Meet Hollie Col, who creates beauty with an acoustic take of her single She Knows
After sharing the original song as her first for 2020, the Sydney artist now strips it back to its most potent and brilliant.
Sydney-based musician Hollie Col has come a long way since we first met. Back then, she was a bright-eyed addition to New South Wales' indie-pop world who at the time, was moving towards the release of her debut EP Hazel, which would arrive later in 2018. She's blossomed ever since, with single after single furthering her sound into guitar-backed pop that really feels like the beginning of a new star, while on the live stage, she's become a heavyweight through sell-out headline shows and support slots for The Rubens and Dan Sultan alike.
She started her 2020 by embracing the pop core of her work with a new single titled She Knows, which initially, was meant to prelude international touring and festival slots that would extend Hollie Col into the upper echelon of Australia's indie-pop world. By now, we know that this couldn't have possibly gone ahead with what ended up happening this year, but that doesn't mean she's slowing down. Instead, she's been focusing on ways to evolve beyond the live realm - recording new music, diving into new influences, discovering new means of her getting her stuff out there - and now, we're seeing it come to fruition.
A recently-arriving acoustic take on She Knows is a gift, both in the literal sense - it's a moment of appreciation for those that have stuck by her across a turbulent few months, which didn't go to plan as if she'd planned - and in a metaphorical sense too, showcasing the presence Hollie Col has as a growing musician finding her feet within this indie-pop sound. She's really a gift in herself, and while everything she's put out over the last few years has certainly shown that, the new, stripped-back take on She Knows presents it at its most intimate and subtle, with nowhere to hide.
The acoustic live take of She Knows plucks away the upbeat pop backbone that she so heavily embraced on the initial single, instead focusing in on the single's honestly and personal touches that make it such a potent listen. It's really just her, her storytelling, and a guitar leading the way - and there's something remarkably special in that. It brings the lyrics and everything captured within it - the themes, the lyrics - to the centre, where they can't be ignored. The end result is pained and haunting, reflecting on bad decisions and the pain that comes alongside them.
"She Knows is a letter to the person who has the one you love," she says. "It screams 'you'll never know her like I do, and she knows it.' It’s about mistakes, regrets and realising what you’ve lost a little too late."
You can take a dive into it below, and do so while you introduce yourself to Hollie Col as she prepares for an exciting year ahead - it's the least she deserves after how turbulent 2020 has been for someone we were so sure was gonna make the year her own.
Tell us about yourself?
I absolutely suck at this question. My first thought is, I love cats (which probably says a lot). But beyond that, I’ve loved music since I can remember - both making and listening to it. I tend to gravitate towards super sad songs, even when my life is absolutely great (lol). I’m a big fan of playing sport and being outside. I adore sunny days, they make me feel immediately a million times better. I’m a sucker for peppermint tea and a solid documentary. My bedtime is ridiculously early for someone in their 20’s and I have recently discovered a new but very strong love for frisbee.
What’s the ‘vibe’ music-wise?
Well, I write about girls a lot (lol). I’m in love with storytelling. I think no matter how you dress a song, the story is so important.
Vibe-wise, I feel like I’m in a really exciting transition towards a more indie-pop/rock sound. I have a natural tendency to write bright, sunny melodies but I’m also super inspired by bands like HAIM and Fleetwood Mac, and nostalgic production, so lately I’ve been moving towards a blend of all of those influences. I’m super pumped about the songs I’ve been writing and am recording very soon.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
I’ve recently starting writing in studio with producers, which has been a super interesting change for me. When I write alone, it’s usually built around a chord progression or finger-picking melody I play around with on my guitar. It’s a really instantaneous and almost subconscious process. It’s been really cool to also start writing in studio. I feel like there is more freedom in exploration of new sounds and production. I don’t have to start writing on a guitar, it can be a bass line or a drum beat. It has definitely changed my music.
Can you tell us about the acoustic version of She Knows you have coming out?
The acoustic version is definitely more exposing and raw. It really is this unguarded admission of regret and mistakes and ultimately an acceptance that you may never love someone the way you loved that person, knowing they’ve moved on. I really wanted to undress all the glitter in the original version and let people focus on the story.
And how about the original track, can you tell us a bit about its meaning?
The original version is this loud, bright and upbeat admission of love. It’s ultimately a letter to the person who has the one you love, and it screams, where the acoustic whispers “I still love her and you’ll never know her like I do”. It’s almost thrilling to indulge in an admission so bold.
What does the rest of 2020 have in store for you?
Lots and lots of writing! I’m working on the next chapter of my music, and everything that comes with that. I love creating a new feel and style with every release of mine, particularly with visuals and music videos. I definitely feel like what I’m working on for next year is the most exciting stuff yet. But for now, that means a lot of writing, recording and planning!
What do you want people to take away from the project?
I think there is an honesty and universality in vulnerable feelings of love and loss and I hope this song gives people something to hold on to if they’re navigating those feelings. Or (if they’re like me) and they love to indulge in stories of heartbreak every now and then, I hope they can sing along and live in that feeling for a few minutes.
Where can we find more of your music?