DOWN THE TUBE WITH KIERSTEN HOLINE
We are all selfish with our music, but SHK is gonna let you in on a big secret… introducing musician Kiersten Holine.
One day I typed “Bon Iver” into the search box of Youtube. I was in my apartment in Brooklyn, probably a little drunk on some sort of white wine, probably a little lonely, probably writing poems about it. Somehow I went on a journey through channels, and somehow, I stumbled into Kiersten Holine’s room. I have made many visits since. So have thousands of other people. She has shown up on computer screens eight million times. So she’s covering Dylan, Bon Iver, Feist and Neil Young… And you are thinking she has to fuck this up at some point. And she never does.
Her voice is soft and welcoming, the calm before every storm. She ejects the lyrics of others with such fragility that you forget she hasn’t written the songs. Her own songs are little books, chapters of different times in her life. There is an openness with her lyrics and the way she shares her music. It leaves echoes of a hundred different feelings with you for days and you can’t help going back. So you may end up crying. I don’t know what to tell you, it just happens. Maybe you’re going through something. Maybe it’s that kind of day, you spilled your coffee on your new shoes, haven’t heard from that dude from the bar, maybe you’re broke, maybe you’re getting married, maybe you’re the happiest you have ever been in your life. This shit is going to hit you either way. — Emily Marucci
SHK: First of all, I started following you when you were a blonde, so let’s just say — I am a fan.
KIERSTEN HOLINE: (Laughs.) I’ve heard a few other people measure their dedication to my music via hair color. I love that. Thank you so much!
Sometimes you collaborate with other youtube artists (Kevin Echlin — who by the way, I listen to his Fionn Regan covers over and over — How do these come about?
Yeah, how amazing is he? They come about mainly through YouTube networking. A lot of us YouTubers mingle, which I think maybe a good chunk of YouTube browsers are unaware of. That’s how I discovered JT Royster, Jeff Pianki, Kevin Echlin and Colin Caulfield. I found their videos, swooned over the amazing sounds they were putting forth, and had to contact them just telling them how talented they were (are). Conversing with musicians that adore hearing and making music with the core of their being is so inspiring. I can’t help but want to share that with them and work on something together. I love collaboration and I hope I am able to do it for a long, long time.
I discovered artists through your covers, like S. Carey. do you think it’s crazy that people watching you discover new artists, ones that you already admire?
I do think it’s crazy. It’s like offering people a glorified (or just reinvented) version of a mix tape. I’ve always loved making mixes for friends (or boys I’ve had huge crushes on); I guess this is my new way of doing that. I respect, admire and have been utterly inspired by all of the artists I cover. Getting a chance to show others who these brilliant people are and how beautiful their work is… There’s nothing better than that. I thrive on sharing truly great music. Doing that by interpreting it in my own way and sending it out to the masses is a bizarre, but super enjoyable way to do that.
Favorite lyric you have ever written?
My favorite thus far is “I was a name on a page / I was a fix for a phase, a muse for a writers block / A story told of a foregone failure / Heard the click and felt the shot” from “Queen of Hearts Blues.” That segment of lyrics just came out all at once one night. After it happened, I sat back and felt genuinely surprised that my brain would so specifically tap into how I was feeling and pour out lyrics in that fashion.
Favorite lyric ever, ever, by anyone?
That’s so tough. Lyrics have been unbelievably important to me since I was a 13-year-old confused, awkward kid. That’s when I really got into Bob Dylan’s music and he made me fall completely in love with words (especially his). His lyric “He not busy being born is busy dying” absolutely kills me. What a line.
How do you think photography and music relate?
Photos and music alike are expressions that allow listeners and viewers to participate actively in the piece of time the artist is displaying. They are both able to capture a moment in such a stunning and honest fashion. They allow others to be involved so intimately. I adore the connection and don’t think I will ever be able to give up pursuing either.
When did you start playing guitar?
I started playing the summer after sixth grade. My uncle (an incredibly inspiring guitarist) had recently given his guitar to my brothers and I, and I was determined to learn how to play. I started listening to The Beatles at that time and was ridiculously intent on learning “Blackbird” which, I guess, started the whole passion. I’m really thankful to have picked it up at such a young age and had enough determination to not give up.
How would you describe your music?
I would say my music is an attempt to make the female singer/songwriter genre a bit more… raw and honest. I write only about situations I’ve gone through, people I know, and emotions I’ve experienced. I guess my music is an autobiography best heard on a rainy day… when one is okay with taking in the melancholy and candor that comes with my songs.
Favorite record you own at the moment?
Favorite record would have to be Freewheelin’ by Mr. Dylan. But I think “For Emma, Forever Ago” is so amazing (despite whatever vortex it fell into amongst the hype). I was quite influenced by that album’s vulnerability. I don’t think my music would be where it is without it.
Finish the sentence. Youtube is…
Something I’m incredibly thankful for. But also something I think has gotten a bit out of control. It has turned into such a platform and people are going to put out whatever they have to for those extra views. I wish it were more of just a place for people to go to express themselves honestly and whole heartedly as an end and not as a means to an end. I guess I wish the world were like that though. So it goes.
It’s interesting that you never moved to NYC or L.A., is there a reason why not?
I haven’t necessarily wanted to dive into that large, terrifying scene yet. I love Seattle’s music scene. It’s so tight-knit and supportive. I fear losing my way musically if I jumped into NY or L.A.’s music scene. At the same time, I’m more and more tempted every day and think the determination starving artists have in both cities is beautiful. I’m sure it will happen at some point.
Gotta be honest — I listened to you alot when I was sort of lonLey. Do you find that people say that alot?
I have heard that quite a bit and I think it’s fitting. I wrote most (maybe all) of my music when I felt some type of heartbreak or painful growing experience in my life. If I can provide an ounce of comfort to someone who is experiencing something similar to my lyrics… that’s amazing. Through music I’m able to say, “Hey, I’ve been there. It’s awful, I get it. This is how I feel about it.”
I remember Elliott Smith’s music helping me through so many tough times in my life. If I can do that for someone else, I’ve accomplished all I’ve ever wanted to in music. Feels like I’m somehow offering a token of appreciation for the music that got me through those times.
What’s the idea behind the title of your last album, Candescent?
This new album was about a recent phase in my life that consisted of a lot of growing, learning and “thawing out.” I have started to become my own person with my own ideals and understanding through these life experiences. Candescent means glowing with heat. I feel that this person emerging through my music is, in a sense, glowing with a new understanding and individuality.
Today, the day you DO this interview, what is a song to describe today?
Blake Mills’ “Wintersong” is coming to mind. It was sort of a strange day that brought about interesting interactions and happenings. That song has such a tense vibe and a mystery about it that you’re not sure exactly what he means by his lyrics… You can just feel that something is wrong. And that build up to the end with that quick dialogue back and forth. Man. I can relate to that quite well today.
Lastly, can SHK Magazine request a song?
Be my guest!
If you could pick one of these songs for Kiersten to cover, which would it be? Let us (and her) know.
Bon Iver – “Holocene”
Fleet Foxes – “Ragged”
Sarah Siskind – “Lovin’s for Fools”
The Beatles – “Hey Jude”
Fleetwood Mac – “Landslide”
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