Holly Kirby is a 19 year old singer-songwriter from the Isle of Wight, England.
Holly's beloved island home has a fantastic musical history. Most famously, of course, it provides the setting for the Isle of Wight Music Festival. At its peak in 1970 it was the largest musical festival in the world (surpassing Woodstock). Holly appeared at the Isle of Wight festival this year playing her Luna "Lady of Shalott".
If only one word could be printed on Holly's business card, that word would have to be "poet". Her lyrics and sense of rhythm reveal a deep love of language and meter. It is fitting that she should choose the Lady of Shalott as her main instrument.
Holly has this to say about her Luna. "Just before my 18th birthday, my parents asked me to choose a present that held a special meaning for me. When I spotted the Luna Fantasie "Lady of Shalott" guitar I knew it was what I'd been looking for. I've always loved Waterhouse's painting and the poem that inspired it was by Tennyson, who lived on the Isle of Wight where I live. I'm also a huge Loreena McKennitt fan and love her interpretation of the poem, so that was another reason I was drawn to the guitar. I'm so pleased with my Luna - I love the way it looks, it feels lovely to play and is a great talking point wherever I perform. "
Holly's music is self-described as mainly pop/celtic/folky and she both sings and accompanies herself on guitar, piano, ukulele and Appalachian Dulcimer. Her influences include Enya, Loreena McKennitt, Joni Mitchell, Sandy Denny, Amy MacDonald, Texas/Sharleen Spiteri, and Dido. That being said, Holly's tastes are extremely varied. She adds, "At my gigs I cover songs by artists such as Sam Sparro, The Rolling Stones, The Cranberries, Amy MacDonald, Blondie, Eurythmics, Dido, Suzanne Vega…and I also love Ultravox, Nena, The Supremes, Loreena McKennitt, The Carpenters, Jeff Buckley, ATB, ELO, Mozart, Verdi, Grieg…I love music that makes you feel something and takes you away from the real world for a time…"
Holly writes, performs and produces her own music videos. You can see some of them she has produced in the last three years on her YouTube music channel which totals over a million views and has around ten thousand subscribers.
For all of you aspiring songwriters, here are a few pointers on Holly's songwriting process:
1. Firstly I have to be feeling really really strongly about something. Sadness, disappointment, happiness, excitement, passion...(note the more negative feelings came first in that list - they're generally easier to write about. For me it's because I'm more inclined to keep all of the negative feelings inside, and writing a song is a bit like writing a letter telling someone about your feelings - but with more emotion - and you don't have to send it to feel better!)
Yes, so - I have to have a really strong feeling about someone, something, a certain situation or the way someone has made me feel. I'm getting to the stage now where I have a really strong feeling and then I absolutely have to write a song - otherwise it feels like I'm going to explode!
2. After having the really big feeling I fiddle about on the guitar and find a chord sequence/plucking style that I think connects with the style I want to try to convey in the music.
3. After that I literally just sing along to the chord sequence - using the first words that come into my head. After I have a whole verse and a chorus I just find more words to fit the pattern that I have already used.
It's a very natural kind of process. A song is really just a tiny bit of inspiration that has been developed into a few minutes worth of music.
It's like a journey through a dark tunnel really. The only light you have is the flame that made you passionate enough to want to write the song - and it carries you forward, but sometimes takes you off on a detour.