Pop artist Holly Elle takes time with MC to discuss her move from Canada to Nashville, her SXSW experiences and her musical influences.
MC: Is this your first SXSW?
Holly Elle: Actually I was here once before a couple of years ago, but I didn’t really get a chance to enjoy it too much. My shows are a little more spaced out this time, so I’m enjoying it a lot more and really getting the experience.
MC: How did your first time compare to this time?
Elle: Well, I learned to calm down a little bit more. The parking is crazy here, and it’s just a bit of a mad house. I think anything would’ve been better than my first experience—it wasn’t that great, it was a little crazy but yeah, it helped me.
MC: Do you have any words of wisdom for artists going to SXSW for the first time?
Elle: Ask friends who’ve been before and research online as with anything. Come early—two or three hours—before whatever event you’re trying to get to, so you can try and find parking. Prepare to walk, bring layers, umbrellas. Stay hydrated. Bring a big bag full of anything you could possibly need.
MC: You moved from Nashville to Canada, compare the two music scenes.
Elle: Well it’s interesting…I started out at Calgary—that’s where I’m from—and I went to high school there. And then I actually went to college after that, and that was one of my first experiences in Winnipeg Manitoba. In Calgary there’s not a huge music scene at that time, but moving to Winnipeg I really got the sense of art and culture there ‘cause they have an amazing scene.
It’s a lot different moving to Nashville. I consider that a music central place just like L.A. or NY, so it was a little bit daunting, a little bit scary, but people are so friendly that it’s been awesome. That’s why I’ve lived there for the past seven years, and I don’t plan on moving.
MC: What inspired you to pursue music?
Elle: I have a musical family. My father would have music parties growing up, and I have two older brothers. One of them—he is an independent musician as well, so he kind of paved the way for me. I’ve learned a lot from him because he did everything first. So I was with him when he recorded his first CD, and that helped me too. It was a little less scary ‘cause I just did whatever Freddy did. And that was a lot easier for me, and then I really started to come into my own and figure out what I needed to do for my independent artist stuff. So that helped a lot.
MC: How should an international artist, such as yourself, break into the U.S.?
Elle: I think you just need to follow your heart and go where you’re comfortable. For me, I knew that I always wanted to move to America because there’s better opportunity as opposed to Canada. Now I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case, but I think you can do it from anywhere, especially in this digital age. I just went to Nashville and felt this place is right for me—I just know that I belong here. I met the right people, and so it’s hard to say specific advice other than what feels right for you, follow your gut and that’s just what I did. It’s worked so far.
MC: Tell us about your music, who are your influences?
Elle: I have so many influences. It’s hard to pin down a couple because I really like to feel not put in a box, so I like to explore all kinds of different genres. When I compare what my music is now, I like to say something similar to Rihanna, Beyoncé, Mariah Carey…that’s what it’s comparable to because you get that dance flavor, hip-hop flavor or ballads but it’s all still pop. I wanna keep everything really mainstream and accessible because that’s the kind of music I loved growing up. I have studied classical music, I love Broadway, Brit pop..the influences span many decades and genres.
MC: Which song would you use to introduce yourself to a new fan?
Elle: My personal favorite song—and I’ve discovered this more since I’ve been here at SX because it was in my set—is “Wanna be Loved,” and it’s from the EP Leopardess, which is my last EP. I think it’s the most emotional connection, and it and it really speaks to one of my favorite sort of areas in music, which is ‘90s R&B. I always loved music and my family we were always into music, but when I started to explore my writing and my singing [it] was right at the time of Mariah Carey, Monica, Brandy. So to me that song encompasses why I love music in the first place.
MC: What’s coming up for Holly Elle?
Elle: Currently I have a single out called “Lose Control,” which is on iTunes, and I have another one that I am going to be releasing in the next month or two. It’s called “Mirage.” I actually played it at my last couple of shows here, and people are liking it so I’m really excited to release that. Then this summer I’ll be back in the studio again out in L.A. working with Issac Hasson and bringing new music to you guys in the fall.
For more information, visit hearholly.com.