Holly Golightly happy to live in the past
Given her stage name, it’s no surprise that Holly Golightly’s musical tastes tend toward the retro. After joining all-girl garage band Thee Headcotees (a sort of offshoot to garage-rock maven Billy Childish’s Thee Headcoats) in the early ’90s, the U.K.-based singer-songwriter released her first solo album in 1995, leading off a steady stream of country- and blues-tinged releases through to 2005.
Then, in 2007, she teamed with Texas musician Lawyer Dave to form Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs, a lo-fi rockabilly duo that sounds more old-time Nashville than Swinging London. Their third album, this year’s Medicine County, continues along the road paved by their previous efforts, still focused on a time when voices — not Auto-Tune — made real music. From bluegrass and gospel to rockabilly and soul, Golightly and Dave share the microphone on the majority of their songs, infusing the album with a splendidly out-of-time charm and intimacy.
Proving she’s not entirely focused on living an analog lifestyle, Golightly spoke with WE via Skype, checking in from an Atlanta hotel room on her current tour.
There’s a stronger country tinge in the Brokeoffs than in your solo material. Did you have a desire to explore that more thoroughly?
Golightly: No. Everything I’ve ever done, there’s always been country songs. Well, they might not have ended up on the album as a country song, due to the treatment as a production, but they started out as a 12-bar country song or a blues song, and were then just elaborated on during the recording process. Whereas with the two of us, we have to be more sparse, and it’s also our common reference point.
What are some of the uncommon reference points?
Dave likes the rock, and I don’t. I lean far more to old R&B;and soul music. I would certainly not sit home and listen to metal...and Dave would. (Laughs)
The two albums before Medicine County took just four and five days to record, respectively. Did you go for broke and do six days this time?
Well, we didn’t record it all in one go this time. We borrowed a church and recorded some there, and brought it back to our studio at home. It took longer just by virtue of the fact that there were a lot of logistical things we had to factor in. (Laughs) It took about two weeks, so it’s an opus, you might say.
You’ve toured North America a number of times. What are some of the main differences here versus the U.K.?
Well, in the U.K., it’s certainly not the music-maker it once was, unless it’s a certain kind of music. They like... well, they like whatever they like. I don’t even know what it is, actually. In mainland Europe, the main difference is they have a very healthy network of clubs and a long-standing record of hospitality — they make you feel you’re welcome wherever you go. In North America, there’s that network, and we go back to certain clubs and are friends with the promoters. But I think geographically, because everything’s so far apart, bands go round and round all year. Because it’s so vast, people get a bit spoiled for choice. You know that if you don’t get to see a band one time, they’re going to be around again, so it affects numbers.
You’ve been in the music business almost 20 years. Have you always felt supported by the industry, regardless of gender politics?
I’ve never felt that I’ve had any advantage or disadvantage because of my gender. I think I probably get away with being more pissy sometimes with promoters — like, you know, if a band did that, they would probably get in a fist fight. I don’t really feel like I’m part of any machine or industry where that really should figure. Do you know what I mean? Like, I know that it does — of course it does — because the people who are pulling the strings are fat bankers in skyscrapers, and they’re not women, for the most part, and I’m well aware of that. I just plow on because I don’t give a shit what people think of me, which would be the case whether I was male or female. I don’t care whether they like me or not... You know, anyone who plays music is up their own arse. (Laughs)
Holly Golightly & the Brokeoffs play Wednesday, Apr. 21, at the Media Club (695 Cambie), 8pm. Tickets $20 from Ticketmaster, Zulu, Red Cat, and Highlife.