New Zealand music legend Hollie Smith is currently on tour, sharing her considerable talent with audiences around the country. The Lady Dee tour, named for her most recent single, hits Raglan’s YOT Club tomorrow night (November the 6th), followed by Whakatane (November 8th), Napier (December 4th), and Masterton (December 5th). You can check out these and other dates on her facebook page.
We chatted to the lady herself about her new album, her songwriting process, life on the road and the music industry.
Villainesse: Lady Dee was released just over a month ago now - a great song with a killer video to go with - are you happy with how it's been received so far?
Hollie: To be totally honest I’ve been so busy trying to get the album done that I have no idea how it’s been received. I have had some positive feedback so that’s great but I am living in my own little bubble at the minute so I don’t know what’s happening with mankind... apart from the rugby. I watched that.
Villainesse: Can you tell us a little bit about your new album?
Hollie: Lady Dee is the first single from the upcoming album. It’s been a collection of ideas over the last few years – I’m still in the process of shaping it at the moment, but hopefully all going to plan we should be releasing early March 2016. There is a lot to complete though before then, so I am heads down… well, trying to get my head around it at the moment!
Villainesse: What is your songwriting process like?
Hollie: I have normally written on keys until recently when I started playing guitar again for the Anika, Boh, Hollie collab project… So with this album I’ve written on guitar more, which lends itself to a different process. Basically start with chords or a riff and almost simultaneously create the melody. Unless the lyrics come on the spot, which happens occasionally. I chip away at lyrics when the inspiration takes me... or I force every ounce of willpower to sit in one place till I’m done.
Villainesse: You’ve been involved in many collaborations over the years. Do you prefer working solo or writing/playing with other musicians?
Hollie: I love both - as far as enjoyment goes I kind of do prefer working in collab as it’s just way more fun and is a lot less pressure. However when I write for myself it’s a personal process of my own thoughts and ideas and I like the space I get into when I’m writing - so both are equally as rewarding.
Villainesse: You're playing shows around NZ and Australia in the coming months, how important is touring for you?
Hollie: Touring is awesome - it is really hard work though and takes it out of you. When you're on the road there’s definitely times when you just want to be in a normal human routine and have clean clothes and sleep in a comfortable bed, but really I’m not doing any big stretches away at the moment so it just means I won’t have any days or nights off for the next few months… not that that is really ever a luxury anyway!
Villainesse: Have you found it difficult to adapt to the changing media environment, where everyone streams music and it's increasingly difficult to get younger people to actively engage with and purchase music?
Hollie: I struggle hugely with the constant changing landscape of the music world! It’s moving so quickly it’s hard to know what path to take and how best to execute it. I’m not sure how to get hip with the young folk, ha. I feel like soon I'll have to ask my son (7) how to work all the things in the world. There are obviously a lot of options but really the hardest bit is no longer getting paid.
Villainesse: One of the key observations taken away from the VNZMA nominations this year was the lack of female representation, which seems crazy considering how much amazing music came from some of our most talented women over the past year. Do you think women are underrepresented in New Zealand music?
Hollie: Uh - no? I don’t know, it ebbs and flows I guess, there have been years when a huge amount of the nominees are women. However unless there was some kind of ineligibility issue I’m unaware of, I’m really surprised Kimbra wasn't included in the noms this year - I think her latest album is an incredible piece of work, so that’s disappointing to me. I am sure there are a few artists overlooked, but the artists who are in there deserve to be.
Villainesse: Have you ever experienced sexism in the NZ music industry?
Hollie: Probably heaps but I don’t think about it and will never make that an excuse. I’ve been in the boys club since I got my first skateboard when I was 7 and it’s never changed really. I’m used to it and am comfortable in it - it’s up to me how far I go and generally if someone says I can’t do something I just work harder. I have enough obstacles in the industry without worrying about boys and girls.
Villainesse: And on that note, as someone who has achieved incredible success in a really cut-throat industry, what's one piece of advice you would give to young women who might be doubting themselves and really struggling to make their dreams a reality?
Hollie: Well not just to young women but to anyone - If you have a plan B and you choose to do music then plan B will always be the easier path. I never let myself have a plan B - I had no life but music. If you live and breathe it then you can and will do it. (If I had a plan B I would’ve jumped ship long time ago!)
Additional writing by Lizzie Marvelly.Support Villainesse