Hollie Smith has linked up with Rwandan-Kiwi hip hop prodigy Raiza Biza on her new single What About. That’s right, one of Aotearoa’s most iconic voices has made her soul-stirring return!
The track heralds Hollie’s new album Coming In From The Dark, out October 22nd, and is the perfect sonic marriage between melancholic gospel and heady hip hop. This seriously hits different.
The two talents weave together as Hollie probes and interrogates with her all-powerful vocal prowess and Raiza adds contrasting lyrical jabs in a track that almost viscerally bleeds with heartache and regret.
We sat down with Hollie to talk about her moving new single, medieval orgies and lockdown anxiety.
Hi Hollie! Absolutely loving your new single What About, it’s such a soul-stirrer! Can you tell me a little about what inspired you to write it?
Thank you! It’s one of my favourites. I guess it’s around giving and sacrificing everything you’ve got & wondering why when you realise it’s not going to be reciprocated.
How did working with Raiza Biza come about?
I’ve been a fan of Raiza’s for quite a while now and during the process he was on Twitter wanting more guests on his album (Summer In Retrograde) to which I happily obliged. Not long after, I had finished recording What About and was looking for another element to add to it. Turned out he was a perfect fit.
I know you have also worked with the amazingly talented Teeks on your up-coming album Coming In From The Dark, are there any other Kiwi or Australian artists you’d love to collaborate with? Or anyone who really inspires you?
I am a massive fan and currently addicted to the new Hiatus Kaiyote & adore NaiPalm. Would be keen to do something with Marlon Williams at some point. JessB is also epic. Man, there’s heaps. Spoilt for choice here in Aotearoa at the moment! Some really good music coming out to be inspired by.
You self-produced, directed and starred in your last video for Coming In From The Dark. This time there’s a big team behind the What About clip! What’s the concept behind this new video?
Ha. Yes. Well the first video was a bit of a joke to be fair. I was running late on the visuals for it so I decided to take things into my own hands & try do something personal… with a little humour in the ‘Making Of’ video.
I’m really lucky in that a couple of close friends of mine, wife and husband Claire and Jake Mokomoko started a production company called 10 Canaries. They’ve done some short films but wanted to have a play with music videos, which obviously I was more than happy to let them!
They’ve been epic, this one came together really quick and choreographed on the spot by dancers, Bianca Paine and Ollie Curruthers. They created the idea of the Protagonist entering and creating a visual push/ pull of emotions.
Claire and Jake have also done a video for another single, YOU, which if you’re into medieval orgies you should check it out.
What about your creative process? How does a Hollie Smith song come to life?
Hmmm. With a serious amount of procrastination! Normally playing around with chords, establishing vocal melody over the top and then agonising over lyrics. This time around I took it to a couple of mates and bossed them around for a few days to establish the arrangements, as I had limited time with my band in Wellington for pre-production. We had about five days in studio. My boys are amazing are everything they touch is gold so I’m super lucky. Darren Mathiassen on drums, Johnny Lawrence on bass and Daniel Hayles on keys.
How are you holding up in Aotearoa’s current lockdown? What is a day in the life of Hollie Smith looking like right now?
This one's been a bit tougher to be honest. I have some anxiety about the release so not being able to keep busy doesn’t help! Finding it hard to focus on being creative with new stuff until I can release this one!
However, I have been really, really strict on myself and have been doing two exercise classes a day, one in the morn and one in the arvo, plus a run with the dog. This is unheard of from me, but if I tick even just those two things off I’m allowed to do whatever else with no pressure. Also doing some Zoom teaching for a Uni here, which can help with brain function!
I’m so excited to hear the full album, the first two tracks have been so moving, can you tell me anything more about what to expect?
Wow. I’ve been sitting on this for what feels like forever, so I have no idea what it may sound like to anyone else’s ears! There’s a mix of stuff in there and I think some of my best song writing so I’m hoping people like it.
Thanks for the support.