“Imperial High” – Hollis

We had the pleasure of interviewing Hollis, and here’s what she had to say:

Q: What got you into creating music?

HOLLIS: I fell head over heels for music at a young age. It’s funny—I was this shy, introverted 4-year-old kid, and my kindergarten music teacher saw something in me. During a parent-teacher conference, she suggested that I join a choir because I seemed to really come alive when I was around music. Even at that age, my vocals landed me in the State Choir, and then eventually the National Children’s Choir, until I was 8 years old. Next, I jumped into the world of musical theater, and wow, did it take me on a wild ride! I snagged a few Broadway credits and got the chance to perform at mind-blowing venues like Madison Square Garden. But you know what really clicked for me? When I was 13, I picked up a guitar and started teaching myself to play. That’s when I wrote my first song, and it felt like the missing puzzle piece had fallen into place. It became my way of deciphering the world around me and exploring myself. I dabbled in acting for a while, even moving to LA to pursue film and TV dreams. But by the time I hit 16, music had completely captivated me, and I knew it was my true calling. The lyrics and melodies I create are the art I want to share with the world.

Q: What was your favorite part about the whole process of creating “Imperial High”?

HOLLIS: “Imperial High” was born in the most unexpected of places—30,000 feet high above the ground on a flight to Florida. I bet I annoyed the heck out of my fellow passengers with my non-stop humming and furious scribbling. But the real magic didn’t happen until I joined forces with the incredible producer, John McLucas. We hunkered down in this charming little studio nestled in Vancouver for four days, surrounded by breathtaking nature. The space, the energy—it was all perfect. John and I had this extraordinary synergy, where every idea, every note and word, just seemed laid out before us for the taking. There were moments during the recording when tears welled up in my eyes. I mean, you can hear it in the final product—the intimacy, the emotions I was letting myself feel.

Q: How would you say your sound has evolved since you started this journey?

HOLLIS: Oh, the journey of self-discovery and sonic exploration—I do contain multitudes. It actually took me some time to find my own voice as a songwriter and artist, to unearth that authentic sound that resonates with my soul. When I first started writing, I was young and easily swayed by the glitz and glamour of the acting world. And as a young performer, people tried to steer me towards that “Disney-like” pop sound, but luckily, I knew that wasn’t the right path for me.

I constantly push myself to venture beyond my comfort zone and challenge myself. And when the pandemic hit, I seized the opportunity to dive headfirst into songwriting. I’ve written too many things to count, experimenting with different styles and genres, always trying to find that elusive spark. And you know what? I found a place for myself in the realm of Indie-Pop song-writing (i.e. Gracie Abrams, Holly Humberstone, etc). There’s something magical about the way I can express myself lyrically and build those songs that everyone can relate to with Pop. It makes me feel the most alive. Of course, my love for the Alt-Rock scene (i.e. Catfish and the Bottleman, Michigander, etc) will forever seep into my production and performances, infusing them with an electric energy that I crave on the stage.

Q: Do you enjoy experimenting with different genres?

HOLLIS: Experimentation is my lifeblood; it’s crucial to the process. I think songs have a life of their own, and I kind of let them shape themselves, even if it means venturing into unfamiliar territory. I actually have this one song that started as a complete joke, a challenge from a friend to write something in a comedic style. But you know what? It ended up becoming one of my favorite songs I wrote from this past year. Life is too short to confine ourselves to one sound or style. And collaborating and writing with friends always opens up a world of possibilities for me. Sometimes we end up crafting silly country tunes or diving headfirst into EDM— completely outside my usual repertoire. But embracing the unknown and the unpolished is so important for finding my creative spark.

Q: Is there anything else you could see yourself doing full-time if you weren’t a musician?

HOLLIS: I often ponder that question, and the truth is, I just can’t imagine a life without music. I crave creation and thrive on self-expression through music. And the idea of getting a desk job sends shivers down my spine. If music weren’t my main pursuit, I envision myself juggling a multitude of odd jobs. I’d love to immerse myself in my hobbies and experiment with different types of jobs. But if I had to choose one more “standard” job, I’d probably find myself as an elementary teacher. There’s something magical about nurturing young minds and getting to be creative with the little ones.

Q: Can you give us a peek into what you have planned for this year regarding your music?

HOLLIS: “Imperial High” marks my debut single as Hollis, but trust me, there’s much more to come. I’ve been holed up in my room for the past couple of years, pouring my heart and soul into songwriting, and I’m super excited to finally be sharing it. I’ve got more releases lined up for this summer, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to share the music that feels so unequivocally me. I’m also itching to hit the stage and bring these songs to life in a live setting. There’s an electric energy that comes alive when I connect with an audience, and I’m counting down the days until I can perform “Imperial High” live. So, stay tuned, because the journey is just beginning, and I can’t wait to take you along for the ride.

Interviewed by Zoey King






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