Why Holly Throsby walked away from music

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Holly Throsby talks about leaving music, and what brought her back.

Late last year, Holly Throsby released a raw, emotional, beautiful song called ‘What Do You Say’. It is a simple, delicate duet where characters played by Throsby and Mark Kozelek (aka Sun Kil Moon) converse about their relationship, a relationship that might be a bit worn, but remains strong.

“To me it was kind of a sequel to this song called ‘Would You’, which was a duet on one of my previous albums,” Throsby told Double J’s Myf Warhurst.

“It was sort of like those two people ten years later, when they’re tired and they’ve had children.


“There’s a lot of tension in there I think. They obviously have a lot of feelings for each other, but some people listen to that song and they’re not even sure if those people should be together or not, which I think is a funny reading of it.”

It was the first taste of After A Time, Throsby’s first new record in six years, and an unbelievably strong return to music for the Sydney-based artist.

“I was on holidays on the Central Coast, lying in my bed just thinking about it.

"It’s one of the few songs I’ve written without an instrument, I just wrote the lyrics and the melody for the call and response.

For a long while following the release and fairly arduous touring schedule in support of her 2011 record Team, Throsby tried to write songs. But they just weren’t coming.

“It did bother me,” she admitted. “I was really frustrated trying to write songs, which I think is why I ended up stopping trying.”

I really loved Team. It’s pretty much the only record of mine that I still really like.

Holly Throsby — Lunch With Myf

So she took a lengthy break from music and decided to pen her debut novel, Goodwood, which was released to a fair amount of acclaim last year.

“I didn’t have any songs in me,” she said. “But I felt like I had a book in me, which is what I focused on. And I had a baby as well, which was also a really big thing to do.”

It wasn’t as though Throsby was disenchanted with her recent output. Just prior to her hiatus from music, she feels she wrote the best material of her life.

“I really loved my last record Team,” she said of her 2011 album. “It’s pretty much the only record of mine that I still really like.

"You always release stuff and then you hate it two seconds later. But I still like that record and I felt like I didn’t want to make another album until I felt like I could make an album as good as that or better than that.”

Perhaps Throsby’s creative detour helped shake some songs loose. Once the book was done, she couldn’t stem the tide of new, exciting music.

“I’d been obsessed with the book,” she said. “Once I knew that was really finished, I picked up the guitar and they just flowed out.

“It was so exciting. I was walking around singing songs in my head all the time, feeling like ‘Wow, I’ve got a whole other record almost ready to go.’ It was really quick.

“I started calling people I wanted to play on the record and getting really uppity. ‘Let’s do it tomorrow!’ It was really exciting.

“I felt really happy in the studio again. I’d had such a long break that it was kinda like starting again which was really nice.”

After A Time is out now.

Holly Throsby plays the following dates throughout March.

Thursday 9 March – Clarendon Guesthouse, Katoomba
Friday 10 March – ANU Bar, Canberra
Saturday 11 March – Milton Theatre, Milton
Thursday 16 March – Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane
Saturday 18 March – Lizotte’s, Newcastle
Sunday 19 March – Newtown Social Club, Sydney
Saturday 25 March – Jive, Adelaide
Sunday 26 March – Northcote Social Club, Melbourne
Thursday 30 March – Mojos, Fremantle
Friday 31 March – Babushka, Perth