INTERVIEW// Holly Hebe On: Musical Journeys, Creative Sampling and The Future.

WORDS BY Isabella Ross

Holly Hebe is an emerging solo act from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula. She combines unconventional piano lessons, kazoo melodies, samples of the world around her and a groovy voice to create an absolutely beautiful sound. Holly currently has two released singles and a growing body of unreleased tracks. I had the pleasure of sitting down with Holly to chat about her journey to releasing music, experiences as a self taught producer and what the future may hold. 

I: I have heard that you produce all of your own music, can you share what that looks like? 

H: Producing and writing has always been a big trial and error. I had been producing for myself and was kind of happy with that sound but sharing that with other people is so different. I have produced a little bit for other people here and there, more these days collaborating and learning from others which is so good. I am super self taught and I really don’t know what I am doing, watching other people and how they do it has been really good. I think producing is a really cool path to go down because there’s not many female producers out there and it’s so much fun. You get to meet so many cool artists, I think it can also be nice to be in the background as well.

I: Is there anyone that you would like to work with, or that you might already be working with?

H: I feel like Top Tier would be Matt Corby, Maggie Rogers or Claireo. That’s like you know dream board stuff. At the moment I am working with these two guys called Yuto who are also from Melbourne. They are lovely and have done so well on Spotify the last couple of years. Working with them has been the best process because I have gotten to know them so well and also their style of producing. Honestly I would be happy to work with anyone. I love the collaborative process so much. 

I: From that I would love to know where your creative process starts and how it evolves?

H: In terms of songwriting I am reading poetry a lot, I am always doing something creative. I find it hard to sit and do nothing, even if I am watching a netflix show I have to be drawing or doing a crossword at the same time. I feel like it starts with me sitting down reading or finding words that inspire me and that will trigger a song to come out. I love being able to sift through words and something will stand out to me. I write anywhere, sometimes in the car I will think of something and have to pull over and have to record it on my voice memos. It’s honestly so erratic the way ideas come it can be in the middle of the night. I think it’s kinda cheesy but my upbringing, I have moved around heaps and always had new environments to inspire me, new people, new places and new experiences. I think that helps with storytelling, the process comes from the way I process all these different influences. 

I: How do you think being stuck at home after moving so often compressed all those feelings and pushed you to release music?

H: I think compressed is a really good way to put it. I was at home sitting on a lot of songs, and a heap of ideas I needed to do something with. It was probably some of the most creative months I have ever experienced. I was in my feelings and felt that was all I had to do for that time which really brought out a heap of songs. The whole way of the world was so weird and such a unique experience. I think that fed the lack of meeting new people because it was such a new experience. Obviously the whole time I wasn’t feeling super inspired but I definitely think there was a good period of time where I was. 

I: Diving deeper into your creative process you use a lot of the world around you for percussion samples. How did this start?

H: I had just started out producing when I made Sink, and I didn’t know much about the world of sampling and where most producers get their samples from. I assumed everyone made their own. I listen to a heap of James Blake, his way of sampling drums is awesome, I wanted to find my own way of recreating that. I didn’t have a new mic at the time but I always had my phone with me and was just recording the sounds around me. I think this gave a more complex meaning to the song because they were all the sounds I had collected along the way of writing the songs. I experimented chopping them up to make drums which was really fun. That was a really cool experience as I was starting to find my sound through samples of my everyday experiences or objects I had found along the way. 

The kazoo is so funny because it was just a joke at the start and now it’s slowly becoming my brand. I don’t know how I feel about it but it’s kinda funny so I will ride the wave, I honestly don’t take it too seriously. . I feel like these fun things can make your music different or catch people’s ears in a fun way. 

I: How do you think your upbringing has influenced your musical career?

