Subculture talks to Hollie Cook

Prince Fatty, Ziggy Marley & having a Sex Pistol for your dad

Thursday 3rd April 2014

With the release of her new album 'Twice' imminent, we speak to Hollie Cook about reggae, punk, working with Prince Fatty, supporting Ziggy Marley, having a Sex Pistol for your dad and more.

For anyone who hasn’t heard your music yet, how would you describe your sound?

I normally go for something along the lines of tropical, psychedelic, disco, lovers’ soul.

Tell us about your new album, ‘Twice’.

It’s my second album, it’s kind of different to my first one I think, even thought it’s got the same group of people, and I’m working with Prince Fatty again - the legendary producer. It’s got a big orchestra on a bunch of the songs, so it’s pretty disco and quite dramatic, and I’d say a little smoother and more soulful than the first album. I collaborate with Winston Francis, Dennis Bovell and George Decker - all on the same album - so I’m pretty excited.

You’re supporting Ziggy Marley in London next month, and you’ve recorded with Prince Fatty. How does it feel to work with such reggae greats?

It’s a pretty big honour to be honest. It’s a really interesting way to learn more about the sound, and when you know you’ve got to open for Ziggy Marley, it really makes you want to step up your game, and be the best that you can be. And I know that Prince Fatty worked with such great artists as well. It’s a pleasure and a privilege, and I think a compliment, that he wanted to make an album with me, let alone two albums, so it’s quite cool! 

As the daughter of a member of The Sex Pistols and a member of Culture Club, do you think it was in your DNA to become such a credible musician yourself?

A musician - yes, credible - thank you. I suppose I was never going to be a lawyer. I think it was inevitable that I was going to end up doing something more artsy or creatively involved in some way. Music and singing is where I’ve always felt super comfortable, and it’s wicked that I’ve had such a fine example set, and have two very creative and understanding parents, who’ve been majorly supportive and not freaked out when I didn’t want to go to university and get a sensible job.

And, is it true that Boy George is your Godfather?

Yes it is - he’s a good old friend of my mum’s. Though we prefer to call him my Godmother. 

As well as your solo projects you also joined the reformed line up of iconic punk band, The Slits. How did that come about?

That was a long time ago - almost ten years ago when I first got involved, Ari Up was putting a Slits line up back together, and was calling all of her musician friends to get in touch with their daughters. There were a few of us all the same age, who all grew up together. She wanted us to come and sing backing vocals on a chorus, like a big girl gang of vocals so I went and recorded that back in around 2005, and Ari invited me to come and sing when they did some live shows. I didn’t think that was going to turn into a reality of any sort but when it did it became my first real band experience, outside of playing with friends from school and whatever. I fell in love with it straight away - so I ran away with the circus, as it were.

Punk and reggae, as subcultures, have had an enduring relationship in the UK since Don Letts DJ'd at The Roxy in the late 1970s. Why do you think that is?

I don’t know I feel like there’s probably a similar mind frame and mentality to them both. Reggae itself is like a form of punk, it’s pretty DIY, a freedom to express yourself, and there’s a spirituality behind punk as well, the affinity between the two. They feel the same, despite being so obviously sonically different, the spirit and the energy of the two are completely married.

Who is your biggest style icon - and why?

I was always really into Debbie Harry. She’s foxy and always had an iconic style, and such a beautiful face. I love Poly Styrene as well because she was cool, scruffy and sweet.

If you could have any artist, dead or alive, cover you - who would it be?

Grace Jones - why not!

Finally, what’s the wildest story of your dad’s about the Sex Pistols, that you are allowed to tell us?

To be honest I don’t really know that many, but I was talking to my dad, literally yesterday, and he was telling me about a gig at The 100 Club, where Sid Vicious literally chained a guy up because he was a music journalist.


Find out more about Hollie Cook's upcoming album and live dates at holliecook.com, including her show with Ziggy Marley on 23rd April at Electric Brixton.

Listen to the title track from 'Twice' below:

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