EP Walkthrough: Holly Humberstone breaks down her debut, Falling Asleep At The Wheel
The rising UK musician is someone who come year-end, is sure to be amongst 2020's most brilliant success stories.
Header image by Phoebe Fox.
Over the last few months, Holly Humberstone is someone who has made their presence known. Despite the turbulent chaos of 2020 - let alone its effects on the music industry specifically - making it difficult for new artists to arise through the ranks, the UK-based musician has proved that it's not impossible, making the year her own with a string of releases that have littered the new year; each one further pushing Holly Humberstone to the upper echelon of the indie-pop world and what the future of this scene looks like.
In everything that's come out throughout the year, little flashes of Holly Humberstone's brooding, yet versatile brilliance has made itself known. Her debut single Deep End was a raw and potent entrance that brought the core of Humberstone's work to the forefront, that being rich songwriting and a certain level of storytelling that allows her to grab you and pull her into her world. Falling Asleep At The Wheel continued this, but with a bit of an upbeat, electronic pulse moving things along - something unexpected, considering the quite Stevie Nicks-meets-Florence Welch gleam of her debut.
Now, with her debut EP also titled Falling Asleep At The Wheel, Holly Humberstone realises she has a proper chance to showcase herself as a well-rounded and multi-faceted musician, sharing the stories that fuel who she is - and thus, her work too - with an intimacy and honesty that's really hard to find a comparable against, especially from this 'next up' realm of musicians.
It's a collection of six tracks that are interlinked but well separate from one another, moving between different flashes of her sound all connected by this rich emotional intensity and prowess which really shows that Holly Humberstone is someone worthy of the spotlight. A song like the EP's title track moves with a glittery pace that on Drop Dead, is sprawled out into dizzying heights, pinned down by her telling of a relationship and the emotional complexities involved with love. "I wrote Drop Dead about a troubled and manipulative relationship that despite how bad it is, you can't get out, because love can often be blinding," she explains.
Overkill is another example, one that shows her ability to bring moments of her life to the forefront through songwriting, and twist them in a way that allows you to understand the darkness that drives it, but also the moments of hope and happiness that often come alongside and how there's no clear-cut emotional response to anything, something that really shines through Humberstone's detailed journeys. "I wanted to capture all the confusion and anxiety and many weird emotions that come with falling for someone for the first time," she says.
Falling Asleep At The Wheel is really a brilliant moment that allows Holly Humberstone to step forward and bask in the limelight, so take the opportunity to not just introduce yourself to her music, but the stories and details that go into every hook and melody that makes her work synonymous to Holly Humberstone.
Take a dive into the EP below, alongside a track by track walkthrough from Humberstone herself, who breaks down the EP's inner themes and creation one song at a time:
At the time I wrote Deep End, one of my sisters was struggling with her mental health and going through a bit of a tricky time. I feel like everyone knows someone they want to help, and I often find it hard to have awkward/ uncomfortable conversations with people, so this song is basically my way of telling her I’m always there for her and I’ll stick by her even if I might not understand what she’s going through.
Falling Asleep At The Wheel
Writing this track was a bit of a milestone for me. It was one of the first tracks I wrote in the EP and I was still trying to figure out my sound and musical identity. I wrote this track with my mate Rob last summer when we had set up a little home studio at my weird, quirky old house in the countryside. We wrote it and I remember it was the first time I really knew who I was within the music I was making, and I feel like you can kind of hear the wonky sounds of the house within the track.
I remember the day I wrote Overkill so well because it was the fricking best day ever. I was with two of my mates in London and I wanted to write about this guy I had just started seeing and feeling like I was falling for him and wanted to tell him, but was so scared of rejection. I think a lot of people probably know this feeling very well, and I wanted to capture all the confusion and anxiety and many weird emotions that come with falling for someone for the first time.
Drop Dead is about a toxic relationship that you just can’t bring yourself to get out of. Everyone's had that one person that seems to have you wrapped around their finger, and it doesn’t matter how shitty they are to you, it seems like all they have to do is look at you or show you the tiniest bit of affection and you’ll come running right back.
I wrote Vanilla about this silly guy I had been seeing for about two years on and off. My friends and sisters couldn’t work out why I liked him so much because he was a bit of a time-waster and so flaky. I remember really liking the idea of him and then meeting up and it just being sooo awkward and uncomfortable and I’d think it would be different each time but it always ended up being a huge disappointment and a total waste of time. I wrote vanilla just after I decided to never speak to him again heheheeee.
The definition of Livewire is an energetic and unpredictable person. I wrote it about this crazy friend I used to have who used to be the funniest person to hang out with and we’d just do stupid shit and laugh a lot. We were pretty inseparable but you could never really hold them down for long, and for some reason we drifted apart and aren’t really friends anymore. It’s a song about missing that person and the crazy times we had and hoping they’re still as legendary as they were.
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