Holly Humberstone has told Music Week that she’s planning to “do things differently” in her artist career, as she heads into 2021 on a wave of expectation.
Humberstone finished in second place on the BBC Sound Of 2021 poll and has been tipped across the business for success this year. We featured the Grantham singer in On The Radar in December, following the continued success of her Falling Asleep At The Wheel EP.
“I find writing is my way of making sense of a lot of things,” said Humberstone, who believes the personal nature of her songs is helping them connect. “A lot of the time, because I’m quite a busy person and quite a stressed out person, I might be feeling a certain way and putting something into a song is an easier format for me to make sense of, instead of confused thoughts in my head.”
Revisit that interview here and, below, read a bonus extract from our conversation, in which the singer discusses her plans, songwriting, playing shows with Lewis Capaldi and more.
Did you have any readymade plans when you first started making music?
“I wanted to do things a bit differently because I wasn’t ready to sign a huge major label deal. I’m still really young and I’m still trying to figure out who I am and what sort of music I want to make, that’s the reason I didn’t dive in and sign anything that came my way. I’d like to do things a bit differently in various ways. I want to stand for a bit more than just, ‘I can write some songs’. One thing I’m really passionate about is being real and wearing sustainable stuff and doing stuff as sustainably as I can. If I’m building a platform and I have the chance to speak to quite a few people then that’s the way I want to use it, to make a positive impact. All my merch is going to be sustainable. I’ve started doing a swap shop, swapping old items of clothing I’ve worn in music videos and stuff with items that my fans want to get rid of. So we don’t have to buy new all the time.”
What’s most important to you as a musician?
“It’s important to me to be really honest with what I’m going through. I hope to continue doing what I’m doing and still be writing stuff I really love in five or 10 years. I hope that nothing has changed along the way so that I have to change myself or write to an agenda or anything like that. I just love doing whatever I want with the music. If I’m being honest and writing music I love, then I know it’s going to connect with other people. As long as I’m doing that then I’m going in the right direction.”
It’s cool when I’m writing about really deep stuff that’s really affecting me
How important is that connection with your listeners?
“I started writing because I had a lot of feelings I wanted to make sense of. For me, feelings and conversations are really hard to process. I write quite a lot of the time for myself and my own mental wellbeing and headspace. It’s cool when I’m writing about really deep stuff that’s really affecting me, making me sad or getting me down. For example, Deep End, is about my sisters. We all struggle with various mental health things and so many people do. For me, not enough people were singing about that sort of thing in the music I was listening to, so I had to have my own outlet for those feelings. I’d have really appreciated it if someone else had written a similar song and I’d heard it at the time when I was struggling and it would’ve really helped me out. So of course, it’s really amazing that people are connecting to it.”
What did you learn from playing shows with Lewis Capaldi?
“That was huge for me. I’d only played quite small-scale UK support tours to rooms of about 200-300, so to go from that to Lewis Capaldi-size rooms in Europe before I’d even released a song was pretty cool, but terrifying. I was just thinking the whole time, ‘This has to be my tour one day’. I did it all completely solo, just with my guitar, a piano and a pedal, it was a really good way of gauging what songs went down well, just the bare bones of the songs. I wanted a band, I was begging my manager, ‘Please can I have a band?’ Of course I couldn’t afford one. I’m not even very good at guitar, one wrong note and everyone would hear me, you know? But it was amazing for my confidence, I was terrified the first night, but once I realised everyone was rooting for me, I could just enjoy the rest of the tour. I’m so glad I managed to squeeze that in before everything happened with lockdown.”
PHOTO: Phoebe Fox