You could argue that British reggae artist Hollie Cook was always destined to be a star. Born to Jeni Cook, backing singer for the Culture Club and daughter of Paul Cook, the drummer for the Sex Pistols. However, unlike most, Cook has paved out her own path. Now on her third full-length solo album Vessels of Love, the songstress is showing no signs of slowing down.
We catch up with Hollie to talk the inspiration behind her new LP, The Slits, touring and the lack of women in the music industry.
Describe your current state of mind?
I’m feeling very excited about my new album and upcoming tour. My state of mind is positive and motivated.
Did you get into a lot of trouble up when you were growing up in West London?
I definitely wasn’t a bad kid. I was no goodie, goodie though. Just a bit sneaky. I was pretty quiet and shy so I went fairly unnoticed if I skipped classes. The most trouble I got in was when I got caught smoking in the school grounds. That didn’t go down well.
What was the best advice you received growing up?
To believe in yourself.
So at what moment did you realise that music was your calling?
I think when I was around 11 when I went to secondary school. It was a performing arts school and of all the performance mediums, music and singing was the one that came most naturally and that I enjoyed the most. I was always very shy so it was a good way to bring me out of my shell and encourage me in that direction.
After leaving school at 19 you went on tour with The Slits, are there any key moments that stand out from that time?
The very first time I got on stage was a real key moment I think. That’s when I thought 'yeah I’m probably not going back to school'.
So how did The Slits get you into reggae?
The Slits were around in the seminal days of punk and reggae colliding musically and socially in London. That was long before my time though.
You soon after went on to work with Prince Fatty - how did he change your life?
He changed everything! Working with Fatty gave me more of a sense of direction and a place to belong and feel comfortable musically as far as pursuing a solo career.
Now let's get into the music, tell us about your latest album Vessel of Love?
I’m feeling very happy about it finally being out in the world. It’s a real relief! It’s been a very emotional process, but all very positive and I’m best pleased with the outcome. I hope people enjoy it. If not that’s ok too though.
Is there a certain message you are trying to get across with this album?
All the songs are pretty personal really, so quite selfishly I didn’t have a particular message in mind. - it’s been a big long therapy session but mostly it’s about various dynamics of love, and that we should all try and project as much of the stuff as possible into our lives.
In February you are going on tour, what can fans expect?
Expect some fun and silliness. Don’t expect any pyrotechnics, as the budget won’t allow it just yet.
We will also be seeing you at the Reggae Sun Ska festival in August, are you looking forward to the festival?
Very much so. I haven’t played it in years and I don’t think I’ve been to the new location yet. But a huge reggae festival in the south of France at the height of summer sounds fairly perfect, doesn’t it?
As a woman in reggae, why do you think there is such a lack of female presence in the scene?
I think it’s EVERY music scene, not just reggae. Why? Who knows. The whole industry is typically a big boys club. Not entirely but it’s changing hugely. Women are on the rise on both sides.
What can we do this change this?
Hire, sign and book more women.
What ideas changed your life?
The idea to leave school and join The Slits.
What would you fill a swimming pool with if it could be anything?
What's next for Hollie Cook?
My first UK headline tour is coming up at the beginning of February so I’m very excited for that. Also Europe and America in mid-Feb and March of course. I’m currently booking Summer festivals too. It’s been forever since I played live so hopefully, I will be mostly busy doing that.
Any last words?
Oh, I’m not one to speak more words than I need to.
You can find Hollie on Twitter // Facebook // Instagram