Growing up is a painful and lonely thing. When you’re overloaded by work and stressed out about life, could no longer catch up with the old friends and late night parties, it gazes into your bones. Continuing the storyline from her debut album Falling Asleep At The Wheels, Holly Humberstone has announced her upcoming sophomore album The Walls Are Way Too Thin set to release on Nov 5. From the familiarity into the unknown, making initial steps in the early adult years, the album dives deep into the feelings and changes we all are too familiar with.
In the becoming, growth is always accompanied by nostalgia. Like the ghosts that linger in the past memories, “Haunted House” is a tribute to a significant chapter of Humberstone’s life. Written shortly after the death of her grandparents, “Haunted House” was all about the memories and the undescribable pain and raw reaction one experienced to change. Moving to London and making it on her own for the first time, the title track “The Walls Are Way Too Thin” released recently revolves around the tiny, awful, moldy apartment where the first wave of depression and loneliness hit. From that point, “Please Don’t Leave Just Yet” tackles the dependency we started to develop as a way to escape.
Holly Humberstone is an artist that catches you off guard with her brutally honest, almost transparent lyrics coming straight from its core. In an swirling indie pop aesthetic, the artist creates something tangible and introspective. Like looking into a mirror, they can be as hypnotic as they can be and entertaining as they can be, but when you finally let them in, there was a moment of shock that just how much it hits you. Right on the missing bone you have long forgotten.
“Quite a lot of times, I don’t know where my mind is at on a certain subject before I write.. It got clearer in my mind in the process. That’s why all the songs are so personal. I was just trying to figure out how I’m feeling about stuff. Maybe that’s why people are connecting to it. I’m not writing anything particularly unique. I’m not going through anything others aren’t going through. We are all in similar situation, going through the exact same changes and weird stuff right now. Universal things, that’s why people are connecting to it.” said the artist herself.
Written by Katrina Yang
Press Q&A with Holly Humberstone
Q (RISING ARTISTS BLOG): Revolving around the theme of feeling lost could you elaborate on how the songs are related to the theme collaboratively and individually?
HOLLY HUMBERSTONE: It made sense for “Haunted House” to be the first song from the EP because the first EP I released was written in my childhood house where I grew up. All the songs were written about the experiences I had there. The videos were old films there. That project just came straight from that place. It just made sense that the first song of the next chapter to be “Haunted House” because it’s about leaving it.
I remember writing it. I just had a difficult summer where you lost your grandparents — all those cute old people in your life and you started to see everyone less and less because people are hard to hold down. I’m a really nostalgic person and I hate changes. I just felt very sad about leaving the house. It was a very old house and I’ve been living there since I was two. It was all I could remember about my childhood. The house is definitely haunted. I never come across any ghost before, but my friend Scarlett’s mom, who is clairvoyant and can interact with the other side would say it’s so haunted, I could sense the stuff every time when she’s around. Even though I thought I should be scared, it was still the safest place for me. I was just so scared at that moment. It was where my memories are. My parents are moving really soon. I still can’t think about it too much. The house is literally falling down because it’s so old. The song is just about leaving it and not being sure if it’s going to be there in a few years or not. I remember it was my first day back. I had a really emotional time up in North West where my grandma used to live. I lost her a few months before I wrote the song. It was the first time I came to London to write. I felt so raw and run out, and everything sort of came together at once. It was such an important song for me to write. “Haunted House” is a tribute to my childhood and to the house, and to moving on because change is sad sometimes but also necessary.
“The Walls Are Way Too Thin” was the next one. I moved to London and lived in a really houseshare where I didn’t know the people I was living with very well. I knew them through a few mutual friends. It was awkward, passing each other in the corridor and having to make small talk. When I came home, there would be someone in the kitchen and you have to make conversations, but all I wanted to do was to make dinner and eat in my bed. I feel like most people experienced the same thing. the house I was living in was falling down as well. I remember moving in. There was the moldy fridge, stained mattresses. It was really gross. I just remember the whole being a situation for me where everything was so new and I didn’t have my friends or my sister there for me to feel safe again. I remember being in that tiny little flat, hearing all the chaos going around me and shutting myself in the room. Sometimes it was easier to do that than facing what’s going on on the outside. It’s my first experience being an adult, living on my own, trying to navigate things. I never really saw my friends. For some reason, it made the most sense for me to make it the title track of the EP. It really sums up how I feel the whole time writing the EP, being lost in a strange, alien place.
