Meet Holly Miranda
The singer-songwriter on her crowd-funding project, coming out and fan proposals.
Photos by Lindsey Byrnes
For fans of Ani DiFranco and Missy Higgins there is a new indie singer ready to rock your world: Holly Miranda. Her sound is an ambient, ethereal rock flavor that's soulful and soft, yet powerful. We caught up with Miranda as she was hard at work in the studio to get the skinny on her second forthcoming album, the woes of the music industry and “Rapid Pelicans,” the song she wrote for the It Gets Better campaign.
You created the Record a Record crowd sourcing campaign to gain creative freedom over making the new album. What kind of control did you have on your last record, The Magician's Private Library, and what would you have done differently?
It was a really expensive record to make. With The Jealous Girlfriends it was like using our band mates’ studio in the middle of the night when no one was there. So this was the first record where my publishing company, Chrysalis, put out a chunk of money to pay for the making of the album. The difference is that once it was done any label that wanted to put it out would have to purchase the record from my publishing company and not all the labels that I was talking with could even afford that.
Also, it gives me less choice of where I can go and what I can do. I also don't even own the masters to it because I didn't pay for it. Chrysalis owned the master and now Excel owns the masters. I'll never own that record. I realized that a couple years out — that I don't want to do it like that again. I don't want to relinquish control of my masters. I don't want to be in a situation where I'm not with the label anymore and I don't own the record.
How did you get these cool ideas for the pledge rewards, like the handmade chocolates and the high fives in the sun?
The high five in the sun was kind of joke. If somebody wants to do it, I'll do it. [laughs] Chocolates are something that I already make and that my friends love. So I thought, Why not? I just kind of thought of what can I offer? What can I do? I can sketch, I can record covers, I can make chocolates…the possibilities are endless when you start thinking about your creativity and what you can do. And I just wanted to be different. I looked at other people's pledges and they're all kind of the same thing, you know. And I also get kind of creeped out with having lunch or dinner with somebody. Cause that makes me feel - like putting a price on having lunch with me made me feel really weird [laughs]. So I decided to steer away from those types of things and do more unique things that I'll never offer again.
How did you hear about the I Live Here organization that you're donating money to through your Record a Record Campaign?
I met Mia as she was just getting ready to go over to Malawi on her last trip. I was trying to tell her that she really needed to videotape because they hadn't videotaped anything yet. And she got permission to videotape and came back with all of these videos. I was helping her sort through those and I can do really rudimentary video editing, so I was trying to help her with that. And then she asked if I wanted to play the charity that I did right before I came out here with Uh Huh Her. And then when setting up the pledge you have an option to do the donations to a charity, so you know, I thought it was another way that I could help them out. They opened the school, but they're trying to raise money now to actually build a structure because they're still in the courtyard of the prison during school, which is really uncomfortable and kind of difficult. But I just think what a great thing. It's one of those things that would completely be overlooked if she hadn't have happened to go there and said I want to come back here and start a school and then actually did it. It's taken her years and years to do this and I just think, good on you. What can I do to help?
What is the craziest thing a fan has ever said or done?
The marriage proposals are kind of a little insane. You don't really know me. [laughs] I don't know, I guess probably the artwork. I mean I don't think that's crazy, but those are always my favorite. Someone gave me a drawing of me but I had a skeleton face. And then their dog had chewed on the corner of the paper so they just drew a little arrow that said, 'puppy bite marks'. [laughs] I'm like all right, whatever. [laughs] I mean that's definitely not the crazy crazy shit, but we don’t need to give any attention to that.
You said that you wrote the song "Rapid Pelicans" for the It Gets Better campaign, and that you imagined singing yourself that song when you were 14 years old. Was that a time when you were processing coming out?
Yeah, I mean I started writing that song during the Prop 8 stuff that was going on and we played it a little bit then, but then really started playing it live with my band on the Tegan and Sara tour last year. And you know, sometimes I'd just be looking and thinking, maybe they’re gay. Maybe they’re straight. A lot of them kind of look gay [laughs], but I’d look at them and just think about where I was when I was at that age. And how confused I felt and how I felt like I couldn’t come out. Or I couldn’t be who I was inside because of the religion that I came up in or the way people thought around me in Michigan, or whatever. So when I sing that song I feel like I’m talking to those kids just saying it’s all right. It’s okay who you are, whatever it is. It doesn’t mean you’re anything evil or wrong. I think that’s the hardest thing to come to terms with is the feeling of feeling guilty almost because of who you are. As proud as you might be outwardly, there might still be some more questions happening inside.
Was there ever a coming out process in your music career?
No. I never really even thought about it. There was definitely a conversation when my last album was coming out. You know, when my publicist said do I want to be out. I was like, what do you mean? I am out [laughs] … But I was out in my life, so why wouldn't I be out in my music? I don't really think they have much to do with each other. I think that I said this before. But at the same time, to keep it a secret, to go out of my way to say no is wrong.
Watch Miranda's Record a Record video and ooze in contemplation awesomeness about how cool it would be to make a pledge here.