Sweet Sweet Music spoke to Marshall Holland, who has just released one of this year’s finest singer-songwriter pop record, about swimming in a mixture of depression, anger, empathy, dread, exhaustion, apathy, restlessness, peacefulness, hopelessness, and hopefulness.
How did this record come together?
There’s so many reasons how and why, but for one, I was laid off from a 6 year long (mentally taxing) day job due to the pandemic. I finally had some genuine time off to myself, but at the same time, I was swimming in a mixture of depression, anger, empathy, dread, exhaustion, apathy, restlessness, peacefulness, hopelessness, hopefulness, and pondering my own future and life & death on top of it all. When a family friend of mine, Michael Brooks, began sharing his own original songs that he was working on with me, it gave me a spark to get back into the momentum of writing and recording on my own again in my home studio. I began sharing my songs with him and with his encouragement I don’t think I would have even bothered to finish any of the music for the album, as I was still in a mental-funk, so I gave him some credit on this album as I’ve always admired him as a songwriter. That’s the “how” in a nutshell.
As an artist, you chose to show your emotions to the world. Is it always comfortable to do so?
Good question, as I’ve never felt uncomfortable giving people glimpses of my emotions, but I think there’s a time and a place for it, and it’s a natural reflex for me to show emotions in life and art. I’ve always been a very shy, quiet person, and as a kid, I was more of an observer of the world than an instigator, but I was always eager to please. When I wear my heart on my sleeve it’s just by default. Emotions can be a universal language, and my music is a part of the translation.
Any ideas about how to turn this one into a million-seller?
Although that would probably never happen, it can just be luck, maybe good karma will come back around for me, but more money just causes more problems as everyone would probably just want a piece of it, so I’ll let the music itself hold up value and not worry about the dollar amount in my pockets. At the moment I’m very grateful and honored that the great Rodney Bingenheimer played two of my songs–“When the Rain Comes” and “She Buys a Dress (to Match with Her Pink Belt)–on his SiriusXM show in just two weeks, back to back, and that’s freaking cooler than cool! I don’t know if I could ask for anything more.
What’s the gig you will always remember? And why?
It was my freshman year of high school and I was invited to some sort of teachers’ convention to perform solo on acoustic guitar. I was just discovering songs by The Monkees and The Partridge Family during this period as I bought a best of CD as well as acquiring cassette tapes of some of their albums (this is a time far from the technology of online streaming services and MP3s). I learned a bunch of songs to cover just for this gig, but for my own pleasure as well–I love music. I remember seeing their faces when I performed as they were amazed that I even knew who the Monkees or Partridge Family were–I even tried my best to sing like David Cassidy and Davy Jones, which was an extra bonus. That was a lot of fun to connect with those people that were 1. surprised that this kid could sing and play guitar, and 2. this kid was playing songs he shouldn’t even know about at that age.
Is recording a record easier than getting it heard nowadays?
Without a doubt, in fact, the technology today has nearly leveled out the playing field in recording a professional sounding record, but on the other hand, if you’re putting out music just to get heard, it’s almost unfair competition out there–some would say–it’s getting out of hand as everyone is coming out with music quicker and trying to be heard all at the same time would be one argument. However, I think it’s much easier today for ears to hear your music, but it’s just that you’ll have to hustle and put some leg work into it for that attention, as the world of listeners and music lovers are just flooded with content. You just need to know where to submit your music and there’s a ton of college/independent stations out there playing new stuff. New music is more alive than it has ever been before, thanks to technology.
The digital technology has made art easier to create and easier to release and access, as any listener can dip their hand in the bottomless cookie jar of content, but it’s just the question of which cookie jar you find and which cookie gets placed on top.