hollie cook joined 70s punks the slits as a teen but is now going solo
She's the little girl with a big personality, Hollie Cook releases her 2nd album Twice this month and both she and the album are like a ray of sunshine.
Hollie Cook by Tyrone Lebon
Sweetly romantic, tuneful and so unlike anything else going on in the pop scene, Twice really does mark the arrival of summer. West Londoner Hollie's musical momma is Ari Up from punk band The Slits, (in fact Ari Up is the first track on the new album) she spent 5 years playing with them and says that's where she truly got her taste for performing. "Working with The Slits was completely unusual and off key especially being 19," she says. From there her love for reggae grew, "my ex introduced me to Prince Fatty and his instrumental vibes. We tried out a few things which all ended up being on my [first self titled] album." She was 21 when she first started working with Brighton based Prince Fatty and now at 28, she doesn't look a day over 21. She says Twice has a stronger intent, "it just developed, I sound more mature, a really natural progression, with Prince Fatty there are no limits..." Analogue recorded with layer upon layer of lush percussion, Hollie fully credits Prince Fatty, "its been an amazing experience, he is 'that' mastermind, he's gots a very special energy, there's no end as to how his imagination gets carried a way." Not necessarily what you might hear on mainstream radio she's over the moon with how it's ended up, "simple basic ideas got more and more elaborate." Her cast list is impressive, roping in friends as far flung as Brazil. Looking For Real Love, the first single off the new album takes in elements of disco strings and reggae sub base as Hollie's gentle voice washes over the Fatty's atmospheric vibe. I've suddenly gone all laid back! "It's intentional," Hollie says, "it's the Prince Fatty connection, when I first heard his music and production I'd been attempting to pursue a solo career at that time and I worked with a few people and it wasn't really cutting it to be honest. I was at a point, I didn't necessarily know what I was after I just knew that everything that I was doing didn't feel comfortable and right." She doesn't see her music as obviously commericial but "nice and and completly different," to what is around. A girl following her heart, there's a refreshing honesty to what Hollie Cook puts before us, "I 100% believe in what I want to do," and she takes time with her music-making journey, "I just always come back to my music fulfilled and happy. Beat of your own drum and all of that." From a grounded and solid base, her dad (Paul cook, drummer of the notorious Sex Pistols) "always said it's not necessarily glamourous - be careful, there's a fair amount of shit." And he should know!
When I was little I liked Robert Smith because he wore lipstick and he was a man... and of course Ari Up, she had zero inhibition when it came to her body and style.
Can I just say here Hollie not only sounds gorgeous, she looks good enough to eat and as she explains this is a bad hair day she tells me, "I love head accessories, I've always had a thing about something on my head, I love a big abnoxious bow," adding, "I love Carman Miranda!" and laughing, "one day im going to get a fruit turban." I hope she does. Hollie mixes a tropical sensibility to her wardrobe. It's a strong style - she's got palm tree earrings on today, "I'm getting there," she says "the bows are getting bigger, the colours have always been bright, I like busy patterns." She loves trying to find stuff that give her a sense of her own identity, "I've always been a bit scuffy, believe it or not I'm not entirely confident of getting up on stage on my own." She adds, "the sort of women I'm drawn to are always extravagant, it's the charm of getting dressed up, now I love it!" Influences range from Bowie to Robert E Smith, "I loved all that when I was a kid, mum said when I was little I liked Robert Smith because he wore lipstick and he was a man... and of course Ari Up, she had zero inhibition when it came to her body and style..."
Text Princess Julia
Photography Tyrone Lebon