Saturday, April 10, 2021

Holly Humberstone wants her lyrics to be tattoo-worthy

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When the 21-year-old sits down to write her emotionally-captivating pop songs, she doesn’t just want them to be memorable. She wants them to be indelible.

“When we were writing, we said that if a lyric isn’t painfully honest and really brutal, then it can’t be on the song,” she says.

“That’s what I for: If it doesn’t look like a really dodgy, tattoo-on-the-arm lyric, then it doesn’t go on.”

So far, no-one’s actually inked one of her songs onto their wrist (“obviously I’m doing something wrong,” she laughs) but it won’t be long.

Humberstone’s sparse arrangements and effortless vocals focus your attention on those lyrics – a mixture of acutely-observed detail and conversational asides.

Born in Grantham, Lincolnshire, she was encouraged to be creative by her parents – both doctors – who banned TV in the house so she would make up songs from poetry books.

While she was still at school, she uploaded songs to her local BBC Introducing show, and made her radio debut a week later. That led to an appearance at Glastonbury, where she was spotted by Lewis Capaldi – who invited her on tour at the start of 2020.

Although Covid ruined her for the rest of the year, she’s amassed more than 65 million streams for her debut EP, and has just come second on the BBC’s Sound Of 2021 – which aims to the most exciting new music for the coming year.

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