February 28, 2022 8 min read
For this month’s Cottonwood Correspondent, we have Timothy Andrews from Holden Days, a Southern California-based dreamfolk project. Like always, we sent over a few questions that will get inside Timothy’s process and relationship with music.
- Tell me a bit about your background and Holden Days in general. How’d you get started with this project? Is there a guiding idea or principle behind it?
I was born and raised in Southern California by two parents who were at complete opposite ends of the musical spectrum. My mom loved the Beatles and Talking Heads while my dad liked Iron Maiden and... the Gipsy Kings. I grew to love everything under both umbrellas, although I may have had a phase where I really hated metal. I think I cared so much about music that playing it was just a natural result of wanting to add to the noise. I started demoing little songs in my late-night bedroom in highschool with whispered vocals while my mom slept in the next room, which I eventually started filing under the Holden Days moniker. I became constantly fascinated by teaching myself practical theory. I desired to start making the kinds of things that I wanted to hear in music, and that led me to adopt a mindset of exploration and discovery. I wanted to start incorporating sounds I had never heard in music, or at least not in the styles I was playing in. Whether or not the result is as groundbreaking as I'd like to imagine, I think Holden Days really is about the tandem of myself discovering the nuance and vastness of human emotion through discovering the nuance and vastness of music itself. They're both concepts that feel absolutely endless to me, and so I feel like I could never run out of ways to create songs.
- What got you started with music more generally? Do you have any musical roots or memories that you'd like to share?
My dad bought me a little Radioshack keyboard when I was 5, and I started teaching myself how to play songs from Zelda games that I was playing (and still am playing), and I think that was a really special thing that showed me that I can do what I want with music, simply because I have the human ability. That's something that I would always try to teach my students when I was teaching music a few years ago, because it literally gave me a musician's mind - the concept that it is possible to do what I wanted if I took the time to learn the articulation.
Pursuing it more seriously probably started in 6th grade when I was asked to join my best friend's and his brother's garage metal band, 37 Tentacles as their bassist. Then for myself moving forward personally, I was always really affected by things that made me cry for some reason. Hearing George Harrison's "All Things Must Pass" got me interested in emotion through melody from an extremely young age. I would sit in the back of the car on roadtrips and while the sun was rising, I was hearing songs like "Behind That Locked Door" and the later addition "I Live For You.” I think songs like that made me set out to find out exactly how to make melodies and guitar arrangements that made me feel similarly.
- What are your top three artists right now? Any favorite albums, if you had to choose?
Right now I would have to say Stevie Wonder, Björk, and Imogen Heap. They all have some of the fullest grasps of perfect harmony that I can think of. So many emotions can be packed into a few minutes with the three of them, and their complex arrangements give my ears something new to pay attention to each listen through any of their work. It's something that I really feel at home in because I always have tried to create little nuggets of interest in my own music, rather than just do things simply. Sometimes it's to a fault on my end, but whatever.
Stevie Wonder's In Square Circle is such an underrated album from when he went basically completely synthesized. People know things like "Part Time Lover" and "Overjoyed" but my favourite song on that album is the IMMENSELY underrated "Never In Your Sun." I think I've gotten each and every one of my friends to become obsessed with that song since forcing them to listen to it.
Imogen Heap's Sparks is also probably a more underrated album with lots of variety that might be daunting to people with more straightforward sensibilities. Her song "The Listening Chair" is a completely acapella journey through her life, with each minute representing 7 years of her life. It makes me cry every time, and it's so incredible how she just... does that. It's absolutely insane.
- Are there any musical tools or gear that influence your sound or musical process?
If there are two companies that I could not live without in music, it's Fender and Chase Bliss Audio. There's a reason Fender guitars and amps are so popular. They're just the best to me, and I couldn't imagine any of my music without them.
Joel Korte at Chase Bliss is a dear friend of mine and the pedals he creates with all the wonderful people at CBA and other collaborators are just the absolute best in the game. Anyone who's spent time with even the simplest of their offerings would probably attest to this.
