Interview: Hollie Cook

July 11, 2013

“Last time it just happened but this time we really worked together”

“It’s like Narnia!”exclaims Hollie Cook, comparing author CS Lewis’ fantasy world to her producer Prince Fatty’s small-looking-on-the-outside, large-on-the-inside studio in Brighton. The comment is classic Cook, whose music projects exude the same heady cocktail of wide-eyed innocence and bewitching knowing charm. The daughter of Sex Pistol Paul is working with Fatty on her untitled second vocal album, due for release in September. The tracks are all laid but still being tweaked and they’ve just worked out the running order because “it’s helpful to have an idea in mind of what the songs are all going to sound like next to each other.”

Hollie Cook

Cook’s eponymous first record came out of her voicing on some rhythms that engineer, selector and live mixer Fatty liked to play out. United Reggae’s preview of the follow-up suggests it’s the product of a lot more conscious experimentation with her dreamy lovers rock inspired template.

There’s a song bearing a haunting lyric about being “afraid to win or lose” on an up-tempo Roots Radics style rhythm that isn’t nearly as contradictory as that sounds. There’s even a deeply personal ode to a departed friend where Hollie invites us to “Come Let Her Fire Blaze” in the choral manner of the Celtic ambient group Clannad (“I asked her to sing like a nun” explains Fatty). It’s a careful fusion of dub and disco. “Is the world ready for a reggae disco album?” Fatty asks and we have a brief nerdy discussion of whether the steppers beat was reggae meets disco or not.

And for fans of her covers of The Whispers’ And The Beat Goes on and ODB’s Got Your Money, Hollie’s voiced an extraordinary rendition of Kraftwork’s The Model – with a bassline very similar to the Twinkle Brothers’ Never Get Burn (played, fittingly, by Twinkle bassist Dub Judah). You can listen to a roughly recorded snippet above. Sadly this one won’t make the album. You have to hear it when Prince Fatty and Cook play live (they’re in Brixton this Saturday)

Hollie says she hasn’t done many interviews lately, and United Reggae is equally unprepared, not knowing she would be at the studio when we visit. But sat on the leather couch, she fielded our made up questions well, even when they took the odd psychological turn…

How has your second vocal album been going?

Very well. It’s close to completion now. Yesterday we were driving myself crazy figuring out a running order – the basic rough outline of how it’s going to be. Now it’s close to being finished I’m starting to feel a bit… well… sad the process has to end. I just really like making albums. It’s fun. I like the whole process of it. So the end is in one way a big relief and a really nice thing to celebrate but at the same time it’s like you’ve had this baby that you’ve raised and now you have to let them fly off into the world on their own!

A flying baby? Is that how you’d describe the album?

(laughs) Sure.

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