Tag Archives: q&a

INTERVIEW: Greg Holden Talks About His Musical Progression, Inner Battles, & Upcoming Phoenix Show

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Greg Holden is a British singer-songwriter based in the United States. He is best known for his hit charity single “The Lost Boy”, and for co-writing “Home” — the 2012 debut single for American Idol-winner Phillip Phillips.


Genre: Rock, Singer-Songwriter
Hometown: Born in Aberdeen, Scotland and raised in England
Record Label: BMG
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New Song “On The Run” Out Now

“With a fresh Mumford and Sons style, this New York based British singer-songwriter sings it straight from the heart.” – AXS


Q & A with Greg Holden, Singer-Songwriter

Flier for Butch Walker featuring Greg Holden at Crescent Ballroom on September 7, 2018
Get Tickets

During the small break from his fall tour, between his August 2 performance in London and the following tour date in Phoenix on September 7, Holden took the time to share his thoughts with journalist Emily Rudolph of Burning Hot Events:

Thank you for talking with us! According to your interview with People, you’ve had no intention of leaving New York. I’m curious… Are you currently living in LA after all? If so, can you tell us a bit about how you came to call Los Angeles home? 

Yes, it’s all very ironic I know. I came to LA two years ago with my tail between my legs. My reasoning was that 99% of the people I know and work with were already in Los Angeles, and I really was cutting off my nose to spite my face by not relocating. So I did. I don’t regret it, but I sure do miss New York. I’m not sure that Los Angeles is the right place for me, but I’ve been told by other ex-New Yorkers that it takes 3 years… So I’ll give it another year and then see what happens…

 

What inspired you to relocate from England to Brooklyn, NY?

Music essentially. All the artists that inspired me had all lived in New York in their 20’s, so I wanted to as well. Strangely it didn’t even feel like a crazy thing, quitting my job in London, selling all my shit, and moving to a different continent during a recession. I was just going with my gut, and I’m glad I did. Nearly ten years later I don’t regret a thing.

 

I’ve heard that it all started when you first picked up a guitar at age 18. I’d love for you to tell me more about that journey. What was your musical experience like growing up? What compelled you to begin writing your own music?

I wrote from the moment I started playing guitar. In the beginning I just wanted to write songs so I could get my repressed feelings out in the open. Naturally I started playing in punk and metal bands in my home town, which I did for a few years, before realising that I actually had a half decent voice, and a talent for lyrics too. I was wasting my time in bands. This was at the time when Damien Rice, John Mayer and Ray Lamontagne were the chart toppers, and so the logical next step was to become a solo singer-songwriter.  So I decided to move to Brighton, one of the big cities in the UK that was known for its music scene. After a couple of years I moved to London to really focus on getting “discovered,” and once I wasn’t discovered, I thought fuck it, I’m going to New York, I’ll get discovered there…

 

Could you share with our readers the events that led up to the forming of “Home”? What was the inspiration behind the concept?

The short version is, I had a friend that was going through a very difficult time and was chronically depressed. I was thrown into a co-writing session in Los Angeles on one of my first times there with a guy named Drew Pearson. We decided to write a song about my friend, and that song was “Home”. We wrote it in a couple our hours, easy peasy, and I walked out of the session completely unaware that I’d just written a song that would change my life, and for 6 months I didn’t really even think about it. Then, I got the call from American Idol and the rest is history I guess.

 

Do you feel your experiences with sophomore album, I Don’t Believe You (2011), influenced your later work on massive success, “Home”?

Not really, no. I mean I guess you could say that “Home” is just a more commercially accessible version of songs I’d written in the past, but I Don’t Believe You was quite a dark record, with very little hope. Whereas “Home” is quite the opposite.

 

Your sound has been described as “folk”, “rock”, and even “a fresh Mumford and Sons style”.’ How would you describe your sound to our readers?

I really have no idea to be honest. What even is a genre anymore?

 

What do you feel is the best track that you have produced so far? What does it mean to you?

Probably “The Lost Boy”, just because I recorded in my bedroom in Brooklyn, with one mic, and had no intention of anyone other than my manager hearing it. Somehow that version took on a life of its own and has now been heard by millions of people, a song that I poured my guts into. Since its release it has raised tens of thousands of dollars for charity, has been in the Billboard Charts, been a #1 single in Europe and been featured on major TV shows in the U.S. Still the same, shitty original version, mixed on Apple Headphones at my kitchen counter back in 2011. Despite its simplicity, I’m still more proud of that than anything else I’ve done.