Other than that, I use Ableton 11 as my DAW, and something about its sampling capabilities and workflow is so inspiring to me, even though what I do could be classified as more traditional sounding music at times. Ableton kinda helps me bridge things into something more extraordinary.
- What are the most challenging parts of creating music? Most rewarding?
I would have to say that saying the right things in my music, lyrically speaking, has always been a challenge. With how perfect of a thing that music is, it's hard for me sometimes to mirror that with words. I've been overtly flowery at times simply for the fact that I don't know how to say it simply but while having it parallel what can be said with an instrument. It's something that I always look to Paul Simon, or Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes for. There's a lot of learning in that department, but I'm always excited to learn new articulation.
I'd say one of the most rewarding things in music is when I've finished a song, before I've even had it mastered, and I just have the file on my phone and I keep replaying it in the car and keep feeling excited about what I was able to do. Sometimes I get really detached from the fact that it was actually me who was able to justdo something. It's hard enough to get out of bed most mornings, so how much more amazing is it to actually just FINISH a song? It's really cool. And then I release it and then forget that I did it until like several months later.
- What are some things that inspire you, either musically or aesthetically?
I'm always inspired by human nature, and the idea that we all kind of feel similarly about a lot of things, and the fact that I might be able to deliver those conveyances in my own way that someone else might really resonate with. And I don't even mean lyrically, per se. I always love when I'm hearing a friend play and they express some kind of musical motif, and I'm like "woah! I do that too sometimes!" Or like when I hear a song by some random artist and it's like "Wow, this random person really gets me like I thought nobody could."
- What is your musical philosophy?
There could be a hundred different ways to go at it, but I'd guess that my philosophy is to always inspire and always look to be inspired. And I don't mean in a strict sense of just creativity. Sometimes someone wants to inspire a sense of sadness, or triviality, or belongingness, or optimism, and I'm always trying to find the nuances in that in everything so that I can pronounce it well in what I do. Or just to have it under my belt of understanding. I even foolishly try to make peace with things that I deliberately don't like sometimes. Some of my friends get mad at me for always trying to reconcile myself to something that I don't need to give any credence to, but I feel like it helps me to become a better and more sensible artist. If I can be at peace with something, then I'd be less upset about it. But it's usually near impossible to get there because of how critical I can be, and how awful I think certain things really are.
- If you had unlimited creative freedom, budget, and connections, is there a dream project that you would like to undertake? What would it look or sound like, ideally?
For some reason, the idea of 'unlimited' anything doesn't always appeal to me because I really get a lot out of my limitations. I'm thinking I would definitely thrive with unlimited resources to make music though. I'd like to have a Wrecking Crew style of musicians at my side for accompaniment on something like my own "Mother Goose," or "Rites of Spring." Not in the sense that I want to do classical. But just a saga of music-- vocal and instrumental. It would be recorded to a film that stars all of my friends and family or something. I guess when I think about it, I really do like the idea of 'unlimited' after all.
- What is something non-music related that you find fascinating or significant?
For some reason I've been really kind of obsessed with late 90s-mid 2000s media. I think I'm just trying to connect with the culture that I remember in a small sense as an adult. I really like knowing what was going on in the world when I was a child, living in a world of my own. I inherited a lot of 90s culture from my older sister, but I'm still always fascinated by seeing movies or watching shows or listening to music from an adult standpoint. Maybe it's just to get some sort of accurate read from all senses of the world I was brought up in.
- Is there anything else about your work - or anything at all - that you'd like to share with readers?
I'm just enthused that anyone would listen to the music that I make and I hope that I can add something new or something sweet to the world of music. I'm always at work on things and I could never really see myself stopping, and I'm just excited and optimistic for how things will continue.
Holden Days is the musical project of Southern California native Timothy Jude Andrews. With reaches from folk to electronic and ambient music, Andrews dedicates his work to explicating his own emotions in experiences through song by use of heavy instrumental layering, at times complex harmonic arrangements, and intentional lyricism in hopes of bringing something new to listeners with each consecutive album.
Peregrine, the fifth album by Holden Days is out now on all streaming platforms.
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