Soho Rising’s Holly Humberstone is a force of alt-pop nature

Still of  young woman singing living with white text over

For the second instalment of our Soho Rising video series, we caught up with the indie-pop sensation ahead of her intimate performance at White City House

Filmed by Nas Abraham    Words by Gisselle Babaran

Holly Humberstone’s creative output (and subsequent achievements) over the past year have been nothing short of astonishing. In spite of various challenges brought on by the pandemic, the singer-songwriter has still managed to become one of the biggest breakthrough UK pop acts of 2021. 

Shortly before lockdown, Humberstone toured alongside Lewis Capaldi as a support act on his European tour. Yet it wasn’t until the release of the 21-year-old’s debut EP, Falling Asleep At The Wheel, last summer that her star began to rise. It’s since prompted close to 100 million streams worldwide; an impressive feat considering it was recorded out of the artist’s bedroom in Grantham, a small market town in England’s East Midlands, where she grew up. 

Since then, she’s been named the BBC’s Sound of 2021 runner-up, selected as Apple Music’s Up Next Artist, and performed stateside (virtually, that is) on The Late Late Show With James Corden and Jimmy Kimmel Live, which has won her fans across the Atlantic, too. 

Known for her emotive lyrics and twisted dark pop, Humberstone describes her sound as ‘dark, wonky electronic-pop’. She also explains that her sound speaks to her own music tastes – ‘my main influences are people with really personal, cutting lyrics,’ she says. 

Portrait of young woman with black and red patterned jumper
Portrait of young woman with black and red patterned jumper

Humberstone recalls the music of Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Damian Rice, and Bon Iver playing as a child. Growing up, her parents passed on their creative interests (her mother was a cellist in her youth and her father kept a cabinet full of poetry anthologies) down to her and her three sisters – encouraging the younger Humberstone to pursue music and song-writing.

Like most artists, Humberstone admits to experiencing moments of creative block, ‘I’ve learned from the last year that I’m not always inspired and motivated’ she tells us. The advice she gave to aspiring artists that followed? ‘Just be easy, kind, and patient to yourself.’

Looking ahead, the Grantham singer-songwriter is set to release her next album at the end of this year with Polydor Records, Darkroom and Interscope Records (joining a roster of names which include Billie Eillish). She also has a UK tour to prepare for with already sold out London dates. 

A rising star already, it’s only a matter of time for Holly Humberstone to cement her position as one of the defining pop voices for the years to come. 

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