Holly Throsby has released five albums, one of which was a joyous bright eyed kid’s record. She has written and illustrated comics. And can she now add novelist to her list of achievements.
There should be something a bit unsafe about the way you use words sometimes.Holly Throsby — Don't Look Back
Goodwood, is Holly Throsby’s first book, It’s set in a tight knit small country town, which is confronted with the horror of the disappearance of two members of their community.
The tension and overarching despair is balanced with lightness and humour and some surprising turns of phrases and metaphoric touches that will bring an instant smile to your face.
Unexpected words can pop out of a page or during a song, punctuating the moment or an emotion.
And there’s three very different sources which Holly says continue to inspire her: kids, a Barbadian megastar and a Scottish painter and poet.
“Watching kids think is really interesting,” she says. “Because kids go from A to Z or A to F and you’re just like ‘how did you do that?’. Kids are in this constantly creative phase that sadly a lot of people lose as they go through life but I think it would be lovely to think like a kid all the time.”
The huge hit ‘Work’ by Rihanna has had a big impact as well.
“I think the way [she] delivers those lyrics where she doesn’t even say the ‘k’ in a lot of the ‘works’ and she slips into dialect… I find that kind of vocal performance to be fascinating,” she says.
“On my last record, Team, there’s a song I did called ‘To See You Out’, which has a lot of overlapping vocals. I tried to take a similar approach in terms of one line bleeding into another line and kind of sounding similar but being different and just being impressionistic rather than direct. I find that quite moving. In a lot of ways that’s the way we form thoughts and ideas.”
Holly’s creative thinking got a big jumpstart from 2001’s Any Other City, the sole studio album by Scottish indie rock band Life Without Buildings.
“I was obsessed with this band when the album came out and I’m still obsessed with them,” Throsby says. “They had a great impact on me, mainly because of the vocalist who is this incredible woman called Sue Tompkins. She was a painter and a performance poet, and the thing that I love about her vocal is that it sounds very improvised.
"One word would bleed into another word and it would become something else. I feel like she’s just stream of consciousness, free associating between sounds and one word and another. To me, it creates just this beautiful, and kind of childlike in a way, energy.”
Although the whole album was significant for Holly she singles out ‘Juno’ as her favourite song.
“It’s a good lesson in creative thinking,” she says. “How to free yourself of expectation, or lyrics that need to make sense and mean something, and just to express in this beautiful musical way that I find really affecting.”
Although prose writing and songwriting are different creative disciplines, Holly has similar goals in both disciplines.
“Using language in interesting and innovative ways,” she says. “It should feel alive, and fresh and there should be something a bit unsafe about the way you use words sometimes.
“I’m not one of those people who thinks we shouldn’t be adding new words into the dictionary, I think we should be constantly evolving language and using it in new and exciting ways.
"But the effect should always be to evoke some emotion in people, or some thought in people. I think if you’re evoking interesting emotions and thoughts in yourself, then hopefully that carries through and has that effect on the reader or the listener.”
Hear more about the song that changed it all for Holly Throsby on Don't Look Back.