Freya Josephine Hollick on the profound influence of Elvis Presley and celebrating his musical legacy
24.05.2022

Freya Josephine Hollick on the profound influence of Elvis Presley and celebrating his musical legacy

Words by Talia Rinaldo

The Australian cosmic country Queen will be taking care of business with an inspired set at Burning Love at Bendigo, celebrating the King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley.

The undisputed ‘King of Rock and Roll’, Elvis Presley left a unique and indelible mark on the American music landscape that endures to this day. From rock and roll, pop, country, and rockabilly, to gospel, blues, and R&B, the singer did it all during his 20+ years of making music, as nobody else before him or since.

An extraordinarily prolific artist, one whose entire body and soul became electric when playing music he loved, Elvis has continued to inspire a number of artists over the years.

From David Bowie, who went on to dedicate his final album’s title and last single to the King of Rock and Roll; to Miley Cyrus, who cited her love of Elvis as a major inspiration behind her album Younger Now, Elvis’ influence can be seen and heard in the performances of countless modern-day entertainers to this day.

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Growing up watching the King on-screen in ‘50s classics like Jailhouse Rock and King Creole, Australian cosmic country Queen Freya Josephine Hollick was exposed to the profound influence of Elvis from a young age.

“I grew up watching the old Elvis films and was absolutely obsessed as a kid,” Hollick explains.

“From when I was a little kid, I listened to Elvis, it was mostly the movie soundtracks from his old films, but as I got a little bit older that love remained. As a teenager, the first thing I owned of his was a vinyl record of his gospel songs, which I just adored, like a really early record. The cover of it’s amazing. It’s like a hand-painted photograph of him with all the sort of religious iconography.

“But Elvis has continued to influence me later in my musical life as well. He’s been a huge influence on my voice, and obviously, I don’t really sound anything like Elvis, but just his singing voice is so unique and polished and amazing. He is just a very inspiring singer.”

Since bursting onto the scene in 2016 with her debut The Unceremonious Junking of Me – a nod to the music of the past – the Ballarat-based artist immediately garnered praise for her unique and captivating voice alongside her sophisticated songwriting.

After releasing her critically-acclaimed second full length album in 2018, Feral Fusion, which saw the regional songwriter blends a number of non-mainstream styles to create something entirely its own, Hollick has continued on the upward trajectory that has seen her being nominated for Best Regional Act at the 2020 Music Victoria Awards, to receiving a significant grant from Creative Victoria to travel to Joshua Tree in California to record an album with Lucinda Williams’ renowned band Buick 6 and guitarist Greg Leisz (known for his work with Beck, Eric Clapton, Aaron Neville, Sheryl Crow among many others). Here they recorded Hollick’s forthcoming third full length album, a record saturated in the sounds of desert rock and cosmic country, inspired by the likes of Ann Peebles, Allen Toussaint and Gene Clark.

Now hailed as part of the latest wave of alt-country, alongside the likes of Kacey Musgraves, Orville Peck, Yola and Colter Wall, Hollick will embody the spirit of the King this June as part of Burning Love at Bendigo, a new contemporary music series celebrating Elvis Presley.

Taking to Bendigo’s historic fire station, the Engine Room, the series will traverse the genres that the King helped to define, with Hollick delivering a soulful take on alternative country music, performing new releases to the tune of her recent single ‘The Real World’, alongside cuts from Feral Fusion, 2017’s ‘Don’t Mess with the Doyenne’ EP and of course her debut album.

Hollick will also join The Burning Lovers on the night as part of their special ‘Elvis Tribute’ set, featuring musicians from Cosmic Psychos, Bluestown Junction, Ramble Town, Benny and the Flybynighters and The Quarry Hillbillies, who have come together for this special series to celebrate the music of the King.

“I will be doing a special Elvis song with The Burning Lovers on the nights so I’m really looking forward to that,” Hollick shares.

“I’ll be performing ‘Always On My Mind’, which is a favourite song of mine. I know that song inside out; I love that song. So we’ll have a quick rehearsal on the day of it and then launch into that for the show.

“As far as our own set goes, it will be a few new tracks and some older songs as well. I’ll have my band there so we’ll have that big five-piece band sound, with some real country rock vibes.

“We’ve been asked to give a performance inspired by Elvis so we’ll be embodying the spirit of Elvis, you know, maybe we’ll dress up, who knows?” she laughs.

With Elvis being an enduring presence in the singer-songwriter’s life for the past three decades, it comes as no surprise that Burning Love won’t be the first time Hollick has celebrated the King through song.

In 2018, Hollick performed as part of ‘Girls, Girls, Girls Do Elvis’. Curated by Tanya Lee Davies, Hollick joined the likes of Loretta Miller, Jemma Rowlands (Clifton Hillbillies) and the beautiful singing tram driver Layla Jean celebrating and salivating all things Elvis.

“I’ve done heaps of tribute performances on and off over the last 10 years or so, usually a lot of country tributes and celebrations. It’s been nice to branch out and do some different things and learn other people’s songs.”

 

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The Burning Love series – named after Elvis’ 1972 hit ‘Burning Love’ – comes off the back of Bendigo’s exclusive ‘Elvis: Direct From Graceland exhibition’, a never-before-seen-in-Australia exhibition that features a wide range of costumes and ultra-cool outfits, vintage memorabilia, and treasured items from Elvis’ beloved Graceland home.

The collection has people flocking to Bendigo from all over the country, giving visitors a sense of both the public and private life of Elvis as well as his enormous influence on popular culture that can still be felt today.

Alongside celebrating the music of Elvis herself, Hollick is excited to explore his profound influence on music, design, art, and pop culture at the exhibition.

“I’ve been saving it for this occasion,” Hollick reveals, “We’re going to stay overnight and do the whole shebang while we’re there.

“I’m excited about playing, but I’m really just as excited to go and see the exhibition. I love playing gigs, but I can’t wait to just like check out all the costumes and read all the little stories.

“It just looks so beautiful, I’m beside myself. I can’t wait.”

Burning Love starring Freya Josephine Hollick will take place at The Engine Room, 58 View Street, Bendigo on Saturday, June 4. Tickets and further information via the Burning Love website

This article was made in partnership with Hear Them Holler and Bendigo Venues & Events.