Volume 91, Issue 56

Thursday, January 8, 1998

El nino


Fighting to be the top

©Patrice Bilavka
NOW, WHERE THE HELL DID I PUT MY BOOBIES? Holly McNarland shows her Stuff tonight at Call the Office (not that kind of stuff – the music!).

By Lisa Weaver

Gazette Staff

Holly McNarland is an extremely passionate songstress, whose music and live performances are very much in-your-face and almost exhaustive for such a tiny Canadian girl who is quickly gaining recognition in the music industry.

Calling from Vancouver, on a break between shows, McNarland is sleepy and apologetic. She has been touring with her band across the U.S. and will continue across Ontario to the East Coast. "When I come home for the four or five days I get off, or the two days I get off, I want to know where I'm going," admits McNarland.

How did this Winnipeg-born musician get her start? McNarland states her family as a big supporter of her career, as her mother played guitar and sang and there was always music in their home. She also names others – Michael Jackson, Paul Simon, Sarah McLachlan, Ani Difranco, Sinead O'Connor – as musical influences at some point in her life. "Cats, the musical... I used to sing to that," adds McNarland. "I'd sing "Memory" all the time. My grade five teacher brought [the recording] in to show the class and we all loved it."

Is the Holly McNarland of the present the same artist who recorded the independent EP Sour Pie in '95? "I think so... I mean I'd like to think so." McNarland doesn't seem too sure. "I'd like to think I changed too – and grew. I'm a couple of years older. My life has changed. But I don't think I've changed."

In some ways, Sour Pie is an EP of songs which contains much more sexual imagery than her latest CD, Stuff. But when asked if she agrees, McNarland is quick to dispute the issue. "I think if somebody's going to take it that way then that's what they want to hear. But, no, it's not all about sex. There's a little bit about sex in every song, in everyone's stuff, if that's what you want to hear. I mean, 'Mr. Five Minutes', that's blatant." McNarland goes on to explain how it was simply a funny change of spelling which lead people to believe the song "Cry or Cum" was about sex.

But McNarland doesn't mind if listeners don't get exactly what she means in a song. "That's what music is for, you sort of take it and turn it," she theorizes. "When I hear a song I like I usually try to figure out what the song is about. I'd say 99 per cent of the time I'm probably off a bit – or wrong. But that's good, 'cause that's what music's for."

McNarland is always writing from her own perspective and feels that a song must be close to a person in order to have some truth. "What bugs me the most about listening to a song is when I kind of know the person... you don't even have to know them, but you see interviews," she reveals, "and it's like you know that that's probably not where they're coming from, but they're writing it anyhow. It's like the "poor me" syndrome. Everyone has hard times and when you write, that's the easiest way to get it down. For me, it's just kind of what I do."

Holly McNarland has one singular goal for the future– to keep making music. "I'm going to fight every step of the way to keep doing what I'm doing because I love it. It's a great career and a great job and it's a great life. So if I can keep doing this, I'll be happy."

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright © The Gazette 1998