Retro soul band Hollyy has never been one to pass on a live gig, even if the conditions are less than ideal – say, playing outside in 23-degree weather in the middle of a Chicago winter.
The group bundled up in early February to record a live performance of its new song, “Lost in Confusion,” for Flood Magazine as part of the outlet’s “Neighborhoods” video series.
“When we took that, we hadn’t realized how serious their one stipulation was, which was that it has to be recorded outside,” said band member and vocalist Tanner Bednar. The group made the best of it and shot the performance in the Logan Square backyard of drummer Rafe Soto.
“It was kind of rough — instruments definitely get out of tune, your hands definitely freeze up — but we had fun,” said Bednar.
The group’s next live concert promises to be in warmer climes. Hollyy will be performing a showcase in Austin, Texas, at the 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival on Saturday, March 19. Called “the future of retro rock” by Clash Magazine, the Logan Square-based quintet has been garnering attention for its throwback soul sound over the past several years.
“We listened to all Motown and Stax artists growing up. I feel like soul music was at the root of it,” said Bednar. Hollyy’s sound is so eerily reminiscent of those early artists that American Songwriter has said the musicians “summon the spirit of the legendary Memphis-based Stax Records so authentically they sound almost possessed.”
Hollyy Relishes Return Of Live Music
Working out of its practice space at Soto’s house, and collaborating virtually when needed during the pandemic, Hollyy has continued to put out new music. That includes a new EP, “If You’re Ever Lost,” that dropped last month. As part of the recording process, the band worked with celebrated music engineer Mark Needham, who is known for his work with artists such as Fleetwood Mac and The Killers.
“We collectively feel like there was a lot of production growth on [the EP],” said Bednar. “We did a lot more in terms of experimenting with different music elements we never dabbled in before.”
The band is now working on recording its first full-length album. But first, the group is looking forward to making its debut at SXSW later this month.
“We’re psyched to be playing there as an official artist,” said Bednar. In addition to performing, he said band members are hoping to leverage their time at the festival to make connections and meet other artists and contacts in the music industry. “We want to make sure we’re down there playing as much as possible, even if it means busking,” he said.
Bendar said he’s also hopeful that SWSX will be just the first of many Hollyy performances this year, now that live music seems to be on the upswing with pandemic-related restrictions easing.
“Sensing where things are right now, even from a month ago, everything [is] headed in such a hyped up direction,” Bednar said. “It’s going to be be show, show, show, show … we’re looking to play all over.”
More information about Hollyy is available on the group’s Bandcamp page.
Featured photo: Tess Graham
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