is she your major influence?
Holly: I love Joni because she's so unique. She has a certain way of putting things that really gets to me. I think it's a combination of her clever lyrics and complex melodies. And of course her voice is wonderful too. I'm generally influenced more by songs rather than individuals. But there are a few artists whose style I love, so you could say that they are my influences. Joni Mitchell is definitely one. - More on the lyrical side than anything. Joni's first album is dedicated to "Mr. Kratzman, who taught me to love words." - I think my next album should be dedicated to Joni Mitchell, who taught me to love words! Another great influence is Enya. I've been in love with her music since I was very little.
Nick: What was the video competition that you won? Which of your videos was the winner?
Holly: There was a competition on Amy Macdonald's website to win a chance to perform with Amy on stage. You had to upload a video of yourself singing her song 'Poison Prince' to her website and she chose her favourite one - and she picked mine! I was so happy. :) I uploaded the video and then forgot about it, thinking that I didn't stand a chance, but then I got a phone call saying that Amy had chosen my video as the winner! Which was really really cool.
Nick: What was it like appearing with Amy MacDonald? Did you actually perform with her?
Holly: It was so exciting! Yes, I went on and performed the song with her. She played and sang the first verse and chorus, and then I played and sang the next verse and chorus and then we both played and sang together. It was a brilliant experience and one that I'll never forget. :) Here's a link to the video…
Nick: Is there a good music ‘scene’ on the Isle of Wight?
Holly: Yes! I think so - there are lots of up and coming bands, and lots of highly respected older music people. Then of course we've got the Isle of Wight Festival, Bestival, and the Summer Concert at Osborne House. There's always something musical going on.
Nick: Are there other local musicians that have impressed you at all?
Holly: Certainly, I love watching experienced performers and there are very talented ones on the Island. When I played at the Isle of Wight Festival last year I met some great local performers. It's always interesting watching people perform their original songs. Sometimes it feels like you've looked into their mind before you've had a chance to say 'hello'! :)
Nick: Your gig list looks impressive, how are your live appearances going? Do you perform solo, or with other musicians?
Holly: I mainly perform on my own, but I've done a couple of gigs as part of an acoustic duo which was fun. But all my gigs from now on are solo gigs. - I'm really enjoying them and learning something new every time!
Nick: You play an impressive array of instruments...what led you to the Appalachian dulcimer?
Holly: Joni did. :) I perform 'Carey' at gigs, which seems to go down well. I have to learn some more songs on it though...
Nick: Tea Leaves and Old Magazines is a beautiful song...was there any particular inspiration for it?
Holly: Thankyou very much. :) - I think it's just a little microcosm of everything that was going on in my life at the time. I wrote it on a 'miserable' day in February, and I suddenly thought - "why am I saying it's a 'miserable' day - OK, so it's not as bright as it could be, but they're the same trees outside that looked beautiful in the sun, so why should I stick my own negative label on them when it's me with the problem?" At school we were learning about War Literature, so that's where the inspiration for verse two came from. As a whole, the song is about always searching, but never finding. In life we look for answers that we know we'll never find.
Nick: Do you have songs that you particularly enjoy performing?
Holly: I love performing my originals because I can put the most expression into them. - I understand them fully because they came from inside me. A cover song is just my interpretation of the song put forward in my own way…it can never be as complete as an original.
Nick: Your latest videos are very impressive; did you have professional help with them?
Holly: Haha, thankyou. :) No I didn't have help. I do all my videos myself. - Film them, edit them etc. I'm too precise about what I want to do to get someone else to do it.
Nick: Would you recommend a musical gap year to others juggling with the music / university dilemma?
Holly: Hmmm…that's a tricky one. I think I'd say yes to that. When I was applying for Uni I applied for deferred entry, so I knew I had my place guaranteed for 2010. When school ended I didn't feel ready for Uni - like I'd guessed, so I took a 'break' to focus on my music. In this year I've been doing gigs, running a school choir, and produced my own CD…as well as learning how to drive and taking up acting again. It's been a great year for being independent and gaining more experience of the big wide world, and now I do feel a lot more ready for University.
Nick: What was the TV show that you performed on, or is that a well-guarded secret?
Holly: :) Haha! Nooo…it's not a secret. - I was on Stars In Their Eyes Kids when I was 15. - I performed as Enya, which was a wonderful experience. I adore Enya as much as I do Joni, so it was a great privilege. I actually received a little present from Enya herself to say well done! That was incredible!
Nick: Are you looking forward to appearing at the Bestival?
Holly: YES! Definitely. :) The fancy dress theme this year is 'Fantasy' so I'm trying to think of my costume. I've never been before, but I'm really really looking forward to it. Apparently there's always a great atmosphere.
Nick: Thanks very much Holly.
Holly: You're welcome.
Four of my favourites from Holly's YouTube channel:
Everybody Hurts - (REM)
Who Knows Where the Time Goes - Sandy Denny
Hearts & Roses - an original song by Holly Kirby
Mrs Moonlight - an original song by Holly Kirby
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