[INTERVIEW] Holly Arrowsmith
We sat down with local singer/songwriter Holly Arrowsmith in the early afternoon of New Years Eve at Rhythm and Alps festival. Among other things we chatted about her inspirations, influences and New Zealand's music scene, Lorde included.
So first of all just tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm from Queenstown which is a beautiful town just over the mountains that way, you guys flew in there probably hey?
No I actually flew in to Dunedin, and we came up through Central Otago, but I've flown in to Queenstown before, it's beautiful!
Yeah it's so nice! So I was actually born in New Mexico in the States, in Santa Fe, and we moved here when I was a child. So I've been living in Queenstown, that's where I was raised, brought up. I started playing guitar when I was 12, apparently I never sung as a child, never walked around the house singing, my parents never saw it coming at all. I continued learning guitar until I was about 15, and then I started singing. Started songwriting when I was 17 and that's when I decided it was what I wanted to do, I really love writing the music, that's my favourite part. And now I'm 20 and I'm doing it full-time and I love it, and I just hope I can keep doing it. I've got a full album that we're recording this summer, and I'm releasing it during New Zealand music month and then I'll do a tour of New Zealand and hopefully Australia as well.
Did you study music?
I didn't, no.
You just decided I'm going to go straight in and do this?
Yeah. I think I just decided that was what I wanted to do, and then I just did it.
That's awesome that you can do it full-time, most people have to do something on the side.
Yeah, I was working for a year as a zip-lining guide, at one of those adventure tourism places in Queenstown. I was kind of doing it for that purpose, I was doing music on the side and saving up money so that I could do it full-time, and I kind of just left my job at the start of this year and just went fully in to it. It was tempting to keep a foot in the other camp and work as well, but I thought I wouldn't commit as hard if I didn't just launch myself in to it.
Yeah if you dedicate all your time to it you're going to get more out of it.
Yeah I just cut all ties and just did it.
So did you spend much time in New Mexico after you were born there?
Just the first four years of my life.
Do you remember much of it?
Not a whole lot, but the spanish culture and their fashion and their food has definitely influenced me and my style.
As well as Queenstown? The different landscapes?
Yeah. I write a lot about nature, it's a huge influence in my writing - you'll hear a lot about the mountains and these places I go to write.
What do you think of New Zealand's music scene? Is it quite easy to get yourself out there?
I am finding it quite nurturing, because it's a small country I think if you're really going for it it's not actually that hard. But I've heard a lot that you can get stuck in this cycle of New Zealand and it's hard to get out. But, we have so many good artists, it's improved and grown so much in the last 10 years. Like, Lorde for example, where did she even come from and now she's huge, she's the biggest in the world. But yeah I don't want to get stuck just playing in New Zealand, I do want to get out, but I feel really blessed to have been able to start out here, I think it's a good place to start.
What are your musical influences, or artists that inspire you?
So where are you recording your album? Are you in the process of recording or not yet started?
We're starting Jan/Feb and we're moving the studio down to a place in Colac Bay (It's right down the bottom of the south island). So we're just going to move all the studio down to there and just go and chill out, there's good surf and stuff so it'll be awesome. It's real peaceful and really quiet. So that'll be fun!
Have you seen or are you looking forward to seeing any particular acts at the festival?
I'm looking forward to The Veils tonight. But honestly, I don't know a lot of drum & bass music so The Veils I'm like yeah, looking forward to them heaps. But, Shapeshifter were awesome last night, they were really good. New Zealand has a massive drum and bass scene though, all our festivals are basically drum and bass, well a lot of them.
So apart from your album, do you have any other plans for 2014?
Yeah I'm playing the New Zealand golf open in March, but yeah it's pretty much just recording, right now I'm just focusing on the album and writing for it, I still have to finish writing. And then we'll just see what happens. I tend to not really plan things and then they just happen.
So it's a bit corny, and you've probably already been asked this, but do you have any New Years resolutions?
Ohhh I haven't been asked this yet. Oh man I'm so bad at deciding things… maybe become more decisive? Haha
I don't know, just keep working at becoming a better human maybe, you can always improve!
You can stream Holly's lovely EP The River below, as well as download it for free on her Bandcamp site. The song "Wolves and Moons" won her the Arrowtown Singstars competition, it's a beautiful folky-blues tune, something that really touches your heart.
I'll be keeping an ear out for her album release in a few months time...