Graham Reid | | 3 min read
Hollie Smith has always been busy, but getting her into a recording studio has been more difficult. It has been almost a decade since her imressive debut Long Player and six years since her somewhat overlooked Humour and the Misfortune of Others.
But now she has a new album out Water or Gold and is embarking on a national tour to showcase it (see dates below).
But as she told the Herald's Russell Baillie recently, the thought of recording again filled her with trepidation: "It's kind of scary because obviously next year it will be 10 years since Long Player and 22 years since I started performing.
"I was panicking and feelng a lot of pressure to do something good . . . and I'm trying to produce something that people will think is still relevant."
With its mix of blues, soul and r'n'b, Water or Gold offers a little something from all corners of her influences, so with it in hand it was time to ask Hollie Smith to answer our Famous Elsewhere Songwriters Questionnaire.
The first song which really affected you was . . .
This is a Man's World' - James Brown. I found a VHS when I was about 5 of a James Brown concert which had been taped off the TV, En Vogue opening for him . . . Fell in love with it. Watched it every day for years and years until my stepdad taped over it with the World Cup soccer final. I didn't talk to him for a year.
This Is A Man's world comes on, there's this beautiful ballerina dancing to it and then there's a vocal solo with one of his massive awesome big black background singers, I wanted to be her.
Your first (possibly embarrassing) role models in music were . . .
To be honest I don't really have any major embarrassing tastes -- but I guess my first cassette tape was Kylie Minogue . . . but I was 6 or something so I needed some pop to go with my James Brown & Jimi Hendrix. I'm lucky I still had decent music around. Definitely danced round the house singing into a hairbrush to Like a Prayer but let's be honest, I still do that.
As songwriters: Lennon-McCartney or Jagger-Richards; kd lang or Katy Perry; Madonna or Michael Jackson; Johnny Cash or Kris Kristofferson?
First ones hard - prob have to go Jagger-Richards actually, kd lang, michael and johnny.
The three songs (yours, or by others) you would love everyone to hear because they are well crafted are . . .
AAGH too hard as soon as I start thinking I get brain flood. first few that came to mind though are Tea for Tillerman - Cat Stevens. Perfect one minute song. God Bless The Child - one of my all time favourite songs of ever and ever. Lyrics, of course. And Portrait of Tracy by Jaco Pastorius. Love Jaco. Jeez I could go on for miles.
Melody first? Words or phrase first? Simultaneous?
Melody normally - on a good day simultaneous. Sometimes lyrics come with where my melody phonetically takes me too.
The best book on music or musicians you have read is . . .
I enjoyed reading Songwriters on Songwriting (Paul Zollo) for the sole reason that you read this massive book with all these different questions answers of all these top amazing people but all of sudden you are reading the two inserts from Bob Dylan and Leonard Cohen and within a wash of generic questions all of sudden their answers are so poetic and perfect, deep & visual . . . it stops you in your tracks and realise the genius of their minds.
If you could co-write with anyone it would be . . .
Seriously?? Um. Prince pops into mind but again there are so many!
The last CD or vinyl album you bought was . . . (And your most recent downloads include . . .)
Last iTunes album bought was Anderson, Paak & James Vincent Mcmorrow. Last vinyl was 'Putiki Sings ' Songs from the Putiki Maori Club Choir. 'fiddy cents from the Salvation Army. Mean.
One line (or couplet) from a song -- yours or someone else's -- which you think is just a stone cold winner is . . .
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck
for the rain to gather and the wind to suck
for the sun to rot, for the trees to drop
here is a strange and bitter crop.
Songwriting: what's the ratio of inspiration/perspiration?
All in the perspective. These are sometimes the same thing.
Ever had a song come to you fully-formed like it dropped into your lap?
Also Fallen which is the iTunes exclusive of Water and Gold I wrote a couple of days after the Christchurch earthquake was instant. Yeah there's more, can't think.
And finally, finish this couplet in any way you like: “Standing at the airport with an empty suitcase at my feet . . .” (You are NOT allowed to rhyme that with “meet” however)
Shit. I forgot my clothes.