Interview: Meet Toronto house/garage duo HolloH

Interview by Tiffany Lam

Meet local DJ / producer duo, HolloH. Chances are, if you listen to tech house and frequent Embrace shows at the Hoxton or CODA, you may have heard some buzz about them. Based in and out of Toronto, they have supported and opened for a number of high-profile artists over the last few years, most recently Duke Dumont. Having already released a collection of singles via Rare Beef Records, the duo thrives as stand outs in the up-and-coming generation of electronic music producers. In this interview, we chat with Parker Nowlan and Nick Spencer about the start of HolloH, their last EP, and their success thus far.

Do you remember how HolloH started?
NS: Holloh is about 2 years old, but we started making music way before that. I remember one time we were at this huge house party and everyone was listening to gangster rap… There were hundreds of people there and this girl happened to have this really, really huge sound system in her house. We just walked up to the iPod dock and plugged in “Warp 1.9 ft. Steve Aoki” by The Bloody Beetroots – it had just came out that day pretty much. I’ll never forget that moment and how the place just went nuts. Then we were like, ‘yo we should be DJs’  [laughs].

What kind of electronic music is HolloH, in terms of subgenres?
PN: We play around with a lot of styles. House, garage and techno are probably our three core styles. We try to bridge them together, find this merging or contrasting area.
NS: Like that in-between techno and techno-house. I love that. We try to do that in our production, and then in our sets along with more classic stuff.

What has been your most memorable show?
PN: [Opening for] Bassment Jaxx was really cool, to be able to play along with absolute legends like that.
NS: Yeah, definitely I would say Bassment Jaxx.

Proudest moment so far?
PN: I was really proud with the last EP, it was the self-titled EP released via Rare Beef. There was very good response, albeit limited response but any article we found was very positive. It was the first time we sort of sat back and it felt good because before that, we had just sort of been writing songs in a vacuum and piecing them together – we’d show them five or six songs and they’d choose two or three. This one we came back to them a few months later with a more cohesive mini-album thing of six songs (four full-length songs and two bookends) and got to put that out. I was really proud of it.
NS: We put a lot of work into that EP in particular. I think for us too, when we first started, we didn’t expect anything… so when the first little thing happened, it was a really proud exciting moment and you’re so happy with that. And then, you get a release. Honestly, anything like that is a proud moment for us, we didn’t really expect any of it.

With so many DJs and producers on the rise in Toronto and around the world, what’s something that sets you guys apart from the rest and makes you unique?
NS: We’ve been through a few different shifts of what people are into and a few of the different scenes of music that have happened in Toronto, so we’ve seen the city grow a little bit which helps us understand it.
PN: Everything here is kind of “deep house”, so we try not to corner ourselves into one label like that. We try to play around with a bunch of different influences, cause we like a bunch of different stuff too and try to represent them all.

What are 3 things you could never live without?
NS: Well, definitely our laptops, cause without them we’d be screwed!
PN: [laughs] Yeah, that’s true, definitely that.
NS: My sanity… and PlayStation… really sad stuff like that. I got this new app that has every cartoon that’s ever been made and I can stream it. It changed my life.
PN: For me, I couldn’t live without… cheap champagne, my cast iron skillet and… Brie cheese, cause I put Brie in everything.

What’s the first show you remember going to?
PN: The first show I went to was April Wine, Mountain and Deep Purple when I was 14 years old. It rocked pretty hard.

Do you guys prefer festivals or smaller shows?
PN: I like the more intimate, smaller shows. I really like shows in unique, non-traditional venues, both for playing and going. The whole slapped together feel, you’re very much in the room with the people and I think that’s a really important connection.
NS: Yeah, same answer.

Camping festivals or day festivals?
NS: Campinggggg!
PN: There is something unique about camping festivals. The feeling on the last day when you’re absolutely haggard…
NS: And you can’t put your tent together, and your rights are lefts.

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