Holly Throsby is well-known as a quiet achiever. Her fragile folk tunes which whisper haunting and heart-warming messages of lust and longing have not only earned the Sydney-based artist a great deal of industry respect and two ARIA nominations, but a dedicated fan base.
Despite performing to packed audiences, Throsby has the eclipsing ability to have a crowd hang off her every emotionally-engaging word. As a self-proclaimed stress pot, Throsby has made her career out of gently professing about her pain, worry and nerves, especially on her first two albums On Night and Under The Town.
Given the dark, brooding undertones that made her a much-loved ABC Radio Triple J artist, her latest album A Loud Call turned even more heads. The album was released in Australia last year to rave reviews, declared a turning point in Throsby’s career.
The artist herself admitted she felt an awakening, no longer hiding behind her voice but embracing its potential.
Recently arriving in the UK to mark the album’s release here, it’s definitely a different Throsby taking the stage.
With faithful multi-instrumentalist side-kick Bree van Reyk, Throsby has been constantly performing in seven European countries since early September, with many gigs in London and around the UK.
When not supporting the likes of The Tallest Man On Earth or A Handsome Family, Throsby’s headline shows are the first she’s performed in Europe.
She was also the only Australian act to perform at the End Of The Road Festival in Dorset last month. Limited to a 5000 crowd capacity, the festival was a quiet celebration of folk and boasted a line-up that included the Fleet Foxes and Okkervil River.
While chatting to the Australian Times, a casually comfortable Throsby was every part a woman embracing life and new musical challenges.
No way a weary traveller, Throsby relaxed back into her cafe chair during a dimly-lit London autumn afternoon, her eyes smiling as she shared stories of rowing around the Hyde Park lake and consuming tantalising Thai in Islington.
“We’re having a great time in London, walking around all day. I feel like we’ve walked nearly all the streets here,” Throsby says. “I take any excuse to travel, really… performing is an exciting way to see Europe.”
Throsby says performing without her usual bass player Jens Birchall is a massive challenge, but one she’s excited to meet.
“It’s the first time Bree and I have done a duo show, and it’s been fantastic,” she enthuses.
Holly has incorporated guitar delay pedals into her musical outfit especially for these shows, while van Reyk plays drums, glockenspiel, accordion, a sampler pad and keyboard.
“It’s our first almost-band show in the UK,” she says with a faint laugh.
“I’ve been playing more parts on guitar and piano and singing more,” Holly says, adding that she is embracing the further musical challenge involved in the stripped-back performances.
“Bree plays an amazing amount of instruments… It’s almost like we’re performing acrobatic folk.”
“And I like playing in London and the UK in general because you get to play in several different little venues and each different pocket has its own personalities…it suits our music well.”
Throsby says the reception to A Loud Call has been a boisterous one.
“It was kind of like a tree falling in a forest when [A Loud Call] was released in the UK as I was in Australia,” she reflects. But we’ve been having a lot of fun at our shows, so it seems positive.”
Holly Throsby continues to tour Europe and has her final 2009 UK performance at The Green Note in Camden on October 18. Visit our event page for more details.