Six Questions for ... Holly Golightly

Here's what I wrote about Holly Golightly when I reviewed her show at Iota last year:
"Holly Golightly is the kind of person that can make you start to believe in past lives. The veteran garage rocker is as British as they come -- she confused pretty much everyone at Iota on Friday night by using the word "lorry" to describe a truck -- but the music she plays couldn't be more distinctly American. After a decade of bashing out high-quality garage rock, Golightly's muse has drifted to pre-rock-and-roll-era sounds of country, blues and folk. And she pulls it off so convincingly that you start to wonder if she didn't inhabit some soul from the Mississippi Delta of the 1930s."

Like clockwork, Golightly is back with another album this year, "Dirt Don't Hurt," again with the Brokebacks, which is just one guy, Lawyer Dave, playing guitar, drums and other various instruments, often at the same time. (See video below.) It's another album steeped in the sounds of the old American south, and like every album in her vast discography, it's a winner. She kicks off her American tour tonight at Iota, and recently chatted about her new sound, staying prolific and the worst part about playing music.

This is your third album of the new, rootsy sound, and the second album with the duo. How do you feel about this new chapter in your career?
I'm really happy with it. When we did the first one we didn't really have any plans for that. We did that just because we had talked about doing it for a long time. And we were really happy with the way it came out. And we were just going to play some shows and take CDs to shows, we weren't going to give it to a label or do anything else with it. And as it turned out we did a little tour, we did three weeks, up and down the east coast, it was the first thing we did, before the record was out or anything. And it was good and easy and we liked doing it life, so we thought, "Well, we'll do more of that then." (Laughs.) And that's how I feel about it. I'm really pleased with the way it's gone but it's quite unexpected and not really engineered. It wasn't by design.

What is about those old American sounds that made you want to go in that direction?
In terms of what I listen to, it's not that far removed. I don't actually know anything about country music, really. And I don't know if what I do has been influenced subconsciously because I hear it from time to time. But it's not the sort of music I sit at home and listen to. So I don't feel like I'm an aficionado at all. It just comes out the way it comes out.

You've released roughly an album per year over the past 15 years. How do you stay so prolific?
When I think about it I don't really think about it in terms of having a huge output. And I know that sounds smug, in a way, but it isn't. I just write songs. It's something I sit at home and do. And I'd be doing it whether they'd be going onto records or not. But I write at least 12 songs a year, and that does constitute an album. I think of it as an ongoing thing. I don't think of it as particularly prolific. I think of it as a nice going rate. It's not hard work for me to do it. I don't need to spend six months in a studio to get a single together. It's just not how I operate. It's just something I would do irrespective. I don't think of it as being hard work, really. I just wish I had more time to do it. I don't have enough time to do what I actually like to do, and that's sit and play guitar and make up songs.

(More after the jump.)

Recently, your name was added to the list of foreign performers who had trouble getting into the country to play shows. What was that about?
It was when I was getting my visa last year. I can't really work out why it was. I think it was supposed to be an expedited application that should have only taken two weeks. I did the application really well in advance. They kept asking for more information. Because I'm not in the public eye, if the people who work at the visa office haven't heard of you, to apply for the kind of visa I was trying to get ... I think they just wanted more evidence. They probably just didn't want me to come to the country and bum around and claim social security. I have no idea why it took so long, but it did. But we did have to cancel the first few shows, which was a bit [expletive].

Even with your vast discography, it seems like you are still often connected to a couple of people you've worked with in the past, Billy Childish and the White Stripes. Does that ever get annoying?
I really try to not think about it, because it is the first thing that you're ever going to read about me. And it invalidates everything I do. (Laughs.)
Is this some weird sexist thing?
I don't know, I don't know. I think it's just that people have those reference points, that's all it is. I don't think of it in any other way. But it does kind of immediately say that you should notice it because it's allied to something else as opposed to you should notice it because it's good. You know what I mean? It sort of invalidates a bit. I don't really care, if that's somebody's reference point I'd rather somebody write something nice about the record than not write anything at all.

Do you ever feel like you'll go back to playing the garage rock stuff?
Well I played it a couple of weeks ago with the full lineup. We just haven't had a lot of time to do that. I have always just tried to do one thing from each other record. We've had the same staples of the live set for years, so we don't really have to rehearse it. We just have to work it out in soundcheck. Rehearsing, that's the worst part of playing music. I hate it!

By David Malitz |  November 6, 2008; 9:15 AM ET Interviews
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