HOLIDAY SIDEWINDER IS THE NEW AGE POP STAR QUESTIONING GENDER ROLES IN ARCHIVE VERSACE FOR HER LATEST SINGLE LEO.
It's been four years since BLACK last checked in with Holiday Sidewinder - we caught up with the Aussie songbird to talk musical evolution & sexual liberation.
Your sound has changed drastically since 2014's Carousel, what have you been up to and what has inspired the new direction?
Well, I somehow ended up running a gym with my personal trainer (who became my boyfriend, of course). He was a Hindu Punjabi man and I lapped up his knowledge of Bollywood, muscles, and spirituality. I was a dreamy 21 year old when I moved to London, immersed in the Soho Trad-Jazz scene and hammond heavy gospel music. That was the influence behind Carousel. I was writing with Mike Chapman (Blondie, Suzi Q, Tina Turner, Pat Benatar) at the time, which was totally life affirming.
I then was diagnosed Bi-Polar II, fled to Hollywood, and invited a lot of excitement and drama into my life ; I broke my arm falling off a hot pink bicycle, nearly married a Cuban conceptual artist 2hrs before a long-haul flight, sold cinnamon buns for a week and relied on the kindness of fabulous gay fairygodfathers with grand pianos and wig collections. I sold all my earthly belongings for a pound and found myself touring the globe playing 115 shows with Alex Cameron over the last year. Dive bars in Warsaw, river boats in France, stadiums across the USA - Madison Square Gardens!
Life has been absolutely bonkers.
You go through several musical phases over a lifetime and it’s always reflective of the events in your life ; they go hand in hand. I like to leave no stone unturned. These are the results. I’d call it an evolution rather than a new direction.
How did people initially respond to the change of sound?
People seem excited and suprised, which I’m over the moon about! Some of my more intellectually musical friends are slightly horrified by the glossier and simpler sounds I think, but that spurs me on to push it further in that direction. But the pop crowd think I’m edgy - I want to create a stir and push the envelope. My greatest fear is being middle of the road or god forbid, dull. It’s exciting for people to see a musical personality emerge in it’s full, glorious, unabated form.
How did the concept of Leo as a song come to fruition?
Quite literally, I was down and out, on the rebound, drinking mojitos after a show in Zurich, Switzerland when an absurdly handsome Italian man approached me. We had a super fun time backstage, got kicked out of the venue for it, and as we tottered out he placed a chain around my neck with a key to his house on it. I couldn’t remember his name and had no idea what his address was. I thought it was just a funny concept and a great way to start a song.
We would slam ACDC T.N.T before every show to get us in the mood. It’s the most hilariously macho song, maybe it’s about Ned Kelly? It’s got the lyric “lock up your daughters, lock up your wives” in it which would crack me up every time, and I was desperate to flip it in a song and see how people would react.
What is the song about?
It’s really just a cheeky fem-musing about unashamedly regaining your sexual agency and freedom; separating romantic emotional intimacy from romantic physical intimacy, and reminding people (women especially) that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing that if you want to. It’s a call to male lovers, inspired by some great men I have had the joy of being with, to be generous, eager to learn, present, appreciative and unpossessive.
Leo is a reminder to lady lovers that they can enjoy the same, and they don’t have to buy the story that’s drilled into us from a young age ; that we’re always looking for more emotional (as opposed to physical) intimacy than men are.
Break your own rules and motivations, or question them at least. Read Testosterone Rex by Cordelia Fine!!
Not to be preachy or anything *shrug.
What was the experience of creating the video?
A dream come true. The director, Thom Kerr is simultaneously Wanda The Good Witch and The Wizard from the Wizard Of Oz in my life. A heaven send. He is able to hear my ideas and not only realise them, but catapult them in to the stratosphere. I was overwhelmed by the talent and generosity of the cast and crew, who all came on board in the name of art with the intention of collectively creating something truly special and iconic. Their blind faith in me and belief in the project propelled me and my performance, and continues to do so. I owe it to them to get my act out into the world so we can continue to make great work together as a team. It’s very exciting. I mean, we put this together in one week, completely independently. We found the boys on instagram. We found Emma Trask (the stylist) at a rooftop pool party. I called choreographer Lori Eastside (an old family friend) two days before the shoot. At one point, I looked around and Iggy Azalea's assistant was running playback for us. Everyone hauled ass and brought their A game. It was mutually thrilling for all involved, to feed off that buzz.
Were the men really naked on the set of the video?
Hell yes. I manifested my own fantasy. I was so proud of the boys for being so brave and professional - completely nude in front of an entire cast and crew of strangers!
We picked them for their hot bods and beautiful faces, so it was an added bonus that they were the sweetest people on earth too. I absolutely fell in love with them all. I’m forever grateful for them, together we created a really magnetic and exciting atmosphere that made the video what it is.
Your next body of work is titled 'Forever or Whatever', what can people expect from the album?
A trawler full of hooks, MJ/Madonna/Prince style beats and bass lines, bizzaro lyrics (MA 15+ here and there), a whole lotta love, a picnic basket of laughs, and maybe one single tear rolling down a chubby cheek. It’s a tapestry of sexual and romantic scenarios and existentialism. Musings on moments in time. I like veiling a sad or complex song with a poppy sound. I guess I’m hoping to (not-so-subliminally) spark some thought and discussion around materialism, sexism and normative societal narratives and expectations - planted desires for a fulfilled life that I want to challenge and question. But I mean really, dropping the pretension, its just a bangin’ pop record.
What is the reality of being an independent musician working in the pop genre?
It’s liberating in the sense that I have the time and space to create to the beat of my own drum, without influence or interference ; solidifying my sound and visual world. It’s also incredibly limiting without the budgets and support to fulfil bigger creative visions. Working within confines forces you to be more imaginative and resourceful though, and can often lead to great and/or unexpected results.
What do you think makes a great pop song?
Engaging lyrics, undeniable melodies that take you with them, tension and release, intrigue and palpable electricity. I’m a sucker for a timeless groove that you could dance to for 12 minutes without realising it’s still the same song. Anything that makes you feel free and powerful, touched or understood.
Where can we follow your adventures?
Instagram Stories? No selfies, food, babies, cats or dogs... Promise!
I can write War and Peace, as you’ve learnt from this interview, so you’ll enjoy my being stifled by a word limit on Twitter too..
Video by Thom Kerr
Interview by Jovita Lee