DELTA RAE – An interview with Brittany Hölljes


Interview by Miriam C.

Photo by Shervin Lainez

By now, you should have learned that Femme Metal Webzine doesn’t really care about musical boundaries and the business establishment and in a way, this is our confirmation to this our statement. After Delta Rae‘s “Carry the Fire” (link review here), for Femme Metal Webzine has been quite impossible to reach out to this incredible Americana rock band from Durham, NC. During this interesting reading, you’ll learn why how music business and most importantly, why the band has decided to terminate their contract with such a prestigious label as Big Machine and consequently, going independent through massive crowdfunding on Kickstarter. Enjoy!

Hi Brittany, how are you and how life is treating you? I’m so glad to have you here after so much time.

Hi Miriam, I’m so well and I’m so happy to speak with you and life couldn’t be better at this moment, we’re in a really happy phase as a band.

As I previously told you before we started this interview, the last time that Femme Metal Webzine spoke with you and Delta Rae was back in 2012 for the promotion of “Carry the Fire”, so, how things have changed since then?

Yeah, I mean things have changed immensely. We signed with Warner Music and we released “Carry the Fire” in 2012 as a first début album, subsequently, we released another album and we proceeded to leave the label for try to have a fresh start and see if we would able to find a team. What we have put out on our put single album disagree, everyone, we have signed on to Warner Bros. and with our team, we have left. Consequently, we followed one of our favorite team members from Warner Bros. to Big Machine Records in Nashville and also, for connecting a little bit with the musical community in the city. Unfortunately, also that record deal didn’t go as we hoped because created some creative differences so, once again we left a label and this time was Big Machine earlier this year and in July, we announced that we were going independent and we launched the Kickstarter campaign which it was successful founded over the 200% of our goal. So, we are in a phase of absolute bliss with one but two full-length albums which it represents the start of our career as an indie band. 

Well, let’s start with the Kickstarter crowdfunding, as you have already mentioned, you’re on the verge to release not one but two full-lengths. Did you expect such positive feedback from the media and the fans? I underline the word media because I saw articles from Rolling Stone and other important media outlets.

No, really, what it happened was pretty serendipitous. We’re still signed to Big Machine Records and we also chose Tayor Swift‘s record label and the day before we have planned to launch our Kickstarter campaign and make the announcement that we were going independent, the whole Scooter Braun, Scott Borchetta and Taylor Swift‘ drama unfolded. The country singer wrote on her Tumblr account her feelings about the sale of Big Machine and that was something we no idea was coming. We kinda didn’t think twice about it, once we announced that we were leaving Big Machine, I think Taylor Swift‘s standout post as an opportunity to support a band who was also trying to leave a pretty toxic industry, they thought by being in an active protest on our part, which in a way, it was. I think it’s a creative necessity to pull artist to own their work, my opinion about the record industry that is, sadly, backward in that regard. So, the post we published on Facebook, it went viral and our fans along with some eager Taylor Swift‘s fans, we able to help us raise our goal of 30.000 $ in just 30 minutes and by the end of the day, we skyrocketed to the double. Over two weeks after the campaign we raised 10 times what we had aimed for. Thus, I’ve been watching the post and surprisingly, Rolling Stones picked up as an add-on for the Taylor Swift‘s story but it helped to gain visibility for the band and we really appreciate that they reached out and take time to tell a story.

Actually, you have just confirmed to me that this exceeded your expectations and the campaign will finish in 17 days however you have over exceeded your goals. What can you additionally do with this consistent amount of money?

Yeah!! Well, it’s so exciting. I wish it was easy as it looks. It seems so powerful and it is but, you know, we have already parceled out what will go back to creating the actual material we promised, the payments to Kickstarter and our teammates. What it’s left, it’s a precious chunk of capital that we’ll invest in a live album in addition to “The Light” and “The Dark”. Also, we’ll produce 3 music videos for each album, so, that makes 6 forthcoming music videos that will be created in a quite cinematic way like in the past. Last but not least, we have also announced 2 ways for going to try to spread some love: one will help to promote independent female, non-binary artists as well as trying to make our touring model more eco-friendly. So, those are really the immediate goals we have set and consequently, we have reached. Instead, our stretch goals are to create more music by the end of the campaign if we reach the number of backers. All the dollar amounts that we’ve hoping to, we’ve even got a Southern gothic musical that we had teased to our fans and it’s an expansion of “The Bottom of the River” music video (link video here) mixed with “After It All”.

Perhaps, it’s really premature to speak in detail about “The Light” and “The Dark” albums but do you have already in mind how these two albums will sound?

