After growing up on a diet of classic and psychedelic rock, the musician Holyoak cut his teeth in a two-piece band in the Sydney garage rock scene, honing his song craft and performance, and gaining a passion for recording and production. Since a leap-of-faith move from hometown Sydney to Berlin two years ago, Holyoak has pursued this new direction as a producer and fostered an obsession with the sounds of R&B and electronic music.
Holyoak’s swiftly developing, self-produced work suggests the synthetic soundscapes of musicians such as James Blake and Thom Yorke with an undertone of the organic warmth of the nostalgic, à la Tame Impala, Temples and Still Woozy.
Holyoak’s newest single “Sit Tight” showcases the Australian-born artist’s distinct blend of R&B, electronic pop and psychedelic rock.
Connect With Holyoak Online Here: WEBSITE
Learn more about Holyoak in the following All Access interview:
So what has this past year been like for you and your music? How are/did you get through the pandemic? Are things opening up now where you are? How do you feel about that? Did you get vaccinated yet?
I think the past year has been extremely strange for everyone. Particularly for people who work in any kind of industry that revolves around number of people coming together! As it was for a lot of people, there were some pretty weird months in there for a while in terms of mental health. “lock-downs” are not a fun thing to be doing and certainly give you too much time to think and get stuck in a rut. I do feel extremely lucky to have been able to survive, financially being able to work remotely on various project, and socially through a huge range of life saving distractions including of course recording and writing a huge amount, but also computer games (which aren’t usually my thing), online poker on skype with friends, movie nights on the floor in the kitchen with my girlfriend, a million zoom calls, and jogging as much as I can make myself! Thankfully I’ve already had one of two vaccinations and things are currently improving quickly here in Berlin, just in time for Summer to hit and super charge everyone’s energies!
Let’s talk about your newest track, “Sit Tight.” What was the inspiration for it? How would you say that it compares to anything else you have put out before?
The original inspiration for “Sit Tight” was as simple as me getting impatient waiting for my girlfriend too arrive at my place. That odd mix of anticipation and excitement of seeing someone you are falling in love with, mixed with the childish annoyance at being made to wait. I think this song really opened my eyes to the power of simplicity in terms of chorus melodies, I had more than 10 different version before this with different choruses, that were all more complex / less simple. In the end this one just clicked immediately – a real lightbulb moment realizing that the swagger of the song was coming from the instrumentation and it was ok to have simpler, deeper, vocals to allow the song to breathe! I think it’s for sure more in your face and pop than anything else I’ve released. Having the confidence the confidence to be quite direct in terms of pop-focused song writing has taken a long time – wanting to make something that is simultaneously unique and accessible has always been my aim and I’m getting closer for sure.
Will you be making a music video for “Sit Tight”? Do you already have an idea in mind for it?
This is still up in the air for sure, pandemic restrictions took anything larger scale off the table for a while but I’m considering doing a live video for it now – there are some incredibly interesting locations here in Berlin, old factories, crematoriums, forests, that I’d love to do a live video at.
Do you have plans to release more new music soon and a full album of new songs?
An EP is in the works for sure, I’ve already got several songs in mind but picking the absolute best to share with the world is always a challenge. For me for some reason I’ve always dreamed of making an album in one go – like getting away from everything and making the whole album in one cohesive chunk, so that is a longer term project
I am curious to know how moving from Sydney to Berlin affected your music or really who you are as a musician? Do you think that you will live there for awhile?
Although I tried to resist it at the start, the electronic music scene here has definitely had an influence on my music in terms of sound. The creative scene here in general is incredible, there are artists from every discipline and genre from all over the world, looking to share and help each other. Being able to meet so many new and diverse people, some of whom I’ve worked on music with, is a huge privilege. Also, the move here, away from a steady job, friends, and family was difficult but purposely an opportunity to re-dedicate myself and that has been hugely helpful, learning to work regularly on different areas of writing, recording, singing, mixing etc. I can imagine being here for a long time but who knows!?
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be a musician? What do you think motivates you day in and day out to continue this path?
For some reason I remember buying the White Stripes album “White Blood Cells” and being blown away that music could pull me totally away from the “real” world and excite me in a way nothing else can. My motivation comes from a firm (and potentially misguided) belief that if you work hard enough for long enough and ANYTHING you can get very good at it.
If you weren’t an artist today, could you see yourself doing anything else? What is something else interesting/funny you are good at?
I’m actually already mixing and producing for other artists so I think that would for sure be a close second! I love translating other people’s visions for an audience almost as much as I love coming up with my own. Although I find it near tough to do for myself I’m actually not a bad marketer, which I’m not sure is a good thing!
What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music your career? What has been an unexpected or welcome challenge to it all?
The biggest surprise how LONG everything takes. I think everyone begins with an idea of pumping out songs and releasing but the whole process, including the writing and production that I do on my own always take several times longer than expected – but I think that comes along with forming a better and more specific idea of the sound you’re chasing. The most welcome challenge has been improving my voice. A few years ago I realised all my favourite singers were technically very good and I had a long way to go. So I released I needed to practice, just like any instrument, every day. It’s not very rock-n-roll but it makes a huge difference, given enough time.
What do you think of the power of social media? How active are you on it all? Do you enjoy or have trouble keeping up with it all?
I think the social media can of course be an awesome tool for artists of all kinds if you can cut through the extreme amount of content available. I love sharing what’s happening in my world but that’s been a little harder in the past year with the pandemic. I didn’t want to be the 78th banana bread post of the day in someone’s feed!
At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from your music?
I hope people hear a texture they might not have heard before, get sucked in to a little cryptic story, and feel something that pulls them out of whatever thought spiral is happening in their heads at that moment.