It’s been a banner year for Holly Humberstone, and it’s only April. With the release of her debut single “Deep End”, which was followed by the release of her current single “Falling Asleep at the Wheel” Humberstone is on her way to stardom. Her vulnerable and honest pop music falls somewhere in-between Lorde and Phoebe Bridgers, giving her a level of versatility and relatability that’s hard to come by in pop music. We had the opportunity to talk to Humberstone and her humble beginnings, the story behind “Falling Asleep at the Wheel,” and opening for Lewis Capaldi at Wembley Arena.
BTS: Can you tell us how you got started with making music?
HOLLY HUMBERSTONE: I grew up in a pretty quirky and artistic household. My parents both have really cool music tastes and my dad is obsessed with poetry so I was encouraged to be creative since I was very small. I took various music lessons like piano throughout school and used to write really crap songs and play them to my parents, and I guess I just never stopped! I’m always finding old notepads around the house with hilarious lyrics that I wrote when I was seven or something.
BTS: How would you describe your music for someone who hasn’t heard it before?
HH: I’d probably describe my music as somewhere on the darker side of honest pop. I like dark personal lyrics with a weird wonky twist within the production. I like to think I’m probably somewhere in between Lorde and Phoebe Bridgers.
BTS: Who are some of your influences, musically and non-musically?
HH: I draw a lot of inspiration from people like Damien Rice as I’d always hear my parents listening to that sort of thing as a child. I love the intimacy of really personal lyrics with tiny details. Outside of music I think my main influences are my family and friends. I have three really creative sisters who all have amazing music tastes and are really enthusiastic about art and literature. When I’m uninspired with my life I draw inspiration from what other people are experiencing.
BTS: What’s your process like in the studio?
HH: On a normal day of writing I’d show up to the studio and we’d sit down and listen to music we’d been listening to. I’d probably try to stock up a few solid ideas before the session on voice memos on my phone, or lyric ideas or concepts on my iPhone notes. Then I’d play a few in the session and see if any of them go anywhere exciting. I always drink about a million cups of tea on a writing day just to fuel the session and always order good food. I try to relax and not to force anything, that’s usually how the best music comes!
BTS: You said your new single “Falling Asleep At The Wheel” is about losing momentum in a relationship – how did song come about?
HH: So I wrote ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ with Rob Milton, who happens to be really sick and lives very close to where I grew up in Nottingham. I live in a very remote area in a very old and slightly falling down house, so we decided to set up a little studio in one of my rooms for a week last summer. The writing and production of ‘Falling Asleep’ was all made during that week, and I think a lot of the quirky production and lyrics were inspired by the weirdness of the setting, and I feel like you can kind of hear the house within the track which is kinda cool. The song is written about a relationship falling apart and kind of wanting to give up on someone, and I had the concept and title written in my notes for a while before we actually wrote it!
BTS: How did writing and recording your new single differ from the process you went through with your debut single “Deep End”?
HH: I wrote ‘Deep End’ in a studio in London. I came into the session wanting to write about something really personal, and both Rob and Ben could in some way relate to what I was going through at the time. It was actually more like a therapy session than a writing session, as I was able to write about something that had been really playing on my mind for a while, and turn something dark into something really beautiful. Writing ‘Falling Asleep’ was a bit different as Rob and I were just having a load of fun and going a bit crazy with the production. It’s somewhere I never expected my music to go but it felt right and was actually the first time I knew the direction I wanted to head in sonically with my music.
BTS: What was it like filming the music video for “Falling Asleep At The Wheel”?
HH: Filming the video for ‘Falling Asleep At The Wheel’ was for the most part, a really good experience. We’d had the idea for a while, and I was excited after how well the ‘Deep End’ video came out. We wanted to keep it within the same world as the video for ‘Deep End’, and so we filmed it very close to my childhood home with a small but amazing team. We ran into a few issues, like generators breaking and just being very very cold, but by about 3am the video was done and I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.
BTS: Your music is very honest and has some darker sonic undertones – why is being open and vulnerable important to you as an artist?
HH: I think I connect the most to personal music with very detailed and honest lyrics. I feel like the more personal the lyrics are, the more people will be able to identify with the song, and feel the same things I felt when writing. I feel like for me being vulnerable within my work is so important because it’s my way of processing situations and making sense of my feelings.
BTS: You had the opportunity to support Lewis Capaldi at Wembley Arena earlier this year – what was that like?
HH: I found out I was playing Wembley the day before performing so I really had no time to process how cool it was beforehand. My manager called me at about 8am and I was horribly hungover and couldn’t really think straight so I just agreed to do it. I’m so so glad I got the chance to because it was amazing to play a show of that size in London! My set is literally just me on stage with a guitar, keys and a loop pedal, so it was pretty terrifying but to be able to say I’ve done that is definitely one of my biggest achievements. The feeling after my set was pretty unbeatable too.
BTS: What’s one fun fact about yourself for our readers?
HH: The first song I ever wrote was with my sister, on GarageBand, on my dad’s laptop when I was about 6 and it was about the Titanic. It was pretty abstract and more of a soundscape. Many tears were shed.
BTS: What can fans expect from you this year?
HH: I’m currently in the process of releasing my debut EP of songs that are very special to me and that I can’t wait for people to hear. I also really hope to tour this year but it’s impossible to plan because of the current COVID situation. In the meantime I’ll be doing lots of writing hopefully for a second EP which I’m also very excited about!
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