It’s been a few weeks since Holy Holy released their third studio album My Own Pool Of Light, and it’s been on our constant rotation ever since. Exploring freedom both lyrically and through production (hello self-producing!), we sat had a chat with lead vocalist Timothy Carroll about the new album.
Paint us a picture, where are you right now?
I live in Launceston, Tasmania. I moved to Tasmania about 5 years ago and I love it here. It still feels kind of magical to me and a little like living overseas. Right now I'm in my home office from where I run operations on Holy Holy and a festival called PANANA. So being a home office I am, of course, still in my pyjamas. It's pretty cold here so there's an electric heater under my desk and I'm listening to Elbow's back catalogue while I work.
And where were you when My Own Pool of Light was released?
On the day of release, I was at home. Working on a bit of a renovation actually. It was nice to be distracted from it. Release day can be weird as there's a rush to judge the work so It was nice to be busy with my hands that day.
For the uninitiated, Holy Holy had an interesting beginning. Timothy Carroll and Oscar Dawson first met as volunteer English teachers in South-East Asia and then again in Berlin. They started off as a project that brought together two composers from two different cities. Now, Holy Holy includes Ryan Strathie (drums), and, when on tour, Graham Ritchie (bass) and Matt Redlich (keys, backing vocals).
Where was this album made? You two didn’t meet in Australia and have made music, in what seems like, all over the world!
A few little rooms in Melbourne (Headgap and the Aviary), then we wrote a bunch under a friend's parents' house in Launceston, a few bits out at my farm in Golconda Tasmania (the middle of nowhere) and a couple of days at Plutonium in Brisbane. Anywhere we could set up a mic.
Tell us about the process in creating this album?
We self-produced this album so often it was just Oscar and me in a simple little studio somewhere bashing out ideas on synth and in the laptop and trying out arrangements and vocal melodies and so on. Drinking coffee, eating toasted sandwiches, travelling through phases of inspiration, elation and despair. It was funny sometimes we'd work all day and I'd think we had achieved nothing but then after a few weeks, we'd go back and realise we had come up with some good moments. The approach was very free and fast. I enjoyed it.
My Own Pool of Light feels like a collection of stories and experiences of the both of yours and others, how much did your surroundings and the people around you influence the album?
Yes. There's a song or two from my life. Frida is about my daughter. St Petersburg is a vignette from my teenage years in Brisbane. Then some of them are from books and real people. Sandra and Teach Me About Dying were both inspired by books. Sandra is based on the biography entitled The Trauma Cleaner and Teach Me About Dying is somewhat inspired by a book called Lincoln in the Bardo. Podcasts sometimes weave their way into songs too. Basically, when I'm writing I'm sucking up ideas and phrases everywhere I can.
There is a wealth of Aussie artists on this album – Japanese Wallpaper, Ali Barter, Ainslie Wills, how did those conversations and collaborations happen?
Ainslie Wills is an old friend, we've toured with her in the past. She's a fucking delight and has a monster voice. Amazing control and emotion. I just called and asked her and she came by for an afternoon.
Ali Barter is Oscar's wife and I've known her for years too. She's good value. A very dry and dark sense of humour and a gun in the studio.
Japanese Wallpaper and Oscar have worked on a few other projects recently. I think they did some work together on a Bec Sandridge track? (They did — working on Sandridge’s new track STRANGER) Oscar was impressed with his style and insight so we invited him to contribute some synth ideas on a few demos we were working on. Again a few FB messages later and he came by for an afternoon and we just worked through the tracks.
You start touring soon! What does touring look and feel like?
It's a lot of travel. A lot of airport, van, road, Greenroom. The mantra is 'hurry up and wait'. But then as the show approaches it gets really exciting and surreal and the shows themselves are wild and a little bit out of body-ish. It's good fun. Hard to explain.
What can people look forward to at a Holy Holy show?
If you get to know our new album we're going to perform sections of it whole. So playing parts of it as suites with no breaks - blending the songs into each other. We'll have a few other tricks too, some guests, a cover, maybe a stripped back track. We love playing and our audiences are passionate so the shows are generally a good time.
Holy Holy start going on tour this week! They’ll be playing in Adelaide at The Gov on the 27th of September — tickets available here.
My Own Pool of Light is available wherever you get your music.