Yes, in fact for “The Light” album we’re going in the studio early September to finish it but much of it has been already recorded. So, we have all the tracks planned, we have previously chosen the singles and up to now, the tracklisting has been sketched out, we roughly know for which songs we’ll shot the videos for. In the end, we have this plan and it will work for the long run: “The Light” is very close to completion and it’ll come out in March 2020 and for “The Dark”, we also have all the songs written, we got a lot of demos fully sketched out for recording and I think, we have partially all, we have left only two songs to write, we have almost all for “The Dark”. It’s really exciting but that’s a lot of songs that have been waiting in the wind for years and we’re really grateful because we’ll get back to hearing everybody’s voices represented. We’re really to using on having “The Light” capture the more cheerful, optimistic, summery and Southern sound that we create. On the other hand, we want “The Dark” to be the most witchy, mystical side of Delta Rae.

Photo by Shervin Lainez

If you indulge me in this question, do you think that lyrically speaking “The Light” and “The Dark” might be in some ways intertwined? 

Hmmm, it’s a great question! You know, they are interconnected in a way that those two elements are entertained. Actually, you cannot have one without the other, for the example, the day is to the night as it were two almonds to one another. So, I think we have politically charged songs on both albums as well as we have love songs on that albums. Last but not least, also songs about death on both albums and about life too. It’s just the way we talk about them comes from two different color palettes and maybe a kind of different spiritual approaches to those dichotomies of being those classics opposites. I think we’re just trying to capture all the human highs and lows of how they’re kinda are married to one another. In conclusion, the great question is to put more thoughts of where the songs kinda meet but I know they do.

Right now, it’s just a curiosity… Furthermore, for the lovers of analogic supports, do you aim to release “The Light”, “The Dark” and the live album in CDs and LPs? 

Yes, so the only implication with vinyl is that we are always up against the quantity that you have to order, we had been talking about a lot in the band. We hope and it’s pretty much guaranteed that we’ll announce a plan including both albums on vinyl and we’ll find a way to make affordable and feasible. Definitely both albums will on CD, our ultimate goal will be to serve them with a package separately and in the future sell them as a double album in some way, so the people could maybe have both editions. 

Well, we have already discussed a bit about “The Light” and “The Dark” but considering that your second full-length “After It All” was released back in 2015. Musically speaking, do you take into consideration that these two albums are a continuation of where you previously left or does it represents a new beginning for Delta Rae?

Well, I honestly think we’re picking up from where we have left off and actually, I think even more than that. It’s going deeper to the source of our power thus for me it’s both. It’s both picking up where we left off because we have might be got a bit scared or hesitant after being eclectic as we were. We felt pressured to present ourselves as an easy band to understand and we experimented already that. It’s just not possible, we are who we are and this feels to go back to be genre-defining, exciting band that we dreamed to create and it’s truly both because being independent is such a new beginning in a sense that the freedom is so powerful but a lot of these songs were written in 2013, 2014, 2015 and just now, they’ll see the light of day. Of course, some of them were written last year or earlier this year but some of them we hold on to for really really long time so we’re picking up where we have left off and we’re going more deeply into who we are and that’s is new. 

Before concluding our interview, I wanted to ask you which are the next band’s plan in terms of touring the US and Europe? 

Yes, we’re so eager to get back to Europe and I think our biggest plan right now is getting our songs to you all, right now. There are people excited and we might get able to get airplay into a radio playlist and that, of course, it wouldn’t only help in terms of touring in European continent however we can make it part of a bigger strategy, in order to visit frequently Europe not only a one-time every couple of years but something that can be part more of regular touring route and try to build and seize the momentum. So, that’s the thing we are really excited about and very hopeful to have some shows booked and to release them overseas. Now, that we are independent, we are planning all these things by ourselves, so it’s a big learning curve and we’re attempting to understand better how all it works and how we can do it the best way possible. We definitely going on tour a lot next year and it might mean that “The Light” and “The Dark” could come to you closer together as opposed to the States where they will be released a year apart. Maybe, you’ll have them as a package deal, that’s all I can think for now however we definitely will be traveling internationally with these two albums and we cannot wait for it.

Now, indulge me once again with a straightforward question: no more label involvements for Delta Rae after this nice and positive experience as an indie band?

You know, it’s certainly not in the foreseeable future. It has been such an eye-opening experience, I think that sometimes for things like distribution or for small elements of the work, you can partner up. However, the idea to sign the right of your music to another entity, I don’t think it will ever feel right again and so, for my perspective, no, no future label deals unless something drastic changes in the music industry or in addition, we have to find a partner who we deeply trust in. I just never had that and I love being an independent band. We’ll see how it goes, never say never on these sorts of things but my guess is no. My guess is this is our new state of being.

Well, it was my last question and Brittany, this is now your space to greet your fans and our readers. I really thank you again for taking the time to reply to my questions and for being so kind and available with me. So, now it’s your time.

Well, thank you. I just wanted to say hello and how excited we are to grow our fans internationally and to have powerful women represented, have our story told and our music shared. And that our music doesn’t fit into a box and it still has voices that are extremely valuable. I think that we are adding a lot of beautiful colors and dynamic to the music scene, so, I’m very thankful that we going to meet you all in this way and I hope we come to perform live overseas very soon with “The Light” and “The Dark”.

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