Hollands is rock ‘n roll infused with folk leanings, orchestral pop, plugged in violins, shouting, sighing; learning. Arcade Fire cursed with Dylan’s New Morning playing Scrabble with Joy Division.
Fronted by multi-instrumentalist John-Paul Norpoth (the son of a classical flautist) and violinist Jannina Norpoth (the daughter of Detroit based avant-garde jazz guitarist Spencer Barefield), carry on the torch of family tradition combining fuzzy guitars with orchestral arrangements, electric violin and traditional folk nods.
The duo has lent their skills to other artist’s musical aspirations as well. Recording credit’s include collaborations with Daryl Hall, Akron/Family, Keri Hilson, Keyshia Cole, Selah Sue, Black Dahlia Murder and Your 33 Black Angels. Jannina has performed on stage with countless acts such as My Brightest Diamond, DM Stith, Jay-Z, Beyonce, Pharrell, Foxy Brown, Alexi Murdoch, Anita Baker, Sheila E, Boyz II Men, Micheal McDonald and Amy Grant. She has appeared on VH-1’s “Save the Music” and Saturday Night Live.
Together, Jannina and John-Paul currently work recording and arranging strings for legendary producer Jerry ‘Wonda’ Duplessis at Platinum Sound in New York City and have worked with artists including John Legend, Shaggy, and Amber Riley.
Ghettoblaster recently caught up with the duo to discuss their album, Restless Youth, which they released in November.
When did you begin writing the material for Restless Youth?
John-Paul Norpoth: All songs were written post 2005. Most of these songs evolved at home by tinkering with them in Ableton or ProTools. A majority of the material was written right after we released our first EPs in 2008 and 2009, so they have been “marinating” for a long time. There is one song “Washout Those Hands” that dates back to my old band – Butane Variations. This song had a different arrangement, more acoustic – and a bit less with regards to whole-tone scales and bad piano playing.
What was the most difficult song to take from the initial writing stage through recording and mixing? Why was it so troublesome?
JP – Strangely enough, “Great White Shark” was the hardest song to take through all of these stages. I am in the midst of arranging it for our New Year’s Show – we haven’t played it live in a long time. It’s a very dynamic and over-the-top piece of rock ‘n’ roll. I like to think of it as Electric Light Orchestra mixed with Zoloft withdrawal and ’70s Playboy Magazines. I think Jeff Lynne would like that song, frankly.
The issue with the song is the many different characters involved. When you record a song in different sections, the first song on the record, “Always” evolved from this as well, you have trouble maintaining the audience’s attention for 7 minutes. I think of those songs as the perfect sync recordings for a commercial break during a re-run of the X-Files – cranked loud, harmful, impetuous.
In case our readers don’t know, you two are a married couple. How do you keep band squabbles from spilling into family life?
JP – Therapy. “Freaky-Deeky” moments arise.
You both have guested with so many interesting musicians. Have you learned a lot from working with all of these folks? Anyone, in particular, stand out to you as being helpful to your career?
JP – Every musician who makes a living making their art has a great deal to offer in terms of advice. It’s safe to say that the curriculum for rock stardom has changed since 1999. Even Justin Timberlake has diversified his portfolio of talents and exploits. N-Sync was awesome but I think Timberlake is happier as an actor, comedian, entrepreneur, and last-but-not-least, performer.
I like the musicians whom look to make their recording and performing lives distinct and exclusive.
Recordings can be cinematic and inviting but you have to perform these days – everybody we work with seems to return to the stage (at some point) because you can’t replicate the experience yet in the digital realm.
As long as music makes people move, you will have the group mentality of gathering and listening to musicians.
Everyone we collaborate with stresses the idea of an “open” and “diverse” – musicians have to think of more ways to make their music important and required in the computer age. The days of the Beatles or other artists making records exclusively seems over and gone. We love it!
Even the Beatles had a record company and a clothing line eventually.
I’m told you have a big record release show coming up. Can you share with us the details?
Jannina Norpoth: We’re taking over JACK (Jackny.org – an awesome new lofty space for contemporary music and art) in Brooklyn and throwing a big music and art party New Year’s Eve. We will be ringing in 2015 by performing Restless Youth live with a pretty bad ass string section and video projections by performance artist Amy Khoshbin (tinyscissors.com). We met Amy in a sauna at Banff last winter and realized we had a shared love for dance offs, glitter and dada. She’s pretty amazing in her own right having collaborated with Laurie Anderson and Karen Finley. These beautiful friends will be joining us on the bill – Aaron Roche
(http://newamrecords.com/aaron-roche), rockers Hey Guy (www.HeyGuy.com) and Amy’s new intergalactic hip-hop project CAN-D. We’re Psyched!!
(Visit Hollands here: http://hollandsss.com http://twitter.com/hollandsss http://facebook.com/hollandsss)