“Break out of this cocoon…”
Holly Humberstone has remerged after two years with her vibrant and highly anticipated debut album, Paint My Bedroom Black.
A time capsule of her youth and survival guide for young adulthood, the project approaches distance, loss, and rebirth with emotional rawness.
“Here’s to new horizons,” Holly sings on track one, “Paint My Bedroom Black,” priming listeners for the thirteen-track lyrical autobiography.
In stark contrast to her EP’s that found their stories within the walls of her childhood home and around London, this debut found its storyline in nondescript hotel rooms and unfamiliar cities while on tour.
“I find it difficult. It’s draining on the social battery because you have to meet people all the time, which obviously everybody’s lovely, but it’s meeting people during the day and then playing shows and then getting into your hotel room at night and shutting the door and it just being like deathly silent for the first time,” Holly shared with ECHO and 1824 about tour life. “I feel like a lot of the album is about those feelings about being in the dark on my own in my hotel room day after day, just scrolling on my phone, seeing my friends back at home, and just feeling like I should surely be there. And just being a bit confused about what the hell I’m doing in Milwaukee, as lovely as it is.”
Despite that silence between shows, Holly felt at home in her diary-like songwriting. “It was my chance to touch base with myself and feel like myself again,” she said.
On days off, she would return to a room she felt most at home in: the studio.
While in New York, she unleashed the pent-up emotions into two album standouts, “Paint My Bedroom Black” and “Antichrist.”
“My producer came over, and we wrote both those songs in two days because I just kind of needed to let it all out,” she shared.
One of those emotions was “guilt,” a sentiment that appeared heavily in “Antichrist” as well as a previous single, “Flatlining.”
“I really wanted to write a song about being on the other side of a breakup,” she said. “I feel like there are so many breakup songs about somebody hurting you and being fucked over or something, but there’s not as much on from the other side of the coin where I feel like I’m always on. I feel a lot of guilt and a lot of empathy, and I felt that about being away from people for a long period of time, and I feel like with, with my job, and I’m sure a lot of other people whose jobs are all-consuming as well. And I feel like I have very little mental energy, spare sort of emotional stuff to give to people at the end of the day. I just wanted to write a song about feeling selfish and feeling like the antichrist.”
As honest as Holly is with the moments of emotional turmoil, she is just as candid with the moments that bring her joy.
At the end of “Ghost of Me,” a voice memo fades in from her friend Lauren, as in track five’s “Lauren.” She compared her emotional fragility to the “Glass Bones and Paper Skin” scene from Spongebob, which feels humorous yet oddly poetic.
“I don’t really take myself that seriously, and I feel like putting little bits of humor in my song – I feel like it’s natural to me. I didn’t overthink it. I just played it [the voice memo] to my producer Rob, and I said, ‘How funny is this voice note that my friend Lauren just sent me?’ I feel like the more personal kind of little details I can put in there, the more special the song is to me. I just wanted to share as much as I could of me and my world within the album.”
As Holly continues to grow as an artist and her career continues to unfold, she acknowledges that females in the industry are often “pitted against each other, and we’re sort of made to feel like there’s only room for one of us to succeed.”
However, she sees the irony of it and the power of lifting up other artists. “That’s just silly, like nobody’s going to pick only one person to listen to and support.”
She continues, “I’m just feeling really lucky to be part of such a… sick generation of music that I feel is really heavily dominated by females…so many incredible female artists that are writing about how they feel and not being afraid to share the most personal parts of themselves.”
Next year, Holly will bare her soul on her next headlining tour, This Feels Like The Truman Show.
We can’t wait to hear the brilliance that will come out of this tour as Holly continues her musical metamorphosis.
Featured Photo Credit: Constantine Spence