Interview: Holly North

Berlin has long been a breeding ground for emerging creative talent, be it photographers, writers, artists or musicians, the German-capital has always held its own in terms of artistic output.

The latest name to join the cities list of creators that are worth paying attention to is Holly North, a young German native who combines modern day technology with traditional sound sources to create a melodic, rhythm heavy style of house music.

Following tracks on the likes of Bar 25 and Traum, North debuted with Jesus Was Black this year and is now in a great spot to deliver more impressive music as the first half of 2020 comes to a close.

We spoke with Holly to talk about the remix for Jesus Is Black, what his plans might be for the near-future, how he found himself performing live in an abandon building and more. Get the full discussion below.

Hey Holly, how are things? Thanks for taking some time to speak with us.

Hi, first of all thanks for having me! I’m doing well overall. Of course, this situation we are in right now is not easy but I do think I’m very privileged to be able to use this time to write new music and develop ideas and not having to worry about getting by such as so many people all over the world do at the moment.

You recently released on Jesus Was Black with a great remix for Barcelona based producer Maris, how did you approach that project in the studio?

Thanks for your nice words! Generally, I always love reworking and rethinking existing ideas since I consider it a super interesting process to tell a new story with elements that are already part of another.

As for Maris’ piece, I right away liked the dynamics of the percussion and felt it could sound really cool to combine them with a deeper and more ambient feeling for which I also used some of the ambient voices of the original. I started with a groovy bassline and then tried to give it more and more space by adding new pads and melodies. It all then quite intuitively culminated into a suspenseful bass melody which from that point on became the lead of my working process.

And can you tell us about what other ideas you have been working on?

In the beginning of this year, I finished my new EP which will be released this Fall. Some new remixes will be released in the next months as well.

Also, I used the past couple of months to work on completely new ideas that I collected over the past year. Some of them have already been part of my liveset for some time and I was happy to finally make proper arrangements out of them. It’s all going more and more into the musical direction I would like to so I’m looking forward to what is next.

We also caught wind that you might be working on an album, how far along is that? Will we hear it before 2020 is over?

As mentioned, I have been working on eight to ten unreleased pieces which I hope to finish in the upcoming weeks. Working on so many different tracks at the same time was intense but it’s quite nice to see the quality of my music increasing. I would love to release some by the end of 2020 – whether it’s going to be an album or not, I’m definitely excited to see what people will think about it.

On your recent Instagram posts you have setup a studio inside an old building outside of Berlin, how did you come across this? And what way does being away from the city help with your creativity?

I was invited by the collective called Kabrise which is a newly found initiative by young professionals finding alternative and diverse approaches for a sustainable future. I feel both personally and politically connected to the issue and I am happy to be part of the collective as an artist. For one month they were located at an abandoned area next to a lake in the north of Berlin, so I thought it would be cool to immerse myself into the environment and record some sounds.

We then even found an old and super out of tune piano and I was sure that this can be quite an inspiring place to work in, so I set up my studio there for some time. I don’t necessarily think that being away from the city is making me more creative, however it does definitely change my approach to ideas. I take more time and I am more attentive to things I see and hear which I am sure only benefits my compositions.

In the end of my stay I even got to perform an intimate liveset in front of the super sweet Kabrise family creating new sound images with the recordings I had made. The set was also filmed and will be published via Kabrise in the upcoming weeks.

With some parts of the world becoming somewhat normal again, and some small-capacity events happening around Europe, when can we expect to see a Holly North live show in person?

As all bookings for the Summer and Fall got canceled, I of course would love to perform as soon as possible again. I have played two open-air shows in the past weeks which were cool and I hope to play more but what is much more important for society right now is to effectively contain the virus. Looking at the continuing risk of infection I unfortunately do think it would be very irresponsible to go back to normal anytime soon.

Thanks a lot for answering our questions! Before we go, what’s your top pick for an album to get through lockdown?

Thanks to you!! Hmm, good question. I have a couple of albums in mind but if I’d have to choose one I would probably say Leon Vynehall’s Nothing Is Still. It’s super beautifully arranged and perfect for any miserable day in lockdown!

Follow Holly North on SoundCloud.