Describing themselves as “fiercely and fearlessly queer,” STRAIGHT GIRL is is the alias of Leeds-based composer and producer Holly Readman. The non-binary eletro-punk is a master at exorcising their demons and developing them into their own brand of “grave rave” sounds. We caught up with Holly to talk about their new single ‘Limón’, what their thoughts are about the Leeds music scene and what a “well-mannered gang of pixies are bashing down your door with war-hammers” sounds like…
How are you? How have you been finding Lockdown 2.0?
For the most part I’m chill (and thank you for asking!!!) I had to move back up north for “Lockdown 2: Electric Boogaloo” because I’ve had problems with my work and getting furloughed, but it’s meant I can at least take full advantage of the massive bath at my mam’s house so, swings and roundabouts???
You’ve just released your new single ‘Limón’. Talk us through what it sounds like & what it’s about…
The song is a re-envisioned and re-mastered version of one of the first songs I birthed unto the world under my original solo title N/\L/\. It sounds like a very well-mannered gang of pixies are bashing down your door with war-hammers. In a delicious little nutshell, ‘Limón’ is about shame. When I first wrote it I was very stressed and unhappy with the person I was, I was making a lot of decisions and saying things to people that even *I* didn’t agree with. I felt very disconnected within myself and I would picture it as someone was squeezing my head like a lemon until all this horrible, sour, bitter shit came out. It feels like a massive victory to now be releasing a better, stronger version of this song when I now feel like a better, stronger version of myself.
That’s good to hear! We know you’re based in Leeds – so pre-pandemic – what was your favourite thing about the Leeds music scene? How does it compare to other cities?
For me the community behind the music scene in Leeds simply does not compare. While it can be critical, it’s never competitive and we all support and even inspire each others successes. There is so much pure love within the Leeds music scene. I can without a shadow of a doubt say that living there for most of my formative adult years has been the most solid foundation behind my career as a musician.
You recently spoke to BBC Introducing about your experiences as a self-taught producer. Can you share a little bit of this wisdom with us?
I studied music production at college and then later again at university, but I quickly realised that learning to produce in an educational environment was not the way that worked for me and I dropped out of uni (twice). I ended up saving up to buy Logic Pro and just working on that a little bit every day by myself. I am very privileged to have the network I do in Leeds, so practically every single person I knew was a musician or a producer, it meant every conversation I was having I was learning something new or getting inspired in some sort of way. I still feel my knowledge of production is pretty basic, but as long as I can scream and roll around on a sticky beer soaked basement of a club in front of complete strangers (“Siri, define ‘global pandemic’?”) then the job is done and I am happy.
Do you have any advice for aspiring electronic musicians? Has anyone offered you advice about music that you’ve found helpful?
This is not specifically aimed at electronic musicians, but one of the things I spoke about on the production masterclass for BBC Introducing was how I don’t think I would have gotten anywhere if I hadn’t learned to lean on people. I honestly think now that my music means so much to me because I share it and develop it with so many people. My advice always is just to talk to everyone you can about your music, because even if they don’t have advice or insight they can give you, more often than not people are still impressed and think making music is cool and getting compliments is sooo sick.
We know you’re working on a new release for 2021. What details can you tell us about this?
It’s gay as hell!!!!!!!!
Finally, are there any bands or artists you can recommend we listen to?
Right now I am thinking about Team Picture’s debut album The Menace of Mechanical Music, the same way I have literally been thinking about it non-stop since June. Also, Anna Meredith, if you are reading this please know I am free to hang out next Saturday if you are free and would like to hang out next Saturday when I am also free.
Thanks to Holly for answering our questions!
Order your copy of ‘Limón’ on 7″ vinyl here.
Photo Credit: Andrew Benge (@andrewbenge)