Hollie Smith on her love-hate relationship with music

Subscribe to Forte Magazine

Hollie Smith on her love-hate relationship with music

The soul singer-songwriter from the depths of New Zealand, Hollie Smith has been making music for more than 20 years, and she is still as fresh, melodic and captivating as ever.

With Hollie’s third and most recent album, Water or Gold, climbing straight to number one in the New Zealand charts earlier this year, she still admits the struggle to make a living as a musician in New Zealand. However, regardless of the struggle, music is where Hollie’s passion really lies, with it been a decade since her first debut multi-award winning album Long Player, which followed with sold out tours, and had her winning NZ music awards including ‘Best Producer’, ‘Best Female Solo Artist’ and ‘Breakthrough artist of the year’, making the starting point of her full-time music career.

“I do love it, it’s so tough now for anyone I think. No one is really making money off music and we are going back to the basics and really having to be strategic about how to do things, it can be a real struggle. When you’ve been doing it so long you just go ‘agh’, gosh you feel like you’re going backwards. But that’s just across the board everywhere in the world, it’s just something you battle through really,” she says.

“For me, it’s more of a love-hate relationship, but it’s a compulsion really. I don’t know if anyone in music can say why they keep doing it, it’s definitely something you just can’t get away from. I have definitely tried at time. You just keep chasing the dream. You keep on searching for the thing that doesn’t exist, but you just feel compelled to try.”

While working as a musician is a sometime difficult, Hollie recognises the current strength of the New Zealand music industry and soul music scene.

“New Zealand’s music industry is incredibly strong at the moment, there’s so many strong artists coming through, like Marlon Williams who I think was up for an ARIA, but he’s a folk singer who has kind of taken on the world. But everyone knows each other and everyone usually tries to support each other because everyone knows just how hard it is to survive here with it been so small compared to Australia.

“In saying that, I’ve never been aware of a really hippy/soul scene over in Australia. I mean there is one and it’s amazing, but comparatively to the other genres of music in Australia that are really strong – there’s probably a lot more room to push it out there I reckon.”

While she has been busy topping charts and touring nationally around New Zealand, Hollie is set to head to Australia early next year for a performance at Port Fairy Folk Festival, and she is ready to bring some soul music to the country.

“I’m very excited about that one. I’ve done a couple of festivals in Australia, but that was all quite a long time ago really so it will be nice to do another festival over there,” she says.

“Any festival is just such a good energy, it’s a whole lot of people enjoying lots of different music and something like Port Fairy has a few different kind of acts in it. It will just be a really fun time with fun things to do.”

Between chatting about pushing through hard times, and reminiscing about her career highlights, singling out a gig in Canada where she performed to 60,000 people in a real ‘magical moment’, Hollie hasn’t got plans to slow down. With the recent release of a Bob Marley tribute album compiled by Hollie and a list of other New Zealand musicians, the strong and determined artist is already writing new music with hopes of a new record in 2018, and has projects lined up for the new year, including Volume 2 of Band of Brothers, a collaborative “underground, urban release”.

At least we know that even when times are tough, Hollie Smith will still be driven to make beautiful music.

When & Where: Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy – March 10 – 13 2017

Written by Talia Rinaldo