Hollie Rogers: No Regrets
Published 3rd August 2016
During her University days, Hollie Rogers stumbled upon an interesting musical combination.
She found that the lyrics of The Blower’s Daughter, the best known song by her favourite songwriter, Damien Rice, made a pleasant companion to the tune of No Surprises by Radiohead. She posted a video of the ‘mash-up’ on YouTube and was delighted to see the song clock up over 20,000 views.
“I posted the video in the days before every musician in the world was on YouTube,” remembers Hollie. ‘In those days, it was easier to reach an audience and pick up views. “People started to share the video and it was actually played to Damien Rice on Irish radio, which was a nice moment for me as he was a real idol of mine at the time. He was complimentary too, which was a relief.”
Nine years after Hollie posted the video, she turned to her popular cover version as she opened for the Kaz Hawkins Band at Coolham Live Music Club.
But Hollie’s outlook on music now is somewhat different to what it was when she was a student at Exeter University. Now, it’s not so much a story of No Surprises, but of No Regrets...
You Know That's a Bass Guitar, Right?
“I start learning guitar when I was 15 and living in Cornwall. I wanted to impress boys and I thought that girls with guitars looked cool! That’s the only reason!
I was trying to teach myself and after an unsuccessful two months, a music teacher told me that I was actually playing a bass guitar!”
I Regret Quitting While I Was Ahead
“Eventually, I took some guitar lessons, joined a band and things started to progress. Damien Rice was a big influence on my early songs, which had ab acoustic folk style. Although my music doesn’t sound anything like Blondie, I was a big fan of Debbie Harry too, as my mum would always play her records.
"When I was 19, I released my first album, ‘Let Me Be the Shadow of Your Dog’ It’s named after a line in ‘Ne Me Quitte Pas’ by Jacques Brel. The album did very well as I had a good following at Exeter University.
"But that momentum faded as I went on my teacher training course, and was too busy for gigs. I feel that I quit while I was ahead, which I regret to a degree.”
I'm Sorry, I Can't Play the Pyramid Stage
“I moved to Horsham about four years ago, to teach at a local school. I loved every minute of it, but I decided that I would leave to try and play more music. I left teaching in July, as I felt that I would always regret it if I didn’t give music a proper go.
"Whenever I play a gig, I always feel it’s what I want to be doing all the time. It’s been difficult to juggle music and teaching, as of course work takes priority. During holidays, I can say ‘Yes’ to more gigs, but during term time it’s very difficult. You could be booked for Glastonbury, but if it clashed with Parents Evening, you’d have to turn it down.”
Crowdfunding Shaped the Second Album
“I have given myself a time window of a couple of years just to see what happens. If it doesn’t work out for me, then I hope I can return to teaching.
"I don’t want to be rich and famous; it would be great just to make a living from being a musician. I believe that to be a successful singer/songwriter you need more luck than talent, and you need to be in the right place at the right time. So I believe that by playing more gigs, I am maximising my chances of meeting people and making the right contacts.
“My second album, All That Fire, came out last year, seven years after my debut album. With my first album, I had a small deal with a label and studio in Cornwall. I had no such support for All That Fire, so I used a crowdfunding method and was really surprised to raise enough money to record the album.
"I think it’s a more mature, polished record than my first. However, people I speak to are pretty evenly split as to which of the two records they prefer!”
Singing About Sex Doesn't Worry Me
“My songs are generally about love, hate and sex. But I can’t sit down and write a song; the ideas just kind of happen, usually at 3am, which is really inconvenient asI have to get up and write them down!
Singing about love and sex doesn’t worry me at all, even though they are very personal songs. The lyrics to one of my songs, Beethoven, is very blunt and has no hidden meaning! I’m just an honest person generally, so I don’t mind talking or singing about relationships.”
Tom's Big Hair is Eye-Catching
“Tom Holder played at my album launch. When I needed a cello player, a member of staff at my former school suggested that I contact Tom.
He now performs on the double bass at most gigs, to the extent we’re now more of a duo. So many singers just perform with a guitar, so it’s more eye-catching to have Tom with his big hair playing the double bass! Greg Walton, who plays with Tom in The Fabulous Fug Band, also plays on drums sometimes.
"I’m writing new material at the moment and the intention is to release a third album. I’ve been learning the piano and that has changed the feel to some of the new sounds. The songs often change a lot when we perform them live, so we’re going to polish sthe new material before we go into the studio. We have though recorded a new demo, which includes some of my old songs that have been stripped back, with just me and Tom playing.”
To listen to Hollie’s music and for gig listings, visit her Facebook page or the website at www.hollierogers.com