“Please Don’t Leave Me Yet”– I found that when I was living in London, I was getting on the train quite a lot. Escaping London and visiting my friends. I really didn’t write that song about one specific person. I just found it extra appreciative my friends and boyfriend at that time because at the moment they left, I knew it was going to be so terrible. You know how it feels to be on your own and you know the moment they go, you have to face that kind of thoughts again. It’s a song about being dependent over someone else for your own happiness. I don’t feel like that anymore, but I feel like everybody knows how that feels and have been through the same sort of things. Just feeling unstable and not really sure who you are.
“Scarlett” just came out. I wrote about my best friend who was going through a breakup. It’s the only one that’s not about being lost but security on your own — you kind of feel like you don’t need that other person to make you whole. It’s the least pathetic song on the EP.
Q (TONITRUALE): One of the most striking generalities of your music is your vulnerability and how far it can go with introspection at a point that it feels like reading someone’s diary without permission. When you sit down to write a song, do you need an emotional trigger or do you see it more like a task?
HUMBERSTONE: When I sit down and try and plan it, I don’t tend to get anywhere. For me, music has always been a sort of comfortable space. My writing space is the one place where I can really go to and say and write whatever I want. I guess that’s why my music is personal. I really do need to get it out most of the time. I have a busy mind, so for me, writing a song put everything in a simpler format and let me process things and work through it, thinking about how I really feel. Quite a lot of times, I don’t know where my mind is at on a certain subject before I write.. It got clearer in my mind in the process. That’s why all the songs are so personal. I was just trying to figure out how I’m feeling about stuff. Maybe that’s why people are connecting to it. I’m not writing anything particularly unique. I’m not going through anything others aren’t going through. We are all in similar situation, going through the exact same changes and weird stuff right now. Universal things, that’s why people are connecting to it.
Q: Your music talks about Are you comfortable with the transparency all along or do you get used to it more slowly?
HUMBERSTONE: Honestly I didn’t think about it before I released the song. I can’t really filter myself in my music. I can only be completely honest. I don’t really dig it too much once I had written the song and just waiting for it to be released in a few months, and once it came out. It’s really exposing for me. After a while, I just think we’re all going through the same stuff. No one is going to be shocked or surprised by what I’m saying in my music. I also think it’s important, to be honest, transparent. That’s true to me and that’s how I feel most authentic, and people are going to connect to it the most.
Q (THE MUSIC ROOM): What’s in your music have you been most proud of achieving so far?
HUMBERSTONE: There are no quite other feelings you get after you finish a song. You feel a real weight off your shoulder and how it’s going to connect to other people. You can’t force creativity. If you set up a time, I can’t create nor write. I don’t have the stuff to write every day. When I do, stumble upon a really good song. Nothing can really feel as good as that moment.
Q: If you didn’t become a musician, what would you be doing?
HUMBERSTONE: It’s always the only thing I’ve felt I really loved doing. Maybe dancing? But I was never that good. I was only good when I was really flexible but when I went through puberty, I couldn’t do anything anymore. I don’t even remember sitting down and wanting to stop writing songs. It has always been such a big part of my life because of my parents again they had such a great music taste. It’s all I wanted to do really, but I don’t know. I like history and art. I’m definitely not good at mathematical things. I’d probably be doing something creative. I honestly have no idea. I felt like I lived to do this. I feel really lucky that I get to do this.
Q (WRVU): What would you describe your songs in three words?
HUMBERSTONE: I feel like it would be…brutally honest; moody; funky.
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