The music industry is ever-changing, but it has changed a lot in the past year. The industry has a large, supportive community that suddenly was unable to be physically together due to the pandemic. Many musicians struggled to find a source of inspiration in a time of such isolation and change. As time went on, we started figuring out our ‘new normal.’
Even through these times of trial and isolation, singer/songwriter, poet and engaged activist, Hollis, was able to draw inspiration for her debut solo album, Subliminal.
Though it wasn’t easy, Hollis made sure this album, made with collaborators and friends from all around the world, was something she could be proud of, something that had lots of intention behind it.
Hollis is a collaborator. She loves engaging with other musicians and artists and that wasn’t as easy to do because of the pandemic. She really started investing time in herself. She had to be alone and really took the time to analyze how she was feeling about everything that was going on around her. As much as Hollis loves L.A. and living in a city, she knew she needed a change of scenery.
In hopes of provoking new ways of thinking, Hollis headed to Joshua Tree. She decided “if I’m not getting fed by the energy of other people, I need to be fed by cultivating energy within myself.” Her perspective shifted and she became motivated and inspired to write intentional music that would resonate with her listeners. This album was completely written during the pandemic, which to us, is extremely inspiring.
Since her early days, Hollis has continuously drawn inspiration from a multitude of literary pieces and philosophy. Her single “Grace Lee” was written on that same basis. Grace Lee Boggs was a philosopher who grew up in her dad’s Chinese restaurant in Times Square. This resonates deeply with Hollis because she herself grew up in her mom’s Chinese restaurant.
A Grace Lee Boggs quote that sparked insight for Hollis was “The time has come for us to reimagine everything.” Being in the middle of the pandemic, Hollis came to the conclusion that we need to reimagine the ways that we live and relate to each other. COVID-19 shined a light on the fact that we need to care more about each other and make choices that are for the collective good. Keeping the intention of urgency in social change has always been the foundation for her inspiration. She is hopeful that her single “Grace Lee” amplifies a historical figure who should be better known by today’s society.
Hollis has always been inspired by women who are powerful singer songwriters, from Joni Mitchell to Fiona Apple and Lauren Hill. Growing up in Seattle she was constantly surrounded by artists singing and writing about social change. Her big break into the music community was Canary Sing, a duo made up of herself and Madeleine Clifford. This was an educational and humbling experience and as time went on, the groups and artists she admired in the Seattle music scene quickly became people she considered her friends and fellow collaborators. She believes that “White Walls” by Macklemore, Ryan Lewis, ScHoolboy Q, and herself was her break into the industry as a whole. Though she is excited about where the future will bring her, she will always be thankful for her past and stay true to her roots.
Connecting with her fans has always been of utmost importance to Hollis. She recalled one of her favorite shows she performed when she was playing in The Flavr Blue. It had been a show on an outdoor patio in Tijuana. They didn’t know what to expect, but much to their surprise the patio became filled with people and the energy radiated throughout the venue.
As live shows come back to life Hollis wants to ensure that her shows will be a place for healing. She says “We all went through something really intense and we’re all different people for it.” Before the pandemic hit, Hollis was set to tour. Her tour, Hollis Does Brunch, was a cultivated experience that was designed with much intention behind it. After shows were cancelled she did an online version of Hollis Does Brunch which raised close to $30,000 for COVID mutual aid. Live shows have always been one of her favorite parts of being a musician and she is so excited that live events are starting up again.
Some advice she has for budding singer/songwriters is to be as self-contained as an artist as possible. Cultivate your independence. It took Hollis until this year to set up her own recording rig and she wished she had done it much sooner. Being able to know the ins and outs of the music industry will help you become a well-rounded and educated musician. Lastly, Hollis urges that success needs to be self-defined. It won’t be brought by anyone but you and your work. You have to work the hardest out of anyone on your team by a longshot.
Today, Hollis released new single “Less Like.” This single was produced by Sweater Beats (Lizzo, Panic! At the Disco) and has an alternative pop feel to it. It’s incredibly catchy and though there is an upbeat feel to the song, the lyrics cut deep and describe how we were all feeling amidst the lockdown during the pandemic. Our favorite lyrics are “All my yesterdays are crumpled on the floor. Can’t find the strength to even fold them up and put them away.” They perfectly capture how so many days felt in lockdown.
The past year has brought challenges to so many. Hollis faced those challenges head on and decided to turn a time of loneliness and uncertainty into inspiration for her debut solo album. We can’t wait to see what her next move is.
Hollis drops Subliminal this fall, so stay in the loop:
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