H: I lived most of my childhood in NSW in a little country town on the south coast. We moved around a lot there, it’s funny to think about all the different houses and the different stages of my life in each space. Having connections with so many different places has influenced my song writing and storytelling which is awesome to retrace through my songs. Moving to the peninsula has been so good, it’s a different vibe to where I was but also similar in some ways. Being close to the beach and the musicians I have been able to meet here are amazing, I am insanely grateful for all the people I have met. The peninsula has such a strong music scene it’s crazy and has been so inspiring.

I: How did you find your people in this space, and actually connect with the scene?

H: I never thought I would ever move schools in my life and then all of a sudden I am doing the massive move. At the start my piano was my comfort, I would get to school really early in the morning and play the piano in the school chapel to calm my nerves. It has really only been in the last year that I have finally put myself out there to meet more Mornington Peninsula musos. Once you are out of school you are so much more free I was definitely ready to get out there and stop being held back. Since releasing I have connected with so many amazing songwriters. I reached a point at the end of last year sick of being locked down, I sent a message to a few people asking if they wanted to help get a few musicians together to jam which was the best thing I have ever done. Once you are in a group of people who are similar to you it explodes and no one cares about what comes out at the end of the day. You know you have met really good musos when you can do that and no one cares about being perfect or the sound that comes out. That was such a good evolution from jamming on my own which I have done for my whole life, to all of a sudden feeling so supported by this group of people. 

I: Here at Temporary Dreamer we have a signature question, if We Are Fine were a colour what would it be and why?

H: I think either blue or purple because the song is about a relationship where one person needs to see the signs that are not quite adding up, maybe someone is wanting to hide certain things and say everything is fine. I think purple is a bit bruised but can also be a bright colour there are good moments. Purple can be strong and nice at the same time so I think it is a good colour. 

I: Through lockdown we have all had lots of time to listen to new music, are there any artists you want to share that you feel might be under appreciated?

H: My favourite band at the moment is The Backseat Lovers, I thought they were really huge when I started listening to their music and they are obviously big but I feel like they could do even bigger things. I also have a mate from uni who has a band called Private Mountain, they have two songs out at the moment and I love them so much. I really appreciate when I listen to people’s music made with good quality recordings and mixes probably because I produce my own stuff. I am getting more into the band sound these days which I am even bringing into my own writing. 

I: Can I put you on the spot for a second to make a 3-5 track playlist to soundtrack a late night swim?

H: Absolutely! I am definitely that type of person that makes spotify playlists for different moods. I love Shampoo Bottles by Peach Pit, its so chill and also has a little bit of grunge to it which is the perfect vibe for a night swim. I actually went for a night swim last night and had some of these songs playing! Ooh I really like Holly Humberstone at the moment she is from the UK, Overkill or Falling Asleep at The Wheel they are well produced and sound so nice. Let It All Out by COIN, great track their music is awesome. Then Bruno Major of course, Nothing it’s a bit more chill. 

I: You have spoken about a few new songs and projects in the works, what can we expect from you for the rest of 2021?

H: I am definitely keen to start releasing a couple more songs. I have got a couple I am sitting on at the moment figuring out how I will go about that release. I think I will end up putting together an EP for the end of the year which I am really excited about. I have had all these weird influences over the past couple of months and I am excited to put them together and sort out a nice narrative to an EP. I have a couple of shows coming up; Workers Club and Night Cat in March and then hopefully play a couple more gigs. When borders open I plan on doing a trip up the coast and playing at all kinds of venues, just riding this super fun wave. I think that will bring a lot more inspiring experiences to write songs about so I guess that’s the plan. It’s almost a blessing in disguise coming out of lockdown and starting a solo project being able to book gigs because people are so keen to listen to live music. 

We are keener than ever to chase live music and fill our bodies with that other worldly buzz. If you are in Melbourne Holly has two shows coming up next month with a few tickets left. Everyone else can keep their eyes peeled for shows popping up along the East Coast and in the meantime stream her music below. 

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3K511ClkYJM2a9tcaf2R3t?si=ZgWNvo6FQ6usLfKHPwvIsA

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