By Davis Blount
Even if you haven’t heard of Elizabeth Holden, you can bet that your favorite local artist is her good personal friend. Boasting far more than an impressive friend list, Holden has teamed up with Stuart Wheeler (Quiet House) and Stephen Cope (Officer Jenny, Studio Studio Dada) to create Violettas, a new group channeling 60’s pop vibes, but in a self-aware kind of way. Instead of singing shoo-whop melodies about the indescribable feelings of new love, Violettas dives into a realm of self-loathing and quiet agony that ought to cause listeners a moment of honest reflection.
The band will be releasing their debut album, The Difficult Ones, on October 3rd. Ms. Holden swapped messages with me to tell us more about her new project and what exciting things are coming.
So the title of your new album is The Difficult Ones. At first, I was under the impression that you were referring to a group of people as difficult… a rallying cry for a ragtag team. After listening to the album, it seems that the album’s title may be making reference to the songs themselves. What was the catalyst for naming the album as such?
Although I am a member of SEVERAL ragtag teams, that’s not the reason for the album title. It was a super last minute decision (I was planning on just naming the album Violettas), until my dad called me to talk about my music. He loves my older stuff, which is more generic, I think, and far less personal, and when asking about showing my songs to some of his business associates, he said “but only the happy (old) ones, not the difficult ones.” I tweeted about it because I thought it was so funny, but then a couple friends said I should call the album that. So it’s kind of a joke, but also probably accurate. I’m pretty candid about the subject matter, and I forget that it makes a lot of people uncomfortable. Even my dad.
There appears to be a lot of grief carried through in this album. Has the inspiration for this album been recent developments or are these struggles that have been long-term?
I’ve written all of the songs on the album over the past year, which has been a rough one, to say the least. I’ve been pretty much consumed by depression, anxiety, identity crises, extreme self doubt, extreme self loathing, trauma, abuse, chronic pain, rocky friendships, amazing friendships, fake friendships, a suicide attempt, familial problems, gaslighting, dudes ruining my life and making me question everything about myself, learning how screwed up I really am but that there are also good parts to me. You know, normal shit. A lot of these have been issues for a long time. I’ve had medical problems since I was born, depression and anxiety for at least 10 years – but the last 3 years or so have kind of built up to this point, and I’m hoping throwing up these songs and putting the album out will kind of contain it and I can move on from a lot of it. When talking about “Blue,” Joni Mitchell said that she felt like cellophane on a cigarette carton, completely transparent. I wouldn’t dare compare myself to Joni Mitchell, but I think the same thing could be said about this album for me. I’m not hiding anything. Maybe I should? Oops too late.
Who all is in the band? Do you all have any shows lined up to debut these songs?
The band is me, Stephen Cope on bass (who I recorded the album with at Studio Studio Dada, of Officer Jenny Sodalicious fame), Stuart Wheeler on keyboard (Quiet House, Officer Jenny), and we’re figuring out drums right now. We don’t have any shows planned right now… I’ve had to take a break from playing shows with Violettas because my chronic pain has gotten really bad and I’m trying to figure out what the next step is and how to work around it.
If you could describe Violettas’ sound in three words, what would it be?
pretty cool maybe
Are you involved in any other local musical acts or is Violettas your one and only?
I play bass in Stephen’s band Officer Jenny, and am hoping to start some new projects with non-dudes. Violettas is my main thing, although I don’t know what’s going to happen to it after this. I also co-founded The Medusa Collective with Stephen Cope, Paula Bravo, and Tess Bybee. An exclusive no dude music club… not really, but kind of. Our mission is to improve gender representation in the Provo music scene, as well as create a safe space within it, and foster creative relationships between non-dude musicians.
You released an album called The Easy Ones earlier in September as a four track EP. Was there ever a time where you thought about making one big album or are those two works mutually exclusive?
So, those were my older songs – the ones my dad likes. It seems silly that I am making so many differentiations between my things based on my dad’s opinions of them, doesn’t it? I started recording with Stephen last June, and originally I was going to do a 5 song EP and that was it (there is one song missing from the EP because I don’t have it in the right file format). Then I went home to NYC for a couple weeks and came back and wrote a lot of these newer ones, and was excited about them (me?? liking something I made?? what???) so I recorded one (“What Have I Done”) for the EP, and then kept going until I had 15 songs. I named the old EP The Easy Ones after naming The Difficult Ones. They are so different thematically and aesthetically that I don’t think they could have gone on the same album.
Lastly, Drew Danburry donated a question to ask you. His question is: “How did you get started in the local music scene and why?”
Hmm. I was actually encouraged to go to Velour open mic by this dude in the music scene (who was really good at using me). I had written and recorded a demo of a song (one that is missing from the old EP because it’s in the wrong format) and done 60’s vocal arrangements (kind of my thing, The Mamas and The Papas are my favorite) and showed it to this guy and he said that it was great and that I should go to open mic. Retrospectively, I think he was complimenting me to try to manipulate me, and I wish I had never met him, but being introduced to the local music scene was the best thing that has happened to me in a long time. I’ve gained so much confidence in myself and beliefs and musical abilities, and have become good friends with so many amazing, talented people who hardcore stand up for what’s right and are so supportive of each other, and I’ve learned so much from them.
Would you like to donate a question that we can ask our next artist?
What is the most embarrassing song you’ve ever written?