Once afraid, petrified of lost creativity, Bristol-based artist Holysseus Fly chooses to enter the main character stage of her life with a new wave of free-flowing sonic ideas without considering outside inhibitions.; she follows the creed “I can make gold out of something challenging.”
Her upcoming EP ‘Birthpool’ is due to be released in November; Holysseus Fly builds on the prevailing narrative of empowerment. Extending this theme through a feminist lens, the new single, ‘Teach Me,’ fights ‘loud, patronising, overpowering voices that assume they know better.’
The creative orbit of Holysseus Fly rejects being small, filtered, fabricated by an idea of perfection. Having experienced writing blocks, she allows creativity to show up on its own, nurturing it with patience and authentic inspiration. Her cancer diagnosis has previously altered her relationship with creativity and songwriting.
Today, Holyseus Fly shows up fierce, confident, and serene with her journey. Preparing for her upcoming UK shows in Bristol, London, and Manchester, Holysseus Fly promises an honest show elevated by the flamboyance of a Lady Gaga performance.
How was your Summer? What were some of your highlights?
Oh t’s been awesome thanks. Highlights include headlining a small festival outside of Bristol called Midsummer Groove, I headlined a festival for the first time and put on my dream show – it was really special. The best show I’ve seen this summer has to be Beyonce in London. It was unreal, I dance to Renaissance to get me out of bed in the morning. I also caught Christine and The Queens at Glastonbury Festival, now that was a piece of art.
How did you come up with your stage name Holysseus Fly?
It was actually my dad who gave me the nickname as a kid, he’s always coming up with funny names to call my sisters and I. He reminded me of it a few years back and I thought – actually that’s cool I want to embody that name!
Who are you as an artist?
I am an expressive singer/songwriter sharing my art with stories of hope against a backdrop of dark minimal textures. I would call myself a performance artist too, live performance is a really integral part of who I am.
What role does music play in your life and in your cancer recovery?
It’s interesting as it is both my natural outlet and now my work. It’s a vessel where I can say or be whoever I need to be at that moment. It brings me so much joy and allows me to express my deepest pain. It’s the way in which I can make gold out of something challenging.
Was it difficult to creatively delve into this journey?
It was difficult in the sense that I had to re-write my approach towards my creativity a couple of years into my recovery. I used to put so much pressure on myself to create the best song and also I was afraid that if I wrote about cancer it would become my identity as an artist. Because of all this, after treatment I stopped creating and had the worst writers block. I had to shake all of this off in order to create freely and allow myself to just write for the purpose of writing. That’s how this EP came out!
What is the main message behind your debut single ‘Marigold’?
Marigold describes how my relationship with my creativity and my cancer journey are so entwined, I was fearful of calls from the hospital whilst undergoing some yearly check ups and at the same time I was afraid that I had lost my creativity. Marigold is about how I needed to realise the truth that I was alive and well – and if I picked up the phone and leant my ear to my creativity – I would realise that it was alive and well too. It had never left, it was just asleep.
Could you expand on the inspiration behind your single ‘Bloom’ and the stunning visuals? Who came up with the concept of artist versus painter?
Bloom is about choosing to plant creations into the ground only for myself. It’s the process of making my debut EP, de-weeding negative critical thoughts and feeding the ideas time, water and wine to allow them to bloom.
The music video is a visual representation of this, it was so fun to film. At first you see the painters’ perception of me, I begin as their creation. When the song drops I take things into my own hands and write my own story. I worked with Jack Lilley, a brilliant Bristol director, he told me his idea and I said that we have to make it for this song!
How did you get into a place in your career where you feel grounded and self-assured?
Honestly I feel that’s a continuous journey of ups and downs. But I’ve wanted to do this my whole life so there’s no time for self doubt.
What can your fans expect from your upcoming UK live shows?
An honest show sharing my journey of creating my EP coupled with the showmanship of a Lady Gaga performance. I’m basically making my dream show with music I love. I am putting my all into crafting it!
Could you tell us more about your Glastonbury performance? Would you say that was a pinch-me-moment? I played Glastonbury in 2022 with Ishmael Ensemble on the legendary West Holts stage. It was absolutely wild as the first time we did it was in 2019 during my chemotherapy treatment. I was very emotional but also so elated to be back and on such a huge stage. It was incredible!
What helped you the most through your cancer treatment?
My family, close friends and my relationship with God.
What or who inspired your personal fashion style?
I’m inspired by so much! But more than anything I’m just trying to wear what excites me and what I can afford or find on eBay.
On November 3rd, you’re due to release your debut EP ‘Birthpool’. What stage in your life are you soundtracking on this project? What are the main themes you wanted to touch upon?
I am soundtracking spring 2021, breaking through huge creative and personal barriers. The themes are of self empowerment and overcoming. Choosing to enter into the main character stage of my life writing music I truly love.
You expressed ‘Teach Me’ was written ‘as a fun relief from the heavier moments,’ could you elaborate?
I wrote Teach Me as a fun relief from the heavier moments on the EP, but its message is just as important, continuing the narrative of empowerment, this time through a feminist lens. Teach Me pokes fun at mansplaining and wonders how it would feel to have the entitlement of a privileged, cis gendered white man. Anyone in the music industry that doesn’t identify as this will know how it feels to fight loud, patronising, overpowering voices that assume they know better. I don’t want us to make ourselves smaller, or feel we have to talk or play music like them to be respected, we are enough as we are.
As a last note, could you list some of your favourite artists at the moment?
Yeah with pleasure, I’ve want to shout out my favourite Bristol and London artists and some I am lucky enough to call friends: Jusjim, China Bowls, t l k, Juliet Temko, Maya Law, Freya Roy, Quinn Oulton, Kathleen Frances, Grove, Waldo’s Gift, Lawi Anywar and Jelly Cleaver.