The Hot Seat | Indie
Gabriella San Felipe: What was the beginning of your music career like? How did you get here?
Holly Miranda: Well I started writing songs when I was 14, and then I went to New York to visit my sister and played an open mic night at The Sidewalk Cafe. I had only written two songs, but I was offered a show and then decided that I was going to move there the next year. So I wrote a bunch more songs, told my parents that I was going to visit my sister for two weeks, packed up two suitcases and called them when I got there and told them I wasn't coming back. I started gigging around the West Village, the lower east side, and pretty much anywhere that had a mic in a corner of a room. I started doing that when I was 16, and I just turned 33, so I've been doing that for more than half my life.
GS: You scored a major record deal when you were only 17. How did that affect you positively or negatively?
HM: I think it was my first time seeing how jaded the music industry could be. It was surprising to me at the time so I ended up walking away from it, and I never heard the record that I made then. We weren't completely finished, but we were about 80% done with it. I don't know if it was positive or negative, it was just kinda my first foyer into how messed up the music industry was.
GS: Recently in the Chicago Tribune you talked about how you overcame writers block by going to Joshua Tree. Can you tell me about that experience?
HM: It was really isolating. I had never been to Joshua tree before, and I didn't really see any people for the first two weeks I was there, which was what I needed. Coming from New York and L.A. you can never really see much further than a city block, and I needed that expansiveness. I was just kinda over humans, and so after a couple of weeks I was like "Oh wait I like people, I miss people" so I went to open mic night at the Joshua Tree Saloon and met everyone in town. I wrote Desert Call the first night I was there, and I think that I just needed the space. It's like what I would imagine being on Mars is like, where you can just see forever. It was very beautiful and desolate and isolating, and I think it allowed for me to feel what I was feeling and be vulnerable, instead of being so self conscious and sort of stifled by my surroundings.
GS: What have been some of your favorite places to play?
HM: I think the Sydney Opera House in Australia was pretty fun, and I got to play there for like a week. I love playing Schubas, and I love playing Chicago. I don't really remember venues as much, I only remember venues after I'm outside of them. But I think you can tell a lot about a city from the crowd. Chicago is always very fun, St. Louis, Philly. I love playing in Europe. I feel there's a different appreciation and respect for music and the arts there. I love playing in Italy. There's a place in the Ravenna thats right on the coast that's an outdoor stage. I can't remember the name of it, but Ravenna is very beautiful.
GS: Do you still get nervous on stage or have you gotten passed that?
HM: Not really. I'll be more nervous if I'm feeling tired or if my throat is bothering me, that kinda stuff. But no I don't really get nervous anymore. When I do it's like "Oh I'm nervous," and it feels like a novelty at this point. I'm just having a lot of fun and I feel very free. I kinda don't really give a **** about a lot anymore.
GS: Do you believe that your religious upbringing had any affect on your music?
HM: Yeah for sure. I hear a lot of gospel influence. I still love choirs. I love that sort of vibe. And I'm still like a very spiritual person, definitely not religious, but I love when my shows sort of feel like church. Like a come to jesus vibe where I don't remember all of it. Those are my favorite shows.
GS: How would you say your new self titled album differs from "The Magicians Private Library?"
HM: I mean I think they're really different. I think production wise The Magicians Private Library is very layered, very kinda cloudy and reverbie. I think this one is very contrast, and very stark. It's kinda like in your face with the vocals, and there's not a lot of effects. There's not a lot of layers, I play most of the instruments, and what I didn't play my band was playing. I really just wanted to capture the feeling of a live show.
GS: What is the overall message or emotion you wanted to display in your new album?
HM: Love. Just love.
GS: Who are some artists you would like to collaborate with?
HM: I mean most of them are dead. I don't really know much current music. I guess Leonrad Cohen, Joni Mitchell. If we could bring back Nina Simone or Edith Piaf that would be great.
GS: Do you have any advice on up and coming musicians who might be struggling?
HM: Only do it if you absolutely have to, because it's not easy. Also read letters to a young poet.