The Vintage Victorian

photograph by Jessica Tremp

Freya Josephine Hollick is an Old-Timey, Country, Folk singer/songwriter from the Victorian Goldfields. Hollick has always had her roots in folk music, coming to earlier 20th Century folk, blues and country music through a hunger for knowledge of how and from where modern music evolved. Freya has followed a path back to a time that holds true to her voice, her songwriting and her story. Hollick's voice has been described as haunting, as both powerful and fragile, it is truly a voice unlike any other, and one that is of another time. 

Many conversations with Hollick centre around her uncertainty as to where her songs and stories come from, "They seem to fall out of the sky at any time of day, and they pester you 'til you sit down and write it out... makes for a pretty disorganised life". Hollick has said she often wakes late in the night, with a melody, or a line and, as commanded, stays up with the song until it is all out and whole. When asked about her process, she is certain that there isn't really a process, that any time she tries to write, without it coming to her "as an apparition of sorts", that the effort is audible in the song, and "that sure doesn't make for easy listening" which is what she is all about.  

Her parents would listen to music almost constantly as she and her siblings grew up. They listened to everything from Emmylou Harris, to Etta James, Sonic Youth, Ed Keupper, Bill Frisell, Sun Ra, Beastie Boys, Brian Eno, Massive Attack, Townes Van Zandt, Yo La Tengo, Steve Young, John Lee Hooker, Gene Clark and many more. As a result of so much exposure to wide variety of great music, Freya found her way through noise bands, experimental improvisational music, folk and of course country music across the past twelve years performing throughout Victoria.

Hollick immerses herself in her songs and the stories they tell, and it is no secret that she has certainly come through trials of her own in recent history. Her own life story, tells tales much like those in the heartbreaking country tunes of yesteryear that she has come to love so much. Her live performances are often candid, her banter between songs becomes more of a refreshingly honest and often darkly humorous account of her lived experience. Her own songs such as Way Over Yonder With You and A Heart That Burns are truly stunning examples of her heartbreak in song.

To hear her perform live is not only an exceptional experience because of her own stories but also what she brings to the songs of others. Her rendition of Dolly Parton's I Will Always Love You, is enough to both chill you to the bone and wrap you in a warm embrace. This song in particular highlights what a powerful voice Hollick has and her aptitude for phrasing and tone.

Hollick returned to music late in 2015, after the birth of her daughter Opal, with a string of shows around the country through 2016 upon the release of her latest album The Unceremonious Junking of Me, including supports for Willie Watson (ex Old Crow Medicine Show), Joe Pug (USA) and appearing as a guest singer with Robert Ellis and The Perfect Strangers after shows at Out On The Weekend.

The album was recorded over three days in Ballarat's Historical Main Road building, The Main Bar, by engineer Myles Mumford (Rolling Stock Recording Rooms, Collingwood). This record bears particular significance for Freya as all the tracks on this album were recorded live to tape, no overdubs, no fancy business, just beautiful old equipment, intimate playing, and a first musical venture for her post-birth. 

The collection of songs that appear on The Unceremonious Junking of Me are full of old-world charm and heartache, spawned from the experience of childbearing, motherhood and failed relationships. The follow up to 2014’s Beauty and Sorrow, is steeped in the darkness of the country and blues of yesteryear, intertwined with a saccharine of fragile folkisms.

The Unceremonious Junking of Me is an album of sweet sounding country tunes written and performed by Hollick with accompaniment from Pete Fidler on Dobro and Mandolin, and Kat Mear on Fiddle. 

Have a listen to the single here.

If you like country music including acts like The Carter Family, Dolly Parton, Gillian Welch, Patsy Cline and old-time Appalachian music, then Freya Josephine Hollick's music is for you. Her voice and songs are some of the most authentic country getting around, and will certainly take you back through time to the front porches of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.

Be prepared for the release of a new studio EP of some of Hollick's more recent tracks to appear in the coming months (March/April of 2017). A move away from the traditionalist sound of The Unceremonious Junking of Me, the EP was recorded over four days at Union Street Studio, Melbourne, produced by Roger Bergodaz (Lost Ragas) and Shane Reilly (Lost Ragas, Tex Perkins), featuring brilliant accompaniment by them both, and Kat Mear on fiddle.

All photographs by Jessica Tremp.