Common Holly brings unique sound to music festivals

Dark Matter caught up with Brigitte Naggar, better known as Common Holly, ahead of her playing Audiotree Music Festival in Kalamazoo, Michigan this upcoming weekend.

Solitaire Records released her first album, Playing House, in 2017. The LP showcases Naggar’s versatile artistry of contorting contrivances to accompany her soft, angelic-like voice to verbalize the emotions and thoughts that come along with an ending relationship and being by yourself again.

It looks like you got some time off from touring this summer after a busy spring and are starting it back up again; with recent events, how do you take care of yourself and make sure it doesn't become too much?

I think I’m still trying to figure out the whole touring life thing. It seems to me that the hardest parts are leaving my life behind and then coming back drained and unsure of what to do with myself. I know that people these days are looking more and more into the effects of touring on mental health and I think that’s a big and important topic for us musicians. At this point I think it’s crucial to know my limits, and to make constructive plans for the home time that I do get to have.

What's one of the largest differences for you between playing festivals over shows? Is it a bit more laid back?

I think that small festivals can be really amazing, and a great chance to meet peers in the field and see them put on a great show. I definitely wouldn’t call a festival laid back though, haha. I’d say it wavers between really fun and totally overwhelming.

How do you figure out a setlist? Is there a strategy to it?

It’s hard! I usually play the end of a song and see what flows naturally from my brain following that. It takes a few tries though.

Photo by Sean Mundy.

Have you been to Kalamazoo before?

I’ve never been to Kalamazoo. Love the name.

Are there any bands you're really looking forward to seeing at Audiotree?

Absolutely. I’d love to see Palm, Diet Cig, Real Estate, and pretty much everyone else.

Do you actually get a day off to have a good time at the festival and listen to the music?

Yes, we’re getting in a day early and then playing first on day 2 so we’ll get to enjoy the rest of the day!

Your last release was in 2017; have you been testing out new music?

I’ve got a second LP just about ready to be heard. In the meantime I’ll definitely be previewing some new tunes at the festival!

How do you think growing up in Canada affected your style of writing?

It occurred to me recently that a lot of my earliest influences are Canadian. Leonard Cohen, Feist, Metric, Chad VanGaalen, Joni Mitchell, Andy Shauf, etc etc.

Your music is undeniably emotional. Do you think it's important to have a variety of sounds at a festival?

I think it’s really easy to get caught up in the idea that you have to sound really big to stand out at a music festival. I love the idea of offering an alternative to that. Our set is early on in the day so I think it’ll be well suited to that.

Common Holly plays Sunday at Audiotree at 12 p.m. on the WIDR FM Stage.