We had a chance to meet up-and-coming singer/songwriter Becky Holt, hailing from Fullerton, California and starting to make waves on the local Orange County scene. We discussed Ms. Holt’s humble musical beginnings, her upcoming album Cut And Paste, and her new music video for the standout track “Hangman Knot.” Check it all out below.
Beats Per Minute: Tell me about your earliest musical memories.
Becky Holt: When I was really little, my mom put me in one of those dancing and singing children’s choirs, which was terrible. It was called Showbiz. My mom would have me wear rollers to bed and I’d cry the whole time.
Was she like a dance mom?
Yeah, she’d put all this makeup on me and I hated it. -laughter-
I always loved music, though. I had an older brother, and you know how when you have an older sibling and you look up to them so much, well my brother was really into music and I guess I followed suit. I took piano and I always hated it, and I auditioned for choirs but people would always tell me that I couldn’t sing. So, I was more just a fan of music for a long time. I didn’t start playing music until I was 22.
Okay, so performing music is a newer ambition of yours?
Yeah, but it’s a blessing because for so long I was envious of people who could write music. In a fantasy world, I imagined that I could write songs, too. I don’t know, does everybody do that? I think everybody does that. Like, you hear your favorite song and you fantasize about having written it?
Anyway, when I did finally take up learning the guitar, I taught myself and it came really fast. I didn’t put a lot of time into learning technique or theory, but I started writing immediately.
Do you still relate to the songs that you wrote when you were starting out?
There are a handful that have made it through the years that I still relate to, but they remind me of the past. I like to tell stories and am very literal as a writer. I like my songs to tell exactly what happened, even if it doesn’t put me in the best light or it spotlights my insecurities. So, it’s very easy for me to go back and relate to it.
A lot of artists put older material behind them when they have newer stuff to showcase. Do you do that or do you still revisit your older material when you perform?
There are two or three songs that are still my favorites that I wrote a few years ago… My style has evolved but it hasn’t really changed. Like, when I write, everything is based on the words. I think that being a woman, I have a tendency towards putting lyrics ahead of the music…
[At this point, Jimmy Buffet’s “Cheeseburger In Paradise” comes on at the bar and the conversation shifts towards Buffet and the music that Becky Holt’s parents listened to when she was young. This lasts for several minutes.]
Anyway, back to how I write. I’m focused on telling a story, and I actually record conversations that I have with people and then go back and listen to them later, getting fixated on a word or something that somebody says, and eventually writing around that.
So, tell us about the new album that you have.
It’s tentatively going to be called Cut And Paste, which is one of the songs on the album. It’s the one happy love song on the record.
Um, the album is finished. It’s in my cd player right now.
Now it is just the matter of getting it out into the world?
I get caught up in… I just want to share it. I’m so blessed to have an audience to share my music with. Every time I play a show and people come up, I think how amazing it is that I have an audience to play my songs to. But, I’m just not sure what the best method is to get my album out there. I love records and I love my record collection, but I think that vinyl is something you do when you are more of an established artist. So, it’s like pressing compact discs versus just downloads, or now people are even trying to bring back cassettes.
Anyway, it’s done, but I’m just coddling it a bit. It will be out very soon, though.
And, you did make a video…
I did make a video, with the amazing Tyler Johnson. I want to make a video every weekend. I’ve never had so much fun.
What was fun about it? Tell us about the process.
Well, for one all of my best friends were there. My bandmates are some of my best friends. I made them come over at nine in the morning, which is way too early for musicians. But, as a consolation for them waking up so early, I had this breakfast spread laid out for them, sort of like the mom figure of the group. And, they just went straight for the coffee and the Jameson that was in the cabinet. So, by ten when we were ready to run the first shot, everybody was wasted.
If I was going to say one thing about your video, it is that it looks like you guys are having fun.
That’s the thing is that it is a good example of how I write. If you took the tempo down for the song and put a violin in it, it would be a very depressing song. But, it’s like a really upbeat suicide song, and the video captures that.
It’s sort of like a female Smiths, thematically.
I’ve gotten that and I’ve gotten ‘the girl version of David Bazan,’ which made me want to pee my pants.
I’ve seen that name but I’m not really familiar with him.
You have to be really patient to like David Bazan, but once you do you fall in love with him. He was previously in the band Pedro The Lion.
Is that how you would describe your music?
No, I think that was really an unfair compliment. That’s a knock to David Bazan and his talent.
There’s no way to answer that question, though, without sounding conceited. Like, what do I say? ‘I’m like Wilco mixed with Radiohead mixed with the greatest bands of our time.’ A lot of people compare me to Jenny Lewis or Zooey Deschanel, and I think there is that sweet and girly aspect to my music. There is a lot of country influence to my music. I’m obsessed with old country, from The Chordettes to Tammy Wynette to Dolly Parton to Patsy Cline, I love a lot of it.
How would you describe my music?
I think the Jenny Lewis comparison is fair.
She has probably influenced me more than anyone else.