Growth is hard. We all know what it feels like to be stuck in one place. It's comfortable. Easy. Nonetheless, we as humans aren't meant to be complacent. Our evolution depends on our ability to morph into our best form at a moments notice. Why is it that we don't give that berth to those who inspire us? If it's only their high water marks that enable us to see their perspective, shouldn't we expect our idols to know best how to rise to the next level?
In a tight knit community like Austin, a group as good as Holiday Mountain is guaranteed to develop a fervent following. Soon after their first few shows, you'd find them playing to a packed house full of fans craving front-woman Laura Patino's raw energy and wild antics. She's quite a spectacle on stage, and you wouldn't be remiss to see her climbing on top of speaker stacks to get a better vantage point of the crowd. Recently, she gave herself a concussion after slipping down from one of her lofty perches. This over the top stage persona is accompanied by a catalogue of electronica bangers that hit squarely on the nose. "Coffee & Weed", a veritable millennial anthem, has lyrics whose depths hide none of the side effects of our black and green addictions. "Bump that Bass" is a furious feminine war cry in which Laura's screaming vocals embody the wrath of a woman scorned.
The type of local fandom that Holiday Mountain commanded would leave any artists feeling complacent. Speaking from an audience member's perspective, it was tough to grow tired of the performances they put on. But much to our dismay, during the fall of last year, word got around that they were moving to Brooklyn. It was a tough pill to swallow, and it was hard not to feel forsaken for the charms of a cooler city.
How could they possibly leave the city that housed their most rabid and devoted fans?
As it turns out, the relocation was less of a market swap and more of a journey of soul searching. If an artist spends so much time perfecting the form we already know, how can they see the next one they fit best? Recently, Holiday Mountain stopped back into Austin for a show, and we took the opportunity to drill deep into the mind of their creative transformation.
Magnetic Mag: So how'd you handle your first winter in Brooklyn?
Holiday Mountain: Yeah... There are moments where you look in the mirror, and you're like, "I'm strong, I'm doing this. You keep it together, Laura." So yeah, a lot of positive affirmation and meditation YouTube playlists.
MM: So overall, what prompted the move?
Holiday Mountain: To be honest, after being in Austin that long, I was feeling pretty creatively stagnant inside myself. Austin is a really amazing place. It's super nurturing, I love the community vibe, and I'm really grateful for all of the experiences it gave me. But within myself I didn't feel like I wanted to make new material. I just didn't feel like I had anything more I needed to say. I love being in New York where there's anonymity. I feel like I can be whoever I want to become. People don't already have an outline of me and every change I make isn’t analyzed. The openness to change is really important not only as an artist but also as a person.
MM: How does living in the city feel?
Holiday Mountain: Well, we live in Flatbush, specifically Prospect Park South, so it's very Caribbean. Some aspects of their culture are really hard and masculine, even the women have it too. They have a certain sternness and strength. But many of them are the warmest people you can imagine. Especially now that the weather's warmed up. I walk down to get some oxtail stew and all I hear is beautiful reggae sounds. There's so much love in that neighborhood! There are so many immigrant families and you see so many beautiful moments of love between the parents and their kids. I just want to kiss these families on the mouth... That would be pretty fucked up, I’m not about that. I'm more about consent. Hashtag, #Trendsetter
MM: Have your inspirations changed?
Holiday Mountain: That's a good question. The whole thing has definitely caused me to internalize a lot more, especially having moved in the winter. It's a very introspective time and it helped me get to the next place with my writing. I think that's another thing we realized when we spent so long working on the art of performing; it’s certainly wonderful and fun but at a certain point if you feel like you’re not where you want to be, it drains you. The kind of touring we were doing was exhausting and my energy was zapped, so I really wanted to focus on the songwriting rather than the playing. In the spirit of long-term game, I want let the song writing make the performing a lot better.
MM: You’ve talked about outgrowing yourself, what did that look like?
Holiday Mountain: The past couple years have pushed me to grow up in a lot of ways. I had a close death in my family and that was the first time I've experienced what they call “sad”. She lived here in Austin and she was a pretty heavy hoarder, so cleaning out her house was just... a lot. It really made me think about what's actually important in life and what, you want to waste time being jealous of someone else’s material success? It taught me a different way of thinking. Also, you get to a certain age, and you're like "I don't really want to be cool or go to parties or any of that anymore." You just see through things that you thought had more substance.
MM: In that growth, what did you have to let go of?
Holiday Mountain: Well first and foremost I had to let go of all my physical life that I had built up here in Austin. There is an incredible community here and I got used to having a lot of acknowledgment and a lot of comfort. I painted my whole house white as I left and that was also as Trump was getting elected, and I was like, "This is so much right now." Painting it all white was really cathartic, and a good symbol that sometimes you just need to start over even though you know it's going to kick your ass. I don't know what Trump has to do with that. It was just like a lot of energy in the air when that shit happened.
MM: Did your confidence transfer over as you grew?
Holiday Mountain: It became more of an inner confidence in myself rather than my projected self as a performance piece. Coming back here to the fans and recognition definitely feels like a treat, like a Hershey's kiss or something. I'm not used to this new internally focused perspective, but it's been really good for me. As I’ve grown I also realized that I'm not really somebody who desires any public fame. Here in Austin, people all know you and will brag about you, but that definitely wasn’t the case all around the country. In other cities, people are just like, "who are you? I don't care that you drove 10 hours for this show."
MM: What's one thing you've been telling yourself not to think about lately?
Holiday Mountain: Oh man, just not to be jealous of people. Everybody has goals in life and although it’s not a race, when you see other people reach those goals, it feels like “Oh that was sooner than I reached my goal.” I’ve been trying to turn that voice off because I don't think that manifests anything positive. I think being grateful for your experience and your unique life is where I want to be. I'm trying to make that voice be louder than the jealous one. But, then again it’s not quite as easy as saying, "don't tell yourself NOT to be jealous." It’s definitely a vicious cycle to concentrate on that.
MM: As your source of affirmations shift internally, have you found that you need to take more time focusing on what you need?
Holiday Mountain: Well, living in New York begets a lot more solitude and a lot more self reliance. It's really important. There's no shortage of solitude for New Yorkers. Making friends on the street is not as easy on the street as "I like your tattoo. What's that?" If you do that people will be like “Go away. I don’t have any cash.” I’m someone who grew up near the mountains, I thought everybody said hello to each other everywhere. I learned quickly, "Don't talk to everyone. These people want to fucking hurt you." In New York, pretty quickly you get over so much bullshit so quickly and blur out a lot simply out of necessity.
MM: How has the band collectively self reflected?
Holiday Mountain: We've definitely reflected on the past, especially around what didn't feel good. The journey as a band is a lot, especially in 2017. We learned that we wanted to make songs that would be authentic. I think before, I wanted to help people in the way that they had fun and partied together. That kind of attitude is helpful, sure, but when the party is over you need something that's super real. Humans all have our own vulnerabilities and so we started to write songs that addressed universal feelings that can transfer into positive connections. Even with some of my close friends, it’s hard to tell them when things have been weighing me down. Now we hope that it will help people feel okay with hurtful experiences because we can tell them it cuts deep for us too.