I recently had the privilege of interviewing pop/CCM artist and Gotee Records signee Hollyn via email as she released her new self titled EP in October 2015. We discussed her new EP, and what she longs for listeners to hear and obtain when enjoying the collection of 6 new songs. Check out the interview below, and be sure to check out the new EP on iTunes or stream it on Spotify.
Firstly, congratulations on the success of your first EP on Gottee Records. I’m sure it has been quite a journey for you up until this point. What has been the highlight of the last six months?
It has been a journey for sure, but the highlight of these past six months is getting to see the country with my amazing tour family! The community I’m surrounded by is something I’ve always dreamed of having, and I’m blessed to have this opportunity.
This album is a lot of things- worship, rap, hip hop, pop, a bit of nostalgia in the music of “Nothin’ on You” (dare I say I heard a little music riff of “Baby Baby” in the background of that song?). Which style were you comfortable with when making the EP, and which style did you feel brought you out of your comfort zone in a good way?
On the EP, “Nothin On You” and “Steady Me” are the two that come close to my sound I want to get across. “Alone” definitely pushed me out of my box. The rock n’ roll guitars and the attitude of the lyrics allowed me to channel a part of myself that I don’t show often musically. I’d like to have more songs like that one.
It is great to see you on a label that is, I reckon, one of the most underrated in all of Christian music. How is it to create music alongside label mates like Jamie Grace, Ryan Stevenson, Finding Favour and Capital Kings? Other than your own EP, which artist’s music, either from your own label or others, have you listened to lately?
It is a complete honor to be on, in my opinion, one of the best labels around. Gotee takes care and respects their artists wholeheartedly and with humility. Especially when I get to make music alongside amazing artists, it makes my job even better! I’ve always been a fan of Capital Kings, and their new music is so fresh and speaks for a new generation. Alongside of them is Finding Favour and Ryan Stevenson. Love them as people and I’m one of their biggest fans!
“Alone”, a duet featuring TobyMac’s son TRU, is a prayer from us to God as we cry out to him, asking Him not to leave us alone in our despair. What does the song mean for you personally? How was it like recording with TRU, and is there any indication of further collaborations in the future (aside from TRU and TobyMac on “Light Shine Bright”)?
First off, TRU killed it. I’m so happy he agreed to do this track with me and I have a lot of respect for him as a person and an artist. Hopefully we can do more collaborations in the future! This song for me represented the times when I fell back into things I knew I shouldn’t, whatever that might be. I remember those days, and crying out to the Lord to forgive me again for turning my back on His grace. I want this song to be an anthem for others when they go through the same thing. Psalm 51:11-12.
Which song on your EP has made the most impact to your personally and to listeners? If there is one thing that your music has been ministering to yourself over the year, what has it been?
The song on my EP that has had the most impact, in my opinion, is “Alone” because it’s the first single, and has done pretty well so far. It’s relatable and real. People gravitate towards that. Some days I’ll go back and listen to my EP and pretend I’ve never heard it, and it ministers to me in a different way each time. God breathed through these songs and reminds me how much of it is Him and not my doing.
Who do you look up to in the music industry, either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice?
I‘d have to say my spiritual mentor and someone is go to for advice is Toby. My whole team plays a role in who I am and what I stand for, but he has shown me what it looks like to make great music and stay humble. I’m honored to walk under his wing in this industry, and I’m thankful for him and his family. My advice to anyone entering the music industry would be to surround yourself with people who care about you as a person and want to see you succeed. People who share your morals and values, write great songs, and keep your eyes on the King.
Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
I haven’t done many concerts as “Hollyn” up to this point, but I think most songs after a while can feel stale to the artist singing them because they’ve sing them so often. In those moments I remind myself that every show is just as important as the last and to put my all into every performance.
For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
I’ve been spoken down to and discouraged many times, and what I do in situations like that is turn to the word of God and what He says about me. It doesn’t matter what negativity or even praise is spoken about you in the long run, what matters is your heart and what you’re trying to accomplish through your calling.
What keeps you grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and the motivation behind it all?
What keeps me grounded is my community, my friends, my family, and Jesus. I rely on people who hold me accountable and let me know when I’m being stupid. My go to song when I need encouragement is “Keep Singing” by MercyMe and my favorite bible verse is Habakuk 3:2.
What do you do in your downtime- any music that is on your iTunes playlist currently? Any TV shows you are currently binge-watching?
My downtime consists of hanging with my friends, eating great food, watching movies, working out, and just going with the flow. I love anything social and meeting new people (part of the reason why I love what I do so much). My iTunes playlist is a lot of Alabama Shakes, the 1975, Justin Timberlake, current radio hits, and some songs for the new record we’re working on! My go to TV series right now would have to be Fuller House… we started watching it on tour and can’t stop!