Daniel Mendoza/Recording Academy
San Holo Speaks On The Creative Process Behind 'album1,' Fan Love, & More
San Holo’s recently released debut album, album1, comes together with a beautiful mix of guitar melodies, emotion, and personal narrative. He is attempting to carve out a space for himself in the musical landscape that incorporates a blend of electronic and organic sounds while always focusing on deeply human emotions. Partnering with Billboard China, Holo is planning to launch a radio station titled after the label he founded, Bitbird. This mix of creative, cultural, and business endeavors makes him as mysterious as he is ambitious.
We spoke with Holo backstage at the Austin City Limits Festival about how he sees the music industry evolving, how fans react to his music, and how he hopes to see his career progress.
How did album1 evolve from what you thought it was going to be when you were starting to the final product?
I wrote album1 in about six months at an Airbnb in L.A. and … I wanted to sound like how I feel right now so I had no idea of how that was going to sound like. I had a small idea of ... what it's going to be, but album1 turned out to be something that, to me, sounds very organic and naturally … I added a lot of natural elements such as guitar and sounds and samps that I'd recorded in those six months and it just turned into something, a hybrid between an EDM and indie kind of album. So, that's what happened.
You're working to promote EDM in the Chinese market. How do you think music and the music industry are going to evolve as demographics and technology change?
There's so many things going on in Asia that we have no ... like we only know half of what's going on in Asia because we don't see any of that on social media, we don't see, like China for example, they don't have Facebook, they don't have Twitter, so they have their own platform going on there, but it doesn't mean that they don't listen to my stuff, to all our stuff. I was shocked the first time I went to China to see how many people were singing along to my songs and to my tracks and how receptive they were of what I'm doing and so we started to also do a radio show there with my label, bitbird, and it's being broadcast there now and people are really receptive of new music. They're really eager as well.
And speaking of that, what is your favorite kind of reception from fans?
Honestly, sometimes people [are] at the show and they are just standing there, listening, and I first start to think "Oh, they're bored" or something, or like, I should be more energetic, I have to jump around, but I still have to realize [that there are some] people that really don't, they just listen, might actually be the biggest [kind of] music fans there are [at] festivals. They just stand there in the back, just listening and I really appreciate those people because they don't care if I really scream, "One, two, three, jump," or something, they don't care about that stuff. They just want to hear me play guitar and like do my thing. But, honestly, actually, everyone at the shows ... whatever you want to do, if you want to jump that's fine, if you want to dance around that's fine, if you want to do nothing that's fine, as long as you feel something.
What have you been listening to these days?
I've been listening to so much. I think actually they're from Austin, Explosions In The Sky, do you know that band? You know it, I think they're pretty big here, actually. They're actually big all over the world. When I first heard their music about 10 years ago, it changed my life, and their way of playing guitar is definitely a big inspiration on what I'm doing right now. So Explosions In The Sky, check that band out, they're incredible.
Where do you want to go from here, what are your career goals?
My career goals [are] to make music that I feel excited about, and I want to make people feel something, whether that's anything. People can hate my album, they can love my album, as long as they feel something and then I'm happy. The worst thing to get when people are talking about your music is, like, "I don't know, it's okay." I want people to hate or love it and that's the goal, to make something that people feel something with. I don't know.
That's my main. It's just to create, I just want to create music and emotions.
How does it feel to be playing at ACL, and what do you think makes this festival special?
I really love Austin in general. I just did another interview and I told them, I wish I could stay here for a month to really breathe in the Austin culture. I feel like everyone here is very open-minded for some reason and you can do whatever you want. Like if you want to do crazy stuff or be this extravagant person, everyone just appreciates you. Is 'extravagant' a word, an English word, extravagant? Is that a word? Sometimes, okay, I'm from Holland so I'm not too good at those words, but I feel people are just really appreciative of who you want to be here and, yeah, I think that's one of the many reasons why I'm happy to be here.