Hollie Stephenson 20 Questions

Hollie Stephenson is a 17-year-old singer songwriter from London. She caught the attention of Dave Stewart (half of Eurythmics & producer) at age 12 and she has recorded her debut album with him which is scheduled for release later this year. She sat down and took part in one of Pete’s (customised) 2o questions and here are her responses: 

  • Name a track (artist/title/source album) that makes you think of holidays

We’re all Going on a Summer Holiday – like no other!

  • What stage attire suits you best and why?

I like it to have a slight masculine edge to something quite effeminate  – simple subtle things, like a leather jacket with a dress. Feel comfortable in it, and you tend to suite the things you’re comfortable in.

  • Have you got a favourite live album? What are the best moments for you?

Bob Marley Live at the Roxy. I seriously love reggae and for me, Bob Marley is the God of reggae. This album is just love and peace coated in melody, it’s bliss.

  • Which of your songs reflects your own personality and why?

All of my songs reflect me. They’re either about my life, or my observation of the world – everything I write comes from what I’m thinking and feeling.

  • Name a great song intro (artist/title/source album) and tell us why you like it

I love the intro to ‘I Heard it Through the Grapevine’ because you know what the song is about from just that. It tells you everything in that little riff, there’s so much captured in that little passage of time. And it’s great.

  • Tell us your favourite song by 1/Aretha Franklin, 2/Amy Winehouse, 3/Nina Simone  and why

I honestly can’t tell you what my favourite Aretha song is – I think I’ve obsessed over every song there is. Soul Serenade and The House that Jack Built seem to have permanently lodged themselves in my subconscious though, but I cant single any out as a favourite; there are just too many amazing songs!

I’d say my favourite Amy song is probably Me and Mr. Jones – I like the moody drums and the chirpy keys. If the vocal was taken out, you’d know exactly what the song was about because each instrument has it’s own little personality and attitude telling you the story; and I love that.

My Baby Just Cares for Me – that’s a wicked tune. Nina’s voice is perfect for it. The security of the masculinity in her voice really compliments the lyrics. It’s almost that this secure love of ‘her baby’ has given her this powerful, masculine, beautiful confidence.

  • Other than guitar, do you play any other instruments and if not, what would you like to learn?

My early childhood was consumed by years of piano lessons, and all i have to show for it is the chopsticks… I don’t like being taught, I feel like if someone is showing me how to play an instrument, they’re just playing through me and no matter how amazing I might become, it’s them not me. So at the moment, I only play the guitar, but I would love to mess around on a keyboard and find my bearings and see if I can be more successful this time around!

  • If you could duet with anyone (living) – who would it be? Why have you chosen them and what song? 

I’d say Paolo Nutini – no question about it! I’d want to sing an Ella and Louis song, maybe something like Dream a Little Dream of Me? That’s if I’m able to get a sound out… I reckon I’d just go really quite and still… I’d be as much use as a vegetable.

  • What is the earliest Disney/Pixar film song you remember liking

When I was younger, I was obsessed with The Lion King – so much so that for my 3rd birthday, I got to go and see it at the West End – I can remember absolutely loving it, but not actually seeing it… Which is great because that means I can go and see it again!

  • Tell us which book (title/author) you would like to attribute music to, for a film (and why). What style would you go for?

That’s a hard question – I’ve never thought of that before… A book that is about a girl who cares too much I suppose.

  • Which song makes you want to dance? Can your mum dance?

Any Northern Soul tunes really – it’s an involuntary response to the music, you’re dancing before you’re aware of it. My mum? I feel that the ‘right’ answer would be a lie so I’m gonna leave that one to avoid mother and daughter conflict.

  • What’s the most romantic/inspiring Motown recording?

Too many!!! Almost all Mowtown songs are romantically inspiring and they’re all great! Jimmy Mack always puts me in the best mood, You Can’t Hurry Love is reassuring, and He’s a Rebel is another wicked one… How can I choose? Maybe Ain’t No Mountain High Enough is the most inspiring – Love conquers all!

  • Have you ever watched an entire TV series? If so, which one and why?

No. What I do is watch the first series as though my life depends on it, then i just get bored. Actually, I’ve been watching Orphan Black on Netflix and I’ve watched every episode, but they haven’t uploaded season 3. I had been so wrapped up in it, that i didn’t realise I was watching the last episode Netflix had and I just did not know what to do with myself for the rest of that night…

  • Best place to eat within five miles of where you live and why?

The only food I go out to eat is sushi – and I haven’t been to the same place twice because I want to eat at every sushi in London. And then one day, if I’m lucky, Japan.  Japan has the best sushi I’m sure… but it’s a little over 5 miles from where I live I think.

  • Give us an example of a recording of great vocal harmony (artist/title/album). When did you first hear this?

I love that track Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups. I don’t know when i first heard it… My mum’s always played me that type of music from before I can remember.

  • What does mainstream radio in the UK play too much of? What could they play more of? (Artists/styles of music)

I don’t really know, I surround myself with music I like and that’s what I listen to – not the radio. I just think all music should have soul, and if it doesn’t, then its noise and not music… and they play a lot of noise.

  • Diana Ross, or Dionne Warwick? (Say something about both+ any favourite tracks)

I love these two women! ‘You Can’t Hurry Love’ and ‘Walk On By’ are two of my all-time favourite songs – I think they’re great women with incredible talent, and I’ve learnt so much through listening to their music.

  • Tell us about the musicians you work with

I’ve been so incredibly lucky, honoured, and privileged to have met, played with and collaborated with the musicians I have along the way. From day one I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing musicians. They’re all just really lovely, talented people.

  • What’s the most upbeat song on your forthcoming album? What inspired it?

Man of Few Words. I wrote it when I was fed up with being so indispensable to this guy. It was all on his terms, and like a foolish little girl, I allowed for it because he had such a hold  over me.

  • What three elements should be at the forefront in a live performance?

I think you need to be honest and be yourself. I don’t think there should be three compulsory elements as such. Just be you and if you’re not confident, then the confidence can be faked… Be honest with the rest.

Pete Sargeant

For more information on Hollie Stephenson’s PledgeMusic campaign visit: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/hollie-stephenson 

To find out more about Hollie visit: https://twitter.com/hollie_b7  and https://www.facebook.com/HollieMusicLondon