An Interview With Dreamy Folk Musician, ROYAL HOLLAND On His latest Album, How His Parents Amazing Record Collection Inspires Him And More!
Posted On 02 Mar 2016
Tag: All Access, All Access Music Group, Artist Interview, Best Folk Album, Brian Olive, CHICAGO, Cincinnati, CMJ.com, Dr. John, Elliot Smith, Janis Joplin, Jeff Mangum, Jesus Christ Superstar, Jim James, John Vanderslice, Kentucky, Kurt Vile, Laura Ballance, Leonard Cohen, Mac McCaughan, Margaret Darling, Merge Records, Music Row, Nashville, Neil Young, Neutral Milk Hotel, Newport, Ohio Music Award, Reggie, Royal Holland, Seattle, Sing-Songwriter, Sonic Youth, Southgate House Revival, Sunset Tavern, Superchunk, The Full Effect, The Greenhornes, The Kinks, The McCoys, The Pixies, Twin Rivers, Unfolded Trilogy, Vol 1 The Maze, Vol 2 Flamingo
Royal Holland is a singer-songwriter from Newport, KY playing dreamy folk rock songs about love and loss since early 2014. He is desperate to create elaborate, visceral, truthful musical stories in every new song. He stands upon the shoulders of his heroes of the art form; Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Jeff Mangum among many others, and draws inspiration from the terribly beautiful and wonderfully horrible events of daily mundane life. He wants us all to feel beautiful and free.
Growing up in a small farm town, Royal started piano lessons at age 7 during which he begged his instructor to teach him how to write a song. Since then, Royal has always taken solace in writing songs. It got him through being an outcast in his formative years, becoming a single dad at a young age and two failed marriages. He continues to write songs that will connect with those of us who can’t quite seem to find their place in this life.
Royal has led two bands over the past 14 years, but has recenty branched out as a solo artist. In his first year he has been featured on CMJ.com, shared the stage with Reggie and the Full Effect, released an initial 4 song E.P. titled “Volume One – The Maze” (recorded and produced by Grammy winning producer Brian Olive), begun work on a second E.P., cut a Nashville demo on Music Row , logged over 5000 touring miles and won The 2014 Ohio Music Award for “Best Folk Album”.
Learn what Royal is up to NOW in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time today! How’s 2016 been treating you so far?
Hi Leah, 2016 is great! I’m on the road right now. Vol2 Flamingo of the Unfolded Trilogy series just sold out. Things are good!
So, what does a typical day look like for you lately?
Right now a typical day looks like traveling to a new city and a new room to play these songs out live.
What can you tell us about your newest release, “Vol. 3 Program”? How is this collection different or similar to anything else you’ve put out?
This is the first time I’ve ever branched out as a solo act, which is why I chose the Royal Holland persona. It’s very freeing to get into another skin, so to speak, in the creative and performing process. I feel like it opens up possibilities that I may not have seized in the past, playing and recording with bands. This was also the first time I recorded all the parts on a record myself. I had done that for demos but never for a recording until now. I asked Brian Olive (The Greenhornes, Dr. John) to produce me. That’s also new to these records.
Generally, where do you get the inspiration for your music? Do you find that that is constantly changing?
My inspiration comes from a lot of different places, but all of them really point toward the same thing. The songwriting is a means to discover the deepest truths about myself, the world and other humans around me. I read a lot and I’m always finding a great line or concept here and there that I try to internalize and then write about. My music is certainly a product of some diverse influences over time.
My parents had a great record collection (Janis Joplin, Chicago, Jesus Christ Superstar, The McCoys) that I wore out as a kid before discovering heroes like Superchunk, Sonic Youth, Neutral Milk Hotel and The Pixies in the 90’s, More recently I’ve really delved into a lot of Leonard Cohen, Neil Young and the Kinks. I feel like the constantly evolving influences get churned around inside for a while and then when a song idea strikes end up coming out in new and Royal ways.
You’ve led two bands in the course of your music career and more recently, you’ve branched out on your own as a solo artist. What do you think you prefer? Do you plan on continuing to make music alone in the future?
I plan to release a solo record next year that I’m starting to work on soon with Brian Olive. It will be different in every way from what I’ve been releasing as Royal Holland. I truly appreciate the creative freedom that comes with creating music on my own, however there is much more to me as a songwriter and beyond this collection. I love playing music live with musicians and friends that I love and trust.
What artists have been inspiring you since you started making music?
Mac McCaughan and Laura Ballance of Merge Records / Superchunk have been a lifelong inspirations of mine. Their band and label were the eye opening facets of my youth that showed me that if I loved music I could create and release it on my own and find an audience. I’ve adhered to that mindset to this day.
Who would you absolutely love to work with in the future?
Kurt Vile, John Vanderslice and Jim James.
What has been a favorite show of yours?
On this tour so far, it’s been our set at the Sunset Tavern in Seattle. We loved Seattle and got to play for a great crowd!
Do you have any upcoming shows lined up for the near future?
I’m going to be returning to Southgate House Revival in Cincinnati on February 25 for a folk showcase I’m putting together with Margaret Darling. Margaret performs live and in the studio with me often. She’s featured on “Twin Rivers” on Vol1 The Maze and is currently on tour with me.
What do you hope is the message of your music?
Vol3 The Program speaks to the restrictions of being bound to our physical bodies. Meaning, we’re stuck in these bodies and these conditions because our selves are stuck in them. Accepting those limitations can help us to realize our true nature and even live out our potential. Royal Holland is the protagonist in the Unfolded Trilogy. It is through losing someone he loves that he learns this.
What do you hope listeners take away from your songs?
I hope that they get a sense of what it’s like to feel beautiful and free, but also gritty and alive.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Just that there’s much more to come!