Artist Interview: Royal Holland and the Rotation
Tell us about yourself and your music
Royal Holland is a singer-songwriter from Newport, KY playing dreamy folk rock songs about love and loss since early 2014. He is desperate to create elaborate, visceral, truthful musical stories in every new song. He stands upon the shoulders of his heroes of the art form; Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Jeff Mangum among many others, and draws inspiration from the terribly beautiful and wonderfully horrible events of daily mundane life. He wants us all to feel beautiful and free.
Growing up in a small farm town, Royal started piano lessons at age 7 during which he begged his instructor to teach him how to write a song. Since then, Royal has always taken solace in writing songs. It got him through being an outcast in his formative years, becoming a single dad at a young age and two failed marriages. He continues to write songs that will connect with those of us who can’t quite seem to find their place in this life.
Royal has led two bands over the past 14 years, but has recenty branched out as a solo artist. He has been featured on CMJ.com, WNKU, Relix Magazine’s CD sampler, the Sonicbids Blog and numerous other local and national press outlets, shared the stage with Reggie and the Full Effect, Samantha Crain, and many others, released a trilogy of E.P.s titled “The Unfolded EP Trilogy” (recorded and produced by Grammy winning producer Brian Olive), begun work on both a full length live album and a follow up concept album, cut a Nashville demo on Music Row, logged over 15,000 touring miles and won The 2014 Ohio Music Award for “Best Folk Album”
Talk to us more about your latest release
My most recent release was an EP called “Volume Three: Program”. It was the final release in the ‘Unfolded Ep Trilogy’ that also included “Volume One: The Maze” and Volume Two: Flamingo”. All recorded and produced by the venerable Brian Olive at his now defunct Diamonds studio in Northside, Cincinnati, OH. Not to worry though he has a new studio named Mount Saturn high on the hill in Northside overlooking the city. Its secluded and beautiful up there, and it’s going to be the setting for my first Long Player, a live in-studio album we’re recording this Spring!
What inspired you to write this release?
Royal Holland has an origin story which will be the concept behind an album I’m working on that will come after the live in-studio album. These EPs also convey a story arc which is an introduction to the concepts that will be presented within that origin story. It was the process of questioning, trying to answer and then being ok with no answer that really inspired the songs on these releases. “Volume Three: Program” is the most fully realized of the three EPs and also the most open and organic. It really meant a lot to accomplish this as it was the precursor of our touring live show which has been refined repeatedly over the last year. This live sound is what we will try to capture in the studio this spring.
Any plans to release a video?
We did plan on releasing a video for the song ‘Program’ off of “Volume Three: Program” but have yet to film it. There is a compelling lyric video for it which I will link here in the text, and then I’ll send the link for our video for the title track off of “Volume Two: Flamingo” below.
Any plans to hit the road?
We have been touring fairly regularly since our first big West Coast tour last January. Prior to that I had been touring as a solo act and traveling up and down the East Coast and Midwest mostly. We’ve played a lot more midwest shows as we’ve started planning our 2017 tour schedule. We did just get asked to play a live in-studio direct to vinyl session with Leesta Vall Booking in Brooklyn, NY in June, so we’ll put together a few dates around that (more info to come!), Our next big show in our hometown is for Brian Olive’s New Album release show at the Woodward Theater, OTR on April 28th. Other than that, we’ve got some more midwest touring in the works for the Spring (we’re firming up bookings in Chicago, Lexington, Indianapolis, Columbus, Cleveland, Louisville and a few others we like to go back to on a regular basis), and you can keep track of upcoming shows on our band camp page, http://royalholland.bandcamp.com, or track us on Bandsintown!
As an indie artist, how do you brand yourself and your music to stand out from the rest of the artists out there?
I’ve thought about this a lot, and feel as if it’s kind of the other way around. What I’ve done is tried to begin living my life exactly how I would. Not giving into fears or unsettled feelings, but truly embracing the freedom that comes from embracing everything about yourself openly. My backing band is called the Rotation, because I tell everyone. Show up and play when you can and want to, if you can’t we’ll figure it out and present the songs in a different yet equally compelling way. This is what artistry is to me. Creating something that is compelling and tells the story you have to tell in the most captivating way. I guess in a way this is my brand. It’s the organic result of what has been happening naturally.
Who have you been listening to lately?
I wish I had more time to listen to music, however, I have started writing a column called ‘Royal Recommends’ for Cincymusic.com in which I recommend music that is local that I have seen live or have been tracking for a while. I’m huge proponent of people discovering local music, especially in a music scene that is as strong and under-rated as Cincinnati’s. So, yeah I’ve listened to a lot of local music lately. I’d call some of them out, but it wouldn’t;t feel right, not to name everyone, so maybe just go to Cincymusic.com and check it out for yourself.
Tell us about your passions
Humans growing together in peace.
What else is happening next in your world?
So many albums to make and so little time. After the live in-studio album and first concept album (which is about 1/2 written) I’ve got another concept album that I want to base on the lives of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage, then an EP that is inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s ‘The Magician’
Thanks for an awesome interview, Royal!