- Tue, 2011-06-21 15:50
With Sex Pistols' Paul Cook as her dad, Hollie grew up in a West London household surrounded by music. Turning her back on her performing arts school Hollie was persauded by family friend and Slits singer Ari Up to sing backing vocals on their Revenge of The Killer Slits EP, eventually joining the seminal female punk group on a six week tour.
Collaborations with Jamie T and Ian Brown followed, with Hollie going on to feature on Prince Fatty's underground reggae hit Milk and Honey. Prince Fatty quickly took on board production duties for Hollie's debut record, which upon release was named BBC 6Music's Album of The Week.
I Like Music caught up with Hollie to chat about her self-coined 'Tropical Pop', touring with Big Audio Dynamite, growing up surrounded by music, being part of the Slits and her plans for the future...
"I Like Music because…you can go anywhere you want with it, literally or emotionally. It can cater to any mood that you’re in or you want to be in!” Hollie Cook
ILM: How are you feeling about your debut record now it's finished?
Hollie: I still feel quite overwhelmed really, it’s been a little bit surreal in the sense that it’s one of those things that I’ve always dreamed of, you know, having my own album! Now that it’s finally done I feel very happy (laughs), it’s really cool and I love it, I love it. You have to love it right? I mean weird in one way to be like “I love my own album” but, I guess I’m just really happy so...
ILM: You should love it, I'm sure a lot of time and effort has gone into it!
Hollie: Yeah, exactly, I’m really pleased all around!
ILM: I saw you'd described it as “tropical pop” - a wonderful term!
Hollie: Tropical is definitely the vibe in general that struck me as most correct to describe it. It’s got quite a cosmic kooky feel to it as well. I said to someone else that it’s sort of like the sound of a beach party on the moon (laughs), that’s kind of how I would describe it! If someone described an album like that to me, I would definitely want to listen to it! (laughs)
ILM: How would you describe your song writing process?
Hollie: It kind of varies really. I still feel like I’m exercising my song writing skills, it’s something I want to constantly try and improve. I’ve had certain ideas for songs that float around for a couple of months or even years before I feel the right way to execute it comes out. It really depends. Sometimes it’s based on an idea for a lyric but more often than not it’s a melody idea and I work around that. Sometimes there’s music I've written and I’ll work from there, it really, really varies with each song. I very much enjoy writing based on melody, melody is my favourite thing about working on music, but it’s hard to say really because it varies.
ILM: Just inspiration and instinct, if there was an exact formula it would probably make things a little boring...
Hollie: Exactly. The excitement of writing songs is that it doesn’t happen the same way every time, that every song you write is not always about the same thing.
ILM: Prince Fatty produced the album, what was it like working with him?
Hollie: Harmonious I feel! I love working with him. I enjoyed working on the Prince Fatty stuff so much that I didn’t ever want to stop working with him! (laughs) So I just thought “that’s a good excuse to continue working on stuff that we’ve already got going” and he was pretty pleased with the idea to do an album! I was actually really honoured about that. I’ve got massive amounts of respect for him and what he does so I feel extremely honoured and privileged to have done a whole bloody album with him! (laughs)
ILM: What have you learnt from him?
Hollie: Gosh, I couldn’t specify what I’ve learnt, I feel like I’ve learnt so much. Just being in his studio and around other musicians and the songs that he writes. I try and absorb every aspect of what I see and hear him do. I couldn’t really try and learn bloody everything from him, but (laughs), you know!
ILM: You’ve been playing with Rotten Hill Gang and touring with Big Audio Dynamite, how’s that been?
Hollie: Really, really fun actually. The tour was hilarious and good and it was nice to get back out on the road again. I’d been touring around before but it’s been a while since I’d done any. It was cool, the tour venues we were playing were ridiculously big and I love working with the Rotten Hill Gang, it’s really, really fun!
ILM: What can we expect from your own live shows?
Hollie: I’m still developing that one really. I’m so used to performing live in a band, so I’m still finding my feet and my comfort zone for performing as a solo act, but I don’t know, I just do me (laughs) on the stage and that varies I suppose, with my mood and stuff like that. I’ve only done a few solo gigs so far.
ILM: Do you look forward to performing?
Hollie: Yeah, it’s probably my favourite thing to do apart from days in the studio, which is my favourite thing to do. I like performing a lot. I mean, it's quite scary and weird sometimes. I don’t view myself as an extrovert and I don't enjoy being the centre of attention in any way at all, but being able to sing in front of people is fun. You get a proper, genuine reaction from the people watching you, whether they like it or not, a reaction is great.
ILM: You've grown up surrounded by music, particularly with your dad as drummer for the Sex Pistols. What have you learnt from him?
Hollie: I guess if anything it just encouraged me to do it because it was around so much. I’m really lucky to have understanding parents who come from that background! We have a lot of common ground and stuff to talk about and it made it almost instinctive, if your parents can relate to what you’re doing. They’re very, very encouraging and helpful.
ILM: You spent time performing with The Slits. You even wrote a song that appeared on their last album. What was that experience like? It must have been hugely inspirational?
Hollie: Massively. Looking back, more than anything that helped me really realise what I wanted to do. Being in The Slits I went from being a young girl...to...just to grow up around women like that, to be able to express yourself and be free in that way, it was very liberating for me. I learnt a lot about myself (laughs), I feel like it gave me all of my confidence, it shaped my personality, my performing personality and my musical confidence. Everything, yeah, I got to meet some really great people and go to some ridiculously amazing places, it was an invaluable experience for me.
ILM: What music have you been listening to recently?
Hollie: I guess a lot of vocal, female vocal – I love Warpaint and the Dum Dum Girls. I’m always listening to old girl groups like The Crystals and what else have I been listening to? It’s hard isn’t it? It usually depends on what mood I’m in...girlie stuff! (laughs)
ILM: What are your future plans, what’s coming up?
Hollie: I would say just taking everything as it comes! I just want to get out and do as much live stuff as possible really. I’m ready to go and start doing my own shows!