Welcome to The Drop, Refinery29's home for music video premieres. We want to shine the spotlight on women artists whose music inspires, excites, and (literally) moves us. This is where we'll champion their voices.
Like so many people around the world, rising singer-songwriter Holly Humberstone is riding out the wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the safety of her family home. But Humberstone is making the best of her time in self-isolation, using every hour of the day to work on her craft. New to the music scene — she released her debut single "Deep End" earlier this year — her rising star is matched by a tireless work ethic. She just wrapped up a gig opening for Scottish superstar Lewis Capaldi, and now, Humberstone is putting the finishing touches on her unnamed EP. Now is her time.
Much of the upcoming project was written and produced in a makeshift studio in Humberstone's childhood home, a rustic property in Grantham. The house, tucked into the quiet countryside landscape, is the setting for both "Deep End" and her latest hit, "Falling Asleep At the Wheel." The new single describes a relationship gone stale, recalling the slow but steady downturn of what was once a love story for the ages,.
The British singer just released an acoustic version of the tune, accompanied by a moody music video premiering today exclusively on Refinery29. Hunched over a dusty old piano, Humberstone breathes out the song's lyrics, her voice raw with emotion.
"How am I supposed to be your ray of light?" she sings with urgency, fingers flying across the black and white keys. "I get dark sometimes — does it pass you by?"
Refinery29: You released the original version of "Falling Asleep At the Wheel" last month. What made you want to share an acoustic iteration of the single and shoot new visuals for it?
Holly Humberton: "Last summer, Rob Milton [who I write music with] and I built a studio in my parents' house, which is really old and in the middle of nowhere. We were really inspired by being in such a weird setting, and I'd never really gone very far with my productions before we recorded 'Falling Asleep At the Wheel.' It just took us to a very different place sonically...you can kind of hear the sounds of the house within the track, which is cool."
"I love the song so much that I thought it was important to have a stripped-back version as well. I stripped it back on my own — because I don't have a band when I play live — and I just loved that I could hear all the creaking noises of the piano and of the house itself. It was very rustic."
"When I first started to properly make music and got more serious about it, I didn't have a team or any people helping me, so I used to record really rubbish versions of the songs I'd written. I was just on my laptop recording with a shitty microphone. All of my early songs sounded really rustily recorded. That's why I love the acoustic version of 'Falling Asleep At the Wheel' — it reminds me of the demos that I used to make on my own."
You're very good at playing the piano — how long have you been playing?
"My parents were very keen on me and my sisters playing music, so we've had lessons ever since we were quite small. I was never, like, amazing at reading music, but I can do enough to support myself."
How did you get your start writing and singing your own songs?
"It's hard to say because I don't really remember the first song that I wrote, but I'm sure it was awful. My family really encouraged me, so I just kept on going. I uploaded a bunch of rough demos to a site called BBC Introducing, and I got some attention from local radio stations. I saw that people were resonating with my music, and that pushed me forward."
What's your secret for staying grounded and true to yourself as an artist?
"I try and stay consistent. I don't want to confuse people. And, I'm quite happy with the way I present myself now because I do feel like it's authentic. I want my music to be as authentic as possible, too."
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.