For a long time, performing a live show seemed like a distant dream for Holly Humberstone. She started to create a buzz with her debut EP in the summer of 2020, landing a New York Times feature film and building up a fan base, but the world was in the depths of the pandemic and touring remained out of the question. . So being in New York City playing the Bowery Ballroom with Lorde in the audience is a shocking experience for the rising musician – “sick” is the only way to describe it, really.
This is her first time in the United States, and she has just arrived in New York, after LA and Austin for shows.
“I liked LA but it’s lovely. It’s fucking sick. I love this place, ”she says on a sofa in the lobby of the Bowery Hotel, the day between her two dates at the Bowery Ballroom. “It’s so sick. I’m just excited to be spending more time here.
Performing live shows in the United States is rather surreal for Humberstone, which released its first song shortly before the UK lockdown.
“I feel like my whole career has been blocked,” said the 21-year-old. “So it was very difficult for me to assess and get the impression that this was real and that there were actually legitimate people paying for a ticket.”
She released her second EP, “The Walls Are Way Too Thin”, on Friday, and taking it on the road was a surreal test of how music is discovered these days: maybe she had songs. on the internet for quite some time now. , but from her perspective, she was locked in her parents’ house and now suddenly has fans in the United States who know all the words.
“I have no idea how these guys found my music, but it’s disgusting. I think that’s the great thing about music, that we can connect when we’re on the other side of the world and going through the same things, ”she says. “A lot of them are around my age, so we’re going through the same kind of changes. Everything I write is truly universal and everyone experiences the same thing. I am not unique in everything I go through. It’s so nice to be able to see these people fully.
She has also found an additional way to connect with fans using her love of vintage clothing. During the lockdown, she came up with a concept she calls Fifth Sister Swap, where she would post her old posts on Instagram, then send them to interested fans, and accept an exchange in return. She now runs the Swap Shop in the lobby of her shows as a sort of merchant, and fans will bring any clothes they want to trade with them at the show in order to participate.
“I love fashion, and it’s so much fun for me to dress up, and I also care about sustainable fashion,” she says. “I am obsessed with eBay. I’m on eBay everyday, bidding on stuff. It’s my favorite app on my phone, and I’m obsessed with it.
While the first EP was written from her childhood home during her later school years, the new music comes from the next stage in her life, as she left home and moved to London. Humberstone is incredibly nonchalant about his writing, though it clearly strikes a chord with his audience: During his shows in New York, the crowd sang almost every word, shouting the lines at him as they swayed and cracked. .
Still, in Humberstone’s words, she “really doesn’t have a lot of interesting things to do.” She approaches writing like a snippet from a moment-in-time diary, which seems to work.
Humberstone grew up in rural Leicestershire, one of five sisters whose parents worked for the NHS. Despite her parents’ medical professions, they introduced her to the creative arts (her mother is a cellist and her father is passionate about poetry). She attended a conservative girls’ school and although this gave her many close friendships, she saw no one around her pursuing music. Her childhood home, which she describes as a “creative mess,” served as an inspiration to tap into her artistic side.
“We had a crazy basement and sometimes there were frogs there. My friends would always come and say, “What is this place? ” “, she says. “But for me, it was where I have always lived. It’s just a really sacred place. And I think there was something about the house that was really inspiring and it was just a really cool place to make my basket.
Writing music is therapy for her, and she is thrilled to see the reception other young female artists are getting who seem to approach writing this way.
“I realized there’s like a new trend where female artists… it’s a really good trend because people are so vulnerable and honest about their feelings, but there is a tendency to share too much. and everyone is completely sharing and it’s so nice, ”says Humberstone. “And I feel like maybe it’s something to do with the pandemic. Especially in the last year or so, when we haven’t really been able to connect with people, I’ve needed that kind of vulnerability and that human connection so much more. I have really enjoyed this type of music over the past year.