Holly is a KwaZulu-Natal based musical powerhouse. This Durban teen is already an experienced singer-songwriter, live performer and studio session regular with a penchant for soulful, deep house and dance music. She sings in both English and Isizulu. We interviewed her to find out more about her.
What is your music background?
I started playing the guitar at 9 and studied music to Grade 3 on the drums. I also learned to play the Marimba while at school in the Midlands. When I left boarding school and came home to attend school in Durban, I formed a band with some of Durban’s Jazz Musicians and I think that is when I really started to enjoy the creative process of making music, collaborating and working with other musicians.
What/who first inspired you to get into music? Who was your first favourite band?
My Uncle is a great percussionist and a flamenco guitarist. I grew up without a father and in the early years of my life he was a big influence on me. When he was studying under Stavros Leandros, he would spend hours practicing and I think it had a huge impact on me.
I think the first artists I can remember really falling in love with were David Gray and Joss Stone, but I also listened to a lot of stuff like Miriam Makeba, Lighthouse Family, Paul Simon (Graceland ft Ladysmith Black Mambazo).
Strange music choices for a kid, but I guess I listened to whatever my Mom was playing in the car on the long trips to boarding school and back.
What/who are your biggest musical influences?
In terms of the South African music industry, I am really inspired by Mafikizolo, Black Coffee, Culoe do song, Miriam Makeba and Busi Mhlongo.
What made you first realise you wanted to pursue a career in music?
I don’t think there was any one thing or a day where I decided I wanted to pursue a career in music. It has been a journey of becoming who I am and music is a massive part of that.
Who handles your daily business activities? (Bookings, promotions etc.)
At the moment SJ Agencies is handling my PR. I am signed to Content Connect who handles my digital distribution, but I pretty much self-manage because I am involved in a lot of projects and I need to be hands on to keep the lines of communication clear. I find it easier to self-manage.
Has your stage name always been Holly?
Yes it has always been Holly. I used to use my name and surname (Holly Wasserfall), but I found my surname was too much for most people to handle. So Holly it is. A couple of people have suggested that I call myself Holly Waters but I think that would be weird.
What are your fondest musical memories?
I think my fondest memory of music would be dancing with my mum to the likes of Macy Gray, David Gray and Lighthouse family. I think in terms of the music industry it would be getting to collaborate with people I am a huge fan of like Professor, Shota, Cuebur and the Mahotella Queens.
What do you hope to achieve as an artist? What do the next five years look like for you?
It is really important for me to use music and the platform it creates to raise awareness about things I am passionate about. I am particularly passionate about education and challenges like poverty, unemployment and abuse. I am also really excited to be working on a project in the fashion industry. The next five years involve launching a fashion label with Carol Clark, building on my project with The Style Collective SA, recording a new album in 2016 and collaborating with more artists. I also want to travel and play music throughout the African continent followed by getting into the European market.
I need to constantly remind myself that I am only 20 and I need to pace myself.
I want to achieve a hell of a lot before I am 25, but as far as music goes; I want to build something that has longevity and to constantly evolve and reinvent myself.
Your latest music video “Khula” is available to stream on YouTube. What is this music video about?
Holly- “Khula” was written by Durban Afrohouse artist and produced by Gauteng based Producer, Cuebur. The music video stars The Bayete Elephants rescued from a cull and hand raised and cared for by the Bayete Rangers. It also features a group of Burundi Refugee drummers living in South Africa. On this track, the fans get to experience my unique vocals and my ability to capture the essence of simplicity.
“Khula” sends a simple yet beautifully powerful message through Holly’s velvet delivery of tender vocals. The track comes off Holly’s debut album Vanilla House which was released in 2014 under Content Connect Africa. Be sure to follow Holly on Facebook and Twitter and buy the album here.