Holly Williams exclusive interview
In country music, the Williams family is a legendary clan. Patriarch Hank Williams paved the way for hundreds of country acts that followed including his son Hank Williams, Jr. The second generation Williams is known for many things -- most famously, All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight. Now the family's pride and joy, Holly Williams has made her musical announcement with the release of her CD, Here with Me.
Hank Jr's daughter and Hank Sr's granddaughter, Holly, is back with her second album, Here With Me.
Holly Williams certainly has the DNA, the experience through her family and the innate talent to forge a country music career all her own.
Holly has done exactly that. Initially, SheKnows was supposed to chat with Holly last week, but her appearance on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, forced the singer to ring us from her home this last week of June.
Her Here With Me CD is a bounty of instant country classics. Where Holly Williams stops next at the rate she's going, is her own spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame next to her father and grandfather.
SheKnows: How has life been since Here With Me debuted?
Holly Williams: You know...I've seen your name a lot.
SheKnows: No way! I recently spoke with Julianne Hough and heard that article made the rounds in Nashville.
Holly Williams: Yeah, that's it!
SheKnows: Well, I lost out to The Tonight Show initially for your time.
Holly Williams: That's right!
SheKnows: I can live with coming in second to Conan O'Brien and The Tonight Show any day of the week.
Holly Williams: Yeah, seriously! It was amazing. I never thought I'd be doing the Tonight Show with my mom. That was a really cool part of it. And I'm a huge Conan freak. I love doing TV. It really doesn't make me nervous. At a TV set, it doesn't really feel like millions of people are watching. It's like a ballroom, intimate setting. A show in front of 20 family members makes me more nervous that appearing on TV or a big arena. Most artists, it's the opposite. It was quick and easy. Conan got us front-of-line passes for Universal and they took us on a back lot set tour.
SheKnows: It's one thing to put all your music on a CD, how has the reaction been for you since Here With Me's release?
Holly Williams: I've gotten really amazing press. I haven't read one bad article and people have been really positive and responsive. It's kind of the resting point. For me, studio is the hardest work. Studio is hardest because it's always so difficult to make an album sound the way you sound live. I want to keep that raw emotion and realness in making them feel like they're sitting next to you in the car and you're singing. That's how I want the music to sound. It's great to have it out there and playing it for people. I'm been opening up different fan bases doing a lot from Sugarland tours to club dates with myself to the UK, a lot new people are seeing me. It's nice to get in front of a new audience. I got my old stand-bys from the first record. They came out to my show the other night in Virginia. It's nice finally have it out there.
Holly's Here with Me
SheKnows: You are a co-producer on the album. Does that add any pressure to the process?
Holly Williams: On the first CD I was the same way. I can't ever simply go into the studio to sing and then leave. I know the musicians, I know which bass players I like, which drummers...you know? I love being in there for every last lick. It's more of a patience thing. When you have all of these machines and five million different kinds of pianos and drum sticks and guitars -- it's still about trying to keep it simple. It's more of a challenging thing, but I enjoy that part of the challenge. People didn't have nearly this much to work with 20 years ago.
SheKnows: Seriously, even your father, but especially your grandfather.
Holly Williams: Now, it's easy to go in there an get overwhelmed with all that stuff. I feel I've done it enough now that I have a pretty clear idea of what I want it to sound like.
SheKnows: Has the songwriting process evolved for you over the years?
Holly Williams: The process hasn't changed, but the longer you do something, you get better at it. I'm more confident vocally. I feel better playing the piano. The first album, there was a talking tone to my voice and I've discovered how much I love to belt it out and sing. I think the writing matures. I've had more life experience and know more about my instruments. I've always trying to take it to a higher level.
SheKnows: Where do your influences come from because knowing your familial background, some may think your sound would be different?
Holly Williams: First, I'm going to subtract everything before the age of 18, because I was all about New Kids on the Block (laughs), before I knew more about music (laughs). The first albums I really fell in love with was Closing Time from Tom Waits. That's my favorite record of all time. There's Blood on the Tracks from Dylan, Harvest from Neil Young, Tapestry by Carole King — kind of everyone's singer-songwriters. I listen to Jackson Browne, Jeff Buckley's great. It doesn't have to be folk music. I thin Keith Urban's a great songwriter. I think Chris Martin's a good songwriter.
Following family footsteps
SheKnows: What was it about music that you found too irresistible?
Holly Williams: It's the one thing that has been with me since I was a child. I was writing songs at a very young age -- 8, 9 and 10 I began writing heavily. It's the same thing with lyrics and melody coming to me. I didn't play an instrument at the time. I would just write down the songs in my song folder. I always loved exploring that. Even when I did some local modeling and acting -- I also thought I was going to be an interior designer -- but I remember at my high school, they said what are you going to be when you grow up? I'm going to be a musician. They said that doesn't count. You have to have a real plan. So, I lied and said I was going to college -- I never did. I started playing clubs. Writing was always natural to me. I have a clothing store now. I'm still into fashion and design and all those things, but music was always number one to me.
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