An interview with LAFA winner Holly Dodson
Holly, congratulations on winning Best Song for Journey's End! Before we talk about Journey's End, can you tell us a bit about yourself, what sparked your interest in music and what were some of your first steps in the music industry?
Thanks so much! I grew up in a musical household, my parents ran an indie record label and 24-track recording studio out of their basement so likely through osmosis, I caught the music bug. When I was 16, I had some secret songs I’d written (I was very shy so they were top *secret*) and I also took an interest in the technical side of recording. And my parents really encouraged me to learn how to produce music so I articulate my ideas and be self-sufficient when inspiration struck. When I was a kid I’d hang around during recording sessions so the studio really became home, in more ways than one!
A few years later, my career started when Parallels did. We started a MySpace page and played some shows around Toronto, and now over 10-years later it’s still going and the adventure continues :)
Who are some of your favorite musical artists, and how did their work influence your own artistic voice?
Kate Bush was the first artist I discovered who inspired confidence with my voice and finding my own style. She’s a true original and I really admire that more than anything. I have to shout out to my Dad and his band Stampeders as well, he always encouraged me to do my own thing, follow the inspiration and he lead by example. And as well, David Bowie, Bat For Lashes, Depeche Mode, Stevie Nicks and Heart constantly orbit around my inspiration.
What makes you passionate about songwriting?
Ah so many things - I’m always curious about what world I’m going to go into through my songwriting. I love a good daydream, and exploring which feels so similar to the space I’m in when songwriting. So it’s hard to shake that feeling!
Where do you find your inspiration, and what is your writing process like? Do you usually start with lyrics, melody, harmony, experimenting with different sounds?
It’s really all over the place - I’m always listening and observing, writing little lyrics that might eventually turn into something. When I’m in the studio it could be a synth patch or a chord progression that lays the ground work for something new. And either words will come during that process or I’ll refer to my millions of notes and find a home for an idea. It’s like putting pieces of a puzzle together.
Can you tell us a bit more about your experience performing worldwide with Parallels and Radio Wolf? What were some of the most memorable concerts and what do you like the best about being on stage?
Getting to travel is definitely a highlight in itself, especially after this past year. But touring has always meant so much to me, getting to meet people who listen to your music and see new places. The first time we played overseas was Moscow Russia, so I’ll always remember that trip…it was surreal that people actually knew our music there. In 2018, we were lucky to get to play Outland Toronto which really brought the synth scene together - people flew in from all over the place and it felt so buzzy, especially being in our hometown. So that was really special as well!
Having released so many songs and albums, your career is full of exciting highlights. Is there an album, song, or award you're particularly proud of?
Well besides the LAFA ;) - each step of the way has marked chapters in my life so I’m just grateful to be able to keep writing them. Last year we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of our first album “Visionaries” so that meant a lot to me. Also working on the Proximity soundtrack was so cool because it was my first time writing to a film.
Let's talk about Journey's End, which you wrote as part of your soundtrack for Proximity, directed by Emmy-winning VFX artist, Eric Demeusy. Proximity is such a meaningful film to be part of, and your songs contribute so much to it, both on a sonic level, and a spiritual one. When and how did this collaboration come about?
Ah thanks so much! I was sold as soon as Eric mentioned ‘aliens’ <3 Oliver Blair (p.k.a. Radio Wolf) connected with Eric a while back and so Eric reached out to him about writing a song for the film. Oliver was looking for a collaborator so he invited me to co-write with him. The first song Oliver and I wrote was “Lost Angel”, and we thought that would be it but Eric kept sending us scenes to write new songs to…so we ended up with a whole 7-song soundtrack. It was an incredible songwriting experience, Oliver and I were really buzzy and inspired by it and it all happened so organically.
Which part of the film resonated with you the most?
It’s so hard to choose! For me it really hit home the search for connection on all levels - spiritually, emotionally, romantically - it’s such a root human need…and apparently a need of extra-terrestrials…so that’s comforting in some way :)
How did you and your co-writer, Oliver Blair (p.k.a Radio Wolf) approach writing and producing the 7 original songs for the soundtrack?
Eric sent us different scenes that he heard music to so we’d start with that. He also sent us a playlist of songs for mood references so we had a lot to bounce off of. Oliver and I would usually start the songs together, develop a chord structure and some production elements…go our seperate ways. I usually wrote the top-line and lyrics, and Oliver would fine tune the productions. So we kind of passed the songs back and forth after creating the initial demos together.
What message were you hoping to convey with Journey's End?
The song appears during the climax of the movie, it’s a pretty big scene so the tempo and overall vibe of the tune needed to balance that out. For the lyrics, I wanted them to be sort of comforting…almost like a lullaby to balance out the emotional peak of the scene. Its also a song about the in-between - where you’re just experiencing moments, stepping through thresholds, being brave and basically…see you on the other side of the dream.
You're currently back in the studio working on Parallels' 4th studio album, scheduled for a release in 2021! What can you share about the new album and when will it be released?
Yeah!! It’s a 10-song album called SUPERSYMMETRY - the masters are back, selecting the artwork etc so its in the very final stages :) It will be out sometime in August!
Do you have any advice for young musicians who'd like to follow in your footsteps? Anything you wish you knew when you started out...?
Give yourself the space to create, the most fulfilling experiences will come from creating and making the art. Try to limit distractions - people are always going to try to tell you what to do and how to sound…but your true vision, your unique sound is all you need and all that matters. And don’t be afraid to take the long road!
What is your dream project?
Whatever comes next :)
If you had a musical superpower, what would it be?
To be able to play guitar like Nancy Wilson from Heart.
Where can our readers follow more of your work?
Is there anything you'd like to add?
A very big thank you to the LAFA team and everyone who has checked out Parallels! It means the world ♥️