Country- folk artist Holly Macve’s debut album Golden Eagle perfectly captures the essence of classic artists in a most modern way. From “Heartbreak Blues” to “No One Has the Answers,” (and everything else in between) the up and coming country crooner takes you on a melancholy journey of her innermost thoughts. Reminiscent of a golden time in country music, Golden Eagle draws you in with all the nostalgic feels of a Johnny Cash record, but with a fresh, feminine twist. Born in Galway, Ireland, Holly proves that country music isn’t about where you’re from; it’s about who you are.
What inspired you to pursue music?
It wasn’t really something I thought of too much as a child, just something I enjoyed very much and felt natural to me. I was lucky in the fact that I had a very encouraging mother who also played music and sang herself, and there were always instruments around the house. I can’t remember there being a moment when I realized it could be a career path, but there was also no doubt in my mind about it being what I wanted to do in life.
To anyone who doesn’t know you, how would you describe your sound?
I think the obvious description would be ‘country/folk’ influenced, which is definitely not wrong. I’m not a huge fan of labeling in music though. I like to feel like I can develop and evolve as an artist in whatever way feels natural to me at that time without feeling pressured to stick to a certain genre. I’m not sure what the future holds for my sound and songwriting, but I find that quite an exciting prospect. I’m very inspired by artists that just follow their own paths and don’t let anything sway that.
Being from Ireland and pursuing country music doesn’t seem very common. What drew you to country music?
My mum would listen to a lot of old country music when I was growing up. It was something I might not have appreciated all that much at the time but came back to it in later years with a lot of fondness. I loved the rawness and honesty of it, and it seemed attainable to me and my acoustic guitar. It was never a challenge because I wouldn’t look at it that way. I think that’s important. It seems such a natural thing for me to do, playing and writing songs.
Who are your inspirations musically?
During my time writing this record I was listening to a lot of Johnny Cash. Even though it was a constant companion during my youth, it was more a case of re-discovering his music and it just made so much sense to me at the time. Gillian Welch was also a huge influence. I’m inspired by so many different artists though, it would be hard to name them all! Nick Cave and Tom Waits have been playing a lot in my house recently and helping me feel inspired.
Inspirer features inspirational and groundbreaking women. Are there any female artists you look up to who have been inspirational to you?
I find Dolly Parton very inspiring as a songwriter and as a person. It seems like she has done a lot of good things with her platform and really cares about helping the people who are less fortunate than her, and I respect that a lot. The music industry can be a pretty tough place for women sometimes, and she’s never seemed to let that affect her. She’s just been herself and written so many superb songs, and all done seemingly with a lot of confidence about her. She’s a cool lady.
Golden Eagle sounds reminiscent of classic country artists yet still modern and refreshing. What was your inspiration for doing this album?
I never really had an aim of how I wanted the record to sound. It was just a bunch of songs that came out of me at that particular time of my life. I was going through a hard time personally and songwriting is sort of like a therapy for me. I hope that people listening can relate to the subjects in the songs and hopefully enjoy it too. Paul Gregory, who produced the album, did a fantastic job with the ‘classic/ modern’ take. We definitely both had that approach to it and he really understood the kind of vibe the songs needed.
Do you have a song from Golden Eagle that’s particularly special to you?
The song “Golden Eagle” is a special one to me and my family as it was written a few months after my Grandfather passed away and was in honor of him. He was a very important part in my life and was also a musician. It was quite tough to sing live for a while as initially, it felt very raw still, but over time it’s helped me grieve and has become more of a positive thing. It felt right to title the album ‘Golden Eagle’ as he helped me get to a point in life where I could write my first album.
“No One Has the Answers” is probably my favorite song on your album. What was going on in your personal life that led to writing such a powerful song?
I was having a bit of an existential crisis whilst writing this song it seems. Sometimes life can seem a bit overwhelming and everything feels like an unknown mystery. I try not to think too much about it as I can drive myself mad! I was living in Brighton that summer and had moved back to my parents’ house for a while to sort myself out. The song is really reflecting on that summer’s events and how I was feeling at the time.
I love that all your lyrics are so personal and feel like a window to who you are. How important is it for your music to be an expression of you?
The most important thing for me is making sure I’m writing music that feels true to myself. Sometimes that means it’s very personal and other times it’s my honest observations on other people and their situations. I’m not sure how much of a conscious thing this is, but it’s just my style of writing. It can be a bit tricky when your lyrics are so personal as it can get you into awkward situations (which mine have a few times.) But that’s just something you have to deal with as a songwriter, and I won’t let it change the way I write.
What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve faced in pursuing a career in music?
I was just 17 when I got involved in the music industry. I was very young and didn’t quite know myself yet. Things didn’t work out so well with the people I was working with at that time, and I ended up feeling quite lost. I was writing music that I didn’t really feel a connection with; it was more just what I thought other people wanted to hear. I took a step back and got a job in a cafe for a while, and it was then that I started writing for myself. I soon after met Simon Raymonde (owner of Bella Union) at the cafe and have had the freedom to write the music that I want to write since then. It was all a pretty steep learning curve and I have no regrets.
What’s next for you?
I’m currently working on songs for my next record. I’m really excited to get back into the studio. I was worried for a while about this process because there’ s usually a bit more pressure when it comes to your second release, but so far the songs are coming quite naturally and I am eager to get some new music out there.
What do you hope to ultimately achieve as an artist?
I’m not sure I have an “ultimate goal” as an artist. I just hope to be able to continue doing what I love and hope that other people get something out of it too. I’m constantly learning things from going to new places and meeting new people, and I feel lucky to have those opportunities. I just want to keep growing and try to be the best I can be.