Posted On 07 Apr 2017
New York City’s own self-proclaimed ‘rhythmic disciple’, HOLDN has made quite the arrival upon her first step into pop music with her debut single, ‘BURN’. She brings a full plate of emotion and honesty with a sharp-toothed side of unapologetic wit to the pop table, while graciously luring you in with her mysterious aesthetic and soulful, yet haunting, melodies. Hailing from the alt-rock world, she has previously stepped into the spotlight at festivals such as Vans Warped Tour & Skate and Surf Festival and onto stages across the country including Webster Hall, Starland Ballroom, and many more. She is tasteful, yet daring; but also shockingly enough, HOLDN is an ‘alter ego’ who just so happens to be herself in its most revealing form.
Learn more about Holdn in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What are some words you would use to describe 2016 for you and your music? What were some of the highlights? What are you most excited about for 2017?
If I could use one word to accurately depict 2016 for me, it would be “seesaw”. It sounds juvenile, but throughout the entire year, I felt as if I constantly had to try to climb to the top and somehow sit at both ends to even myself out. That was a huge lesson for me. I am one person and I can only split myself into so many pieces before I’d shrivel down into something that just isn’t myself. I decided to start 2017 focusing on keeping myself as whole-heartedly me as possible, and here we are! Things began to come together. I’m most excited to continue to write and release and get to know so many new people through this new venture. We’re off to a good start!
Growing up, did you always want to be a musician? Can you recall your earliest musical memory? Could you see yourself doing anything else today?
I had no idea I wanted to be a musician until I was about 12-13 years old. I originally wanted to be a veterinarian because I love dogs, but then someone told me that I’d have to see them in pain and that concluded that little idea I had going on! I remember my earliest musical memory as if it were yesterday. My pop-pop had an electronic keyboard in his house and he started sitting me on his lap when I was about 3 years old and began to teach me scales on the piano. Now I can’t see myself doing anything else. I’ve tried my hand at some other endeavors, but I find myself coming back to music because it’s what i’m meant to do.
How did you come up with your artist name? Why did you decide to not go by your own name?
HOLDN is an altered spelling of the name ‘Holden’. I had to drop the ‘E’ for legal reasons, but still am lucky enough to be able to have the name pronounced the same. I wanted to give myself an opportunity to start fresh, therefore I decided to not use my own name. Holden is the main character in my favorite book, “The Catcher in the Rye.” In high school, I had such trouble sitting in a classroom, but I had an incredible English teacher who brought not only this book, but writing and creating to life for me. For anyone not familiar, Holden is the main character in the story. In the book, really no other character can relate or has a desire to relate to him. Ironically enough, I’ve found that as readers, most people find themselves relating to Holden the most. I formed a connection realizing that people only want to relate when it’s convenient and doesn’t truly affect them and noticed that so many people in my life only want to be around when things are easy. On that idea, HOLDN was born.
Do you think that living and making music in the city of New York has influenced your sound and ultimately, you as a musician? If so, how exactly?
New York City is my favorite place in the entire world. I haven’t been to Europe. I haven’t really even been across the world. But I’ve been to my fair share of cities and they don’t even hold a candle to the creativity and talent and inspiration that New York holds for me. It’s an electric atmosphere where you can truly feel alone in a crowd of thousands of people every single day, yet also feel united if you choose to. No other city toughens you up quite like New York does. Being in the city has certainly influenced my sound. I’ve found myself writing demos with a more “industrial” sound. I use a lot of sounds that resemble metal clanking or feet pounding on the pavement or camera shutters or anything that you’d hear to put yourself in that city environment.
Later this month, you will be releasing your newest single, “Burn.” Can you talk about how this song came together and what the inspiration for it was?
Yes! I never thought releasing a single song would have me as excited as I am. I’ve worked so hard to bring this song to life so to see it finally be available for everyone to hear is incredible. This song was the result of my first real experience with someone walking out of my life without warning, yet staying close enough to watch me struggle to stand back up. Every time I hear or sing this song, I vividly remember that feeling. It’s something that I feel is extremely relatable whether it’s a relationship, a friendship, a financial burden, or any struggle someone may be going through.
When do you hope to release more new music and a full collection of new songs? Are you currently writing a lot of new music?
I’m hoping to have out a full EP by the summer, but right now I am just rolling with the punches to see where this song takes me. I am constantly writing whether it’s alone or with other artists. ‘Burn’ was chosen out of a batch of just over 100 songs, so the quantity of material is not lacking. It’s just a matter of which songs I’ve written and have yet to write will suit me best.
I have read that HOLDN is an ‘alter ego’ which just so happens to be yourself in its most revealing form. Can you elaborate on what that means to you? How is Holdn the real you?
Over the course of the time I was writing, I realized I became not only more honest with myself, but I became a little less afraid to unapologetically be myself more and more every single day. I broke down the walls that were stopping me from being me and I found that as HOLDN, I am more ‘me’ than I have ever been. It is an ‘alter ego’, but at the same time, it’s a positive transformation.
I understand that you have performed at a ton of festivals lately so I would love to know what show has really stood out to you? What do you think makes a perfect performance for you?
I’ve performed at a few! My favorite festival performance that I have done thus far was Vans Warped Tour. It was really cool to be a part of, but I’m looking forward to having many more incredible experiences like that as HOLDN. If I’m being completely honest, there will never be a perfect performance for me. I am my own worst critic. But other than that, giving my all (which to me is giving everything I’ve got and then some), sounding good, and making sure that the crowd is having just as much if not more fun than I am on stage. All of those things are extremely important to me in a live show.
Who are some of your favorite musicians? What musicians would you love to work with in the future?
Sara Bareilles is the number one artist I’ve always looked up to. The way she’s able to formulate a song and lyrically put you in her very own mental place is so graciously artistic and something I admire. I’d love to work with her one day!
At the end of the day, what do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people take away from your songs?
The message of my music is to un-apologetically be yourself. That’s something that I’m still working on and I know it’s something most people struggle with every day. I want my music to be a safe place for someone to be able to throw on a pair of headphones and get just as lost as I do when I create it. It’s an alternate world for all of us.
Is there anything else that you would like to share with our readers about yourself or your music?
Thank you for checking out something I’ve worked so hard on! If it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be able to continue to make music. Keep in touch with me on all social platforms (@sheisHOLDN) and I look forward to paving this journey with all of you!