 

Are there any parts of your story that you’d like to share on low points you’ve experienced and how you overcame them? 

I am always experiencing low points. Constantly. Somehow I always find a way out of the hole, but it never stops. That’s the problem when something you love so much, and something that is so reliant on your raw emotions becomes your day job. When I was younger, if I hated my day job, I just got a new one. I can’t do that now, I can’t just apply for new emotions, or new creative skills. The only way to overcome the negative sides of this journey, is to constantly remind myself of the positives, because there are a lot.

 

What do you do to handle doubts or frustrations when they come up?

I drink wine. Or, I look through my Instagram feed to remind myself that my life is absolutely unreal and I am incredibly fortunate. That doesn’t really handle the doubts, or frustrations, but it certainly puts things into perspective, which helps.

 

What advice would you give to someone in the industry who is struggling to move forward?

Don’t give up. The one thing I can guarantee is that if you do, you won’t make it. But, if you stay in the fight, there’s always a chance, even if it’s only a small one.

 

<strong>Greg Holden</strong>
Greg Holden

What have you been working on in 2018? What are you most looking forward to? 

I’ve been working on my mental state mostly, because without that I’m fucked. Musically though, I’ve been trying to refocus my attention on making something I love, and not on what I think other people want. That’s a difficult balance these days, but it’s important to give yourself what you need first, otherwise you can’t offer anything helpful or inspiring to anyone. I’m most looking forward to the last quarter of this year as I’m headed out on tour in the US in September with Butch Walker, then I’m headed down to South America in December to play some shows with my buddy Joshua Radin. Can’t complain about any of that.

 

If you had to summarize your journey to produce your latest single, ‘The Power Shift’ how would you describe it?

An existential crisis.

 

Beyond 2018, what is on the radar for Greg Holden? 

Staying happy, and staying inspired. The rest will come naturally.

 

Is there anything specific you’d like to mention about your upcoming performance in Phoenix?

I’m going to be stripping it all back to just me and my guitar, the way it began. Get your voices warmed up, as you’re going to be singing.

 

What can our readers do to support your music?

Listen, hopefully enjoy, and share.

Greg Holden is coming to Crescent Ballroom in Phoenix with Butch Walker on Friday, September 7, 2018: Get Tickets

 

INTERVIEW: Next Big Aussie Band The Faim Talks About Their Rapid Rise & Inspiring Musical Journey

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The Faim dove right in to the music industry. From working with John Feldmann, Pete Wentz, Mark Hoppus, & Josh Dun, to releasing their debut single “Saints of the Sinners”, the four-piece band are certainly building their repertoire.

The Faim are touring the UK and Australia this year with their first international headline show in Glasgow, Scotland on May 25. The band has plans to tour the U.S., hopefully with a stop in Phoenix! No word yet.

Josh Raven, frontman, tells us more about the band, working with music industry greats, influences, and more in their email interview below:

The Faim (formerly Small Town Heroes) is 4 years old. Where did The Faim’s band members meet each other?

Michael, Stephen, and I all met at high school. We were in the same music class for a few years even though Michael was in the year above. Stephen and I had played various school performances together and Michael had started recording a few ideas with Stephen after school. We got together and decided we wanted to start a band. After about seven months of starting the band we spotted Sean on YouTube and were instantly drawn to his energy and style of playing. We had our first jam a short time later and everything just clicked. We connected more than we ever thought, and we haven’t looked back since.

The Faim - Photography by Max Fairclough
The FaimPhotography: Max Fairclough

 

Have you always wanted to be musicians?

Every one of us has been drawn to music. Having bands and artists who inspired us and helped us connect with music so strongly is something we want to share in our own way with others. One thing we’ve always had in common is that music has been always a release for us. Even before we started the band we all had a passion and connection to music. It was just about finding the perfect pieces of the puzzle for our journey that happened to be each of us.

 

How did musician & producer John Feldmann hear about you?

Our first contact with John came about through Instagram. He posted saying he was offering opportunities to “bands with touring experience” and we knew we had to try. We knew we had no touring experience but we were so determined to learn and give our all to impress him. We sent two of our favourite songs we had written at the time and hoped for the best. A few weeks passed and we’d put it in the back of our mind that we’d sent the email and just kept to our routine, and all of a sudden we got an email from John asking for a FaceTime call and that’s where our relationship started.

