Origin: Winnipeg, Manitoba - Vancouver, British Columbia
Holly McNarland is back. The singer-songwriter with the unique whisper-to-a-scream voice has released Run Body Run, her first independent release.
She has no shackles to the music industry and is free to make music when she wants, how she wants and with whom she wants. The album is the result of over a year’s work, in and out of the studio, and for her represents a move to become closer to her fans.
“When I was with a label, I felt very far from and separated from my fans outside of playing shows. Now there’s no separation—I’m not using an agent, a manager, or a record label. I’m going to my fans directly for support via social networking and it’s been amazing. Seeing how much people will back something up when they truly believe in it and feel connected has made me want to be a part of the music world again.”
Since moving back to Toronto with her family, the mother of two, who has a JUNO Award, and gold and platinum albums under her belt, has been writing for other artists, as well as composing her own songs.
“I started thinking of just playing,” she says. Through her son’s school, she met other musician parents and began getting encouragement to put together a new band. She booked a show in Toronto, and it sold out. “I hadn’t played in a band in four years. It was a really good feeling to come back to that.”
Holly first burst on the music scene with her 1995 independent EP, Sour Pie, and 1997 major label debut, Stuff, which was certified platinum. She won a Juno for Best New Solo Artist in 1998, and toured all across North America, performing for thousands. Home Is Where My Feet Are came in 2002, followed four years later by the acoustic EP titled The Komrade Sessions, a recording she says she did “Dogma-style and just for me.”
Chin Up Buttercup was released in 2007, featuring stand-out tracks, “Sad Songs, “Dry As A Bone”, and “Every Single Time”.
The title track on Run Body Run was inspired by her daughter, who was 3 years old when Holly wrote the song. “Hearing her tell herself that she can do anything is really inspiring— like she can do anything with words.” “It took me a long time to make this record and I’m really close to the songs- I had five years of songwriting to choose from so I took my time and chose all of my favorites. The songs on this album kind of bridge the gap for me as a songwriter, between the country I grew up singing with my Mom, and the rock my voice leans towards.”
Outside of her pop-rock career, Holly also acknowledged and embraced her Metis roots, performing at some of Canada’s most important Aboriginal events, such as headlining the 2004 National Aboriginal Achievement Awards in Calgary, and being highlighted, alongside Buffy Sainte-Marie, at the 2008 Celebration of Aboriginal Canadian Women.
Now, between parenting, Holly writes whenever the mood strikes, triggered by things around her- people, places, film and other media.
“I love the way things have changed. I don’t want to be signed. I like calling the shots and I’m not really comfortable being told what to do, what to wear, what I can and can’t say in the press. When I try to describe what the music industry is for me, in 2012, the first words that pop into my head are: Generation Password.”
“I have a book of passwords that connect me directly to my fans.
It’s a pretty great place to sit.”