Durham singer-songwriter, Holly Rees, is set to release her new single ‘Magpie’ this month so Lee Allcock caught up with her to talk about the release, the accompanying video, and what musician she’d invite to dinner.
Your new single, ‘Magpie’, is set to be released on Friday 8th June, so can you tell me some more about it…
I wrote the song when I moved back up north after living in London (and after I spent my all my money on this guitar instead of my rent). It’s a song about not really knowing what you’re doing and maybe a little bit about growing up and what home means.
Having moved back to the north from London, what do you personally make of the arts scene in the North East at this present moment? And what can be done to improve it?
I really love the scene in the North East – I think it’s one of the best whilst also probably one of the most underrated, but there is so much talent here. In terms of improving it, kick the Tories out and get some arts funding in?
Who exactly are the ‘magpies on the roof that are bickering again’ on your new single?
They are actually real magpies. I was living in this field in a wooden caravan I built (long story, but it was great), writing songs and watching the magpies on the roof. I think they’re pretty special birds. Also, their bickering sort of mirrored an internal bickering in my own head at the time just about life and whether I was making the right choices, so it kind of made sense to me lyrically.
You’ll be releasing a music video for ‘Magpie’ too…can you tell me some more about that?
My lovely friend Ryan Peebles (who directed it) came up with the whole concept for it and I love it. For one of the days of shooting, I took Ryan over to Weardale where I grew up, so there are some really nostalgic places to me going on in the background.
You worked with Northumberland-based producer Matt Dunbar on your upcoming EP, ‘Slow Down’, set to be released in August. What was that like? Did you face any difficulties? Did he give you any advice?
Matt’s brilliant – I love working with him. I’m definitely learning a lot and he’s patient as well as a bit of a perfectionist, which is exactly what I’d want in someone working on my stuff with me. We have a lot of fun too – and he drinks even more coffee than I do.
You’ve played a number of high-profile support slots over the past year including dates with the likes of CoCo and the Butterfields and Sam Lavery, but what has been your favourite gig to date and why?
That’s a tough one! I played a really lush Sofar Sounds gig the other month for International Women’s Day but that gig at Think Tank? with Sam was absolutely packed, so that was a lot of fun.
If you could invite any musician, living or otherwise, to dinner, who would that be and why?
Probably Joni Mitchell or Billy Joel just to pick their lyrical brains. Or Courtney Barnett…that’d be fun.
And finally, do you have anything else coming up this year that North East music lovers can get excited about?
Yeah! So the new EP comes out on the 11th August and that’s also the first date of my Northern Tour with Matt, playing Head of Steam in Newcastle. Then we’re heading to York, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Gargrave, Morpeth and finishing off at the Surf Café in Tynemouth – I can’t wait.
To listen to Holly’s brand new track, ‘Magpie’, head to soundcloud.com/hollysounds after Thursday 7th June.