Name: Patrick Holland
Occupation: Producer, singer, songwriter
Current Release: Patrick Holland's album You’re The Boss is out 7/29 via Sinderlyn.
If you enjoyed this interview with Patrick Holland fka Project Pablo and would like to know more, visit him on his official website. You can also find him on Instagram, Facebook, twitter, and Soundcloud.
Where does the impulse to create something come from for you? What role do often-quoted sources of inspiration like dreams, other forms of art, personal relationships, politics etc play?
My strongest source of inspiration to create comes from my watching movies or reading books. If something takes me outside of my usual headspace, that’s all I need to get going.
If I’m alone, I’ll hit pause and jot something down, though I won’t subject others to this process!
For you to get started, do there need to be concrete ideas – or what some have called a 'visualisation' of the finished work? What does the balance between planning and chance look like for you?
The ideas don’t need to be fully realised or concrete – the finish line can be blurry. Staying open to chance or completely changing direction is a constant.
Too many times I’ve tried to force the initial idea or spark from beginning to end, and it almost always results in disappointment.
Is there a preparation phase for your process? Do you require your tools to be laid out in a particular way, for example, do you need to do 'research' or create 'early versions'?
Everything in the studio needs to be hooked up, can’t have any roadblocks or trouble shooting along the way when starting out.
I record many early sketches of songs, as quick as possible, when kicking things off. This helps me not get too caught up in doubt – “it’s okay if this version doesn’t cut it”.
Do you have certain rituals to get you into the right mindset for creating? What role do certain foods or stimulants like coffee, lighting, scents, exercise or reading poetry play?
Reading poetry helps with getting in the lyrical flow state for sure, I’ll do that while laying on my back so I can’t immediately get up and write something down. It’ll force me to stay and think about it first.
I drink loads of coffee throughout the day, and tend to keep the food light while plugging away.
Lighting isn’t a huge factor for me, I wrote the majority of my record in a windowless room lit by a grow light – not the most pleasant of sources.
What do you start with? How difficult is that first line of text, the first note?
The beginning is always different, but never the hard part. Writing verse 2 is the hardest.
When do the lyrics enter the picture? Where do they come from? Do lyrics need to grow together with the music or can they emerge from a place of their own?
When the lyrics emerge with the melody it’s always a good sign, though rarely the case for me. They typically show up separately, and are written in a different context outside of the studio, picked apart from various notes and thoughts I’ve recorded over a long period of time.
What makes lyrics good in your opinion? What are your own ambitions and challenges in this regard?
Writing an honest reflection of emotion or thought is my personal goal.
It doesn’t need to be deep or immediately coherent, but if it’s fake or ingenuine it’s obvious and boring.
Often, while writing, new ideas and alternative roads will open themselves up, pulling and pushing the creator in a different direction. Does this happen to you, too, and how do you deal with it? What do you do with these ideas?
Being open to changing the original concept is a big one. Whether this change shows itself in the early writing or late in the production/mixing, no matter how painful it might be, it’s good to be ready to run with it.
Especially in the digital age, the writing and production process tends towards the infinite. What marks the end of the process? How do you finish a work?
I do my best to not overwork stuff, so if it remains exciting/interesting upon multiple listens in different environments, then it’s finished.
What's your take on the role and importance of production, including mixing and mastering for you personally? How involved do you get in this?
I mix and produce my songs, so it tends to be a large part of the process. I usually write, produce, and mix in tandem, which can be annoying and distracting in a lot of ways. But when all aspects are in sync the process of creating a song can feel very intuitive from start to finish.
In this case, some songs never have a demo version. The song “January” , which concludes my album, is a good example – I wrote and finished this recording in about 2 hours. I then sat on that version for over a year, and it ended up remaining the same on the record.
When working on my own music, the mixing and production are just a part of the writing.
After finishing a piece or album and releasing something into the world, there can be a sense of emptiness. Can you relate to this – and how do you return to the state of creativity after experiencing it?
It can be tough to create new music during the uninspiring limbo state of releasing a record. There’s no easy trick to get back to creating other than doing a little bit everyday. Even if it means recording something embarrassing, that’s better than not doing it at all!
Creativity can reach many different corners of our lives. Do you personally feel as though writing a piece of music is inherently different from something like making a great cup of coffee? What do you express through music that you couldn't or wouldn't in more 'mundane' tasks?
I view the usual routine tasks in a day to be as important as working on music – both can be equally fun or gruelling.
In my experience I tend to lose myself most when making music, and am able to fully focus for days on end, whereas other tasks don’t hold my attention as much.
If I was better at cooking I’d likely be able to feel a heightened sense of expression, but currently music is the vessel that feels most natural.