Holly Rey talks about her ‘Deeper’ song and the power of music
Holly Rey is making a huge impression on the South African house music scene with her incredible talent. Holly’s ‘Deeper’ song went platinum not too long ago. She went on to achieve another career-defining accolade for her ‘Deeper’ hit track. Holly Rey won the ‘Record of the Year’ award at the 2019 SAMA Awards. She has achieved something truly phenomenal because it has been 20 years since a woman won this award.
The JOOX team recently caught up with Holly to chat about her music, the house music industry and music streaming. Holly Rey got personal in her interview. Holly is not only an award-winning artist, but she has also had a fascinating journey getting to the top.
Holly Rey, tell us more about your musical journey?
“I’ve always loved music. People always ask me, ‘when did you get into music.’ I feel like when you’re a musician it is always in you. I’ve loved music ever since I was a kid. It has always been a part of who I was. I just started writing music and playing guitar. I was always asking my mom to go to more lessons. I was always finding a new instrument to learn, like drums and the guitar. There was always something new.
“So, I start writing music and putting stuff together, my own songs on the guitar. When I was about thirteen/fourteen I started playing shows around Durban, just like small little restaurants. [It was] just more as a hobby than anything else.
“Then someone from Sony/ATV was at one of my shows, and the Monday after I performed, I was offered my first publishing deal with Sony/ATV when I was fourteen. That’s when I kind of realised that this is a business, this is a job like maybe I should take it seriously. I then actually went to [the] studio and started making music and that’s kind of where it started.”
How did you choose house music?
“I have like a love relationship with house [music]. I just started off making pop music because it was kind of expected of me. It’s the box that I fitted into. I ticked all of the boxes that required a Pop artist to tick. I got to a point where I wasn’t really making music that I was listening to – music I was a fan of. I listen to house. I live, sleep, breathe house music but I was making pop music. It didn’t make sense.
“I remember that I went on a roadshow with a radio station around KZN. House music was at its prime. I was about sixteen. That’s when I fell in love with not just with the genre but the culture of house. Because house music is this huge subculture and that’s what I love about it. It’s the subculture of house, the style that comes, the fashion, the dance moves, the ‘shisa nyama’ Sundays, it’s everything that comes with the music as an added benefit. That’s what I love. That’s where I find my happy place.”
What has been your biggest success?
“I think definitely [my] ‘Deeper’ [song] has been my biggest success. For sure. There is no question about it. ‘Deeper’ will forever be my favourite song because I think it launched me into the industry. It gave me the platform.
“It also allowed me to connect with so many people. That was what was so beautiful about last year for me and the success of ‘Deeper’. In December  I did like fifty-two shows. I got to literally all of South Africa. I got to connect with so many people, meet so many cool people, and that’s really beautiful. That’s the power of music. That will always be my greatest joy.”
Was there ever a time where you felt despondent in your rise?
“All the time. The music industry is really tough because you are packaging yourself. You are an individual; a person and you’re selling yourself. When you do that everything is a lot more personal. All the knocks are a lot harder, they [also] cut deeper.” Holly gestures a drum roll, makes the accompanying sound effect and laughs.
Holly Rey continues, “So, it is really really difficult. But when you have people around you that believe in you, who truly believe in you, it makes it a lot easier. I was really lucky that I had people who really pushed me and kept me motivated. I worked with amazing artists when I was still underground who believed in me and encouraged me as well. That’s really important and positivity and surrounding yourself with that.
“Also, realising that other people aren’t making personal decisions. Radio stations maybe aren’t playing your music because you’re not known and they need an artist who is known. You aren’t getting booked because venues need crowd pullers. Just telling yourself it’s not personal I think really does help.”
Who is on your collaboration bucket list?
“I’ve been very lucky. I’ve been able to work with a lot of artists who were kind of on my bucket list before and it’s been the most incredible experience. But I think, at this moment, who I’d really like to work with locally, I’m a huge fan of Dr. Duda. I think he is an amazing producer. I’m kind of obsessed with producers at the moment because I’m working with on the music.
“I would love to do more female collaborations. There are so many amazing female artists in South Africa at the moment. I’m obsessed with Simmy. She is life. She is everything. I think Zanda is amazing. I think that there are so many female artists that have so much to offer [and] so much to say. I think it would be cool to see more all-female collabs.
“Internationally and in Africa. I’m listening to a lot of Ugandan artists. Fik Fameica, I think he is amazing. Internationally I’m a big fan of Pharrell. I think he is an amazing producer. I think he just gets the best out of the vocalists and artists he works with and that’s incredible to watch. So, that’s my summarised bucket list.”
What is the best era in house music?
“I think at the moment because of all the females.”
What is your favourite house song?
“Probably anything by Kaytranada together. Maybe Kaytranada ‘Together’.”
What are your thoughts on Amapiano?
“[It’s a] love-hate relationship.”
How would you describe the women in house music in one word?
Who do you think is a house music legend?
How would you describe Durban in one word?
Which brand comes to mind when you think of streaming music?
What do you connect with the word “deeper”?
How would you describe yourself in one word?
Listen now to Holly Rey’s ‘Deeper’ song
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