 

Your sound has evolved from the Small Town Heroes Set Free EP. How much had it changed in between then and when you started working with Feldmann and other artists, and what inspired the change?

 

Before we were writing with John we were struggling to find an organic sound to connect with. We wanted to be authentic, unique and connect with people on a personal level. Those writing trips really opened our perspective on writing music. The pressure was so intense, but we all were so determined to find our identity and explore our writing process. Opening up so personally with each other and just talking about what we wanted out of the core of each song was a huge part of the learning process.

Within the first 10 minutes of meeting John he was already pushing out of our comfort zone. Putting us on the spot to perform songs we’d finished on the plane. The experience, the energy, and our open perspectives on music helped us open the doors to finding our identity of sound amongst all of our passions and influences.

 

As a young band, how does it feel to already be working with musicians from huge bands such as Goldfinger, Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, and Twenty One Pilots?

We were star-struck at first. We couldn’t believe we were writing with the musicians who not only inspired us in a songwriting perspective but the story and the message behind it resonated with us. Having the opportunity to not only write, but get to learn from and relate to them as people was truly inspiring. Especially because they were all such down-to-earth, talented musicians who really love creating great music.

 

Was there influence or advice from these artists that was a game changer for you?

A game changer for us was John really influencing us to be more critical on letting ideas flow naturally. If we weren’t liking a melody or lyrics after 10 minutes we’d move on. Being definitive, honest, critical and persistent was a world John really opened us up to.

 

You can hear co-writer Pete Wentz’s influence in “Saints of the Sinners”. What role did he play in collaboration? Did he write arrangements, lyrics, or something else?

When we wrote with Pete we had a different approach to how we started the song. We simply just started talking about how hard it is for not only musicians but people in general to achieve their greatest goal. We all have that rebellious voice in the back of your mind that says “Take it. Who cares what’s in the way. Just take it.” We wanted to explore our relation to the concept that there’s nothing selfish about thinking “I’m going to get to where I want to be and nothing’s going to stop me.”

 

 

Does “Saints of the Sinners” theme of perseverance to have your voice heard come from your personal experience in pursuing your music career?

Definitely. I feel like any creative person feels that burning sense of frustration when plans or songs you create don’t turn out how you expected. This song is a response to any obstacle or environment that holds you and your dreams back. When your dream becomes a need there’s a passion to take control. Coming to terms with the reality that it’s your right to not only work towards but to take what you deserve.

 

What kind of setbacks helped shape you into the musicians you are today?

There’s been countless amounts of technical difficulties, fights, sleepless weeks, the list is endless. A big hurdle we faced was everyone dropping all their commitments and becoming a living, breathing band 24/7. It was financially crippling, inevitably frustrating and unpredictable but we wanted to develop our establish our identity, our sound and we knew that’s what we had to do. Every single one of these setbacks has had a part in shaping us as musicians. Setbacks were our biggest enemy but also our greatest ally. Being able to learn from these mistakes and push through every obstacle makes you not just stronger in your craft but a stronger person.

 

Do you have any advice for aspiring artists to keep going?

Create music you enjoy and relate to. Take extra time to get to know the people who listen to your music, and go the extra mile to being a good role model. If you’re authentic to who you are, then it’s never a quick process finding your identity. Stay open to perspective and learn from criticism. Then, you have the first steps to move forward.

 

 

If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?

We all have dreams of playing Madison Square Garden and Wembley Stadium, but the absolute best show would be to play right at home in Perth Arena. We’ve got so many fond memories of seeing some of our favourite bands play and having that experience to share with our hometown would be perfect.

 

When do you guys plan on touring the U.S.? What do you know about Arizona?

We have plans to come back to the U.S. to perform, but we have a very tight schedule for the upcoming months… but plans are definitely in the works. We’re all pretty new to travelling but I’ve heard beautiful things about the Arizona landscapes. It’s always been a dream of ours to experience different environments, and the waterfalls and culture of Arizona really appeal to us.

 

If you could tour with one band or musician from any time period, living or dead, who would you choose and why?

Jimi Hendrix, because his music is just undeniably incredible. There’s something so perfect about his relationship with music and how it reflects in his songs. One man with a guitar who captivates thousands in such a different time is something that really resonates. The story of his relationship with music is so inspiring, I can’t imagine how passionate his live performance must be. His connection with music is so raw and intense, and I would love to see a crowd of today connect with it.

Connect with The Faim

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Featured Photo (top) by Max Fairclough