San Holo's Perspective of New Single "Lead Me Back"

San Holo's Perspective of New Single "Lead Me Back"

We interviewed San Holo and learned about his creative process and how he connects with listeners.


Most well-known for his remix of Dr. Dre's The Next Episode, Dutch genre-bending musician San Holo effortlessly combines his guitar and singing skills with electronic sounds. 2018 was quite the year for San Holo - he released his successful album1 and performed it to enthusiastic crowds all over North America in his biggest headlining tour to date. However, 2019 may be off to an even better start as he prepares to tour the rest of the world and take part in several popular music festivals. Today, he released "Lead Me Back," his first single off his label's latest compilation series, Gouldian Finch 3.

The Odyssey: So how exactly would you describe the process of creating "Lead Me Back?"

San Holo: "Lead Me Back" is definitely a different kind of song. When I showed it to my friends for the first time, they called it "Folk-EDM." Like kind of a folky, indie, EDM sound. Which I thought was a pretty cool name for the track. Normally when I write music, I start on a guitar and then translate everything to electronic [instruments], like you know, keyboards and stuff like that. But for "Lead Me Back," I felt that the acoustic guitar had to be part of the song. So, I kept it in, and I think the song turned into a really cool indie-EDM song.

O: I think it's different than anything else I've ever heard because of you being able to combine folk and EDM sounds. It's really hard to have a good balance between those sounds, and I think you definitely did that with this song.

SH: Oh, that's awesome! That's the goal. My goal is always to create something that will make people think, "Wow, I haven't really heard this combination before, I haven't really heard this sound before."

O: You just did a pretty big North American tour, right?

SH: Yes! I did two months in North America – November and December. I'm going to come back in April for the second run of the album1 tour, which is my first [full-length] album that I released last September. This tour has been all about playing the album. At live shows, there's a lot of guitar lots of singing, and lots of cool instruments.

O: Have you had any special memories with meeting your fans and listeners at shows?

SH: Yeah, especially for this tour for album1. The album is pretty emotional with lots of melancholic songs. I would describe the sound as "happy/sad." I've met people after my shows who were crying. I mean, I've had people cry from my music before, but especially after the album1 drop, a lot of people have been crying after the show, which is great because it means they're deeply touched by [the music], which is one of the most beautiful compliments.

O: Do you think there's a certain song off album1 that brings people to tears the most?

SH: I actually wouldn't be able to name a specific song that puts people in tears. I think it's more the experience of listening to those [emotional] songs and getting in this headspace where people start to reflect on things. A lot of people go to shows to just forget about their problems, but also with this show, I see people diving deeper into their emotions and actually facing them.

O: It's so important that music can do all of that. I think you definitely are able to give your listeners like a safe space.

SH: Yeah! One of the most beautiful things still to me is when someone links a memory to a certain song [of mine]. There are bands that I listened to five years ago that I have [linked] memories of holidays or trips with friends. To have my songs, or my album or a specific part of the song, create this memory for someone – linking a place or time or feeling to that song – is a beautiful thing.

O: Do you have like a specific song for you that like of the bands you would listen to five years ago? Like what's a specific instance of a song that's linked to a memory? If you don't mind me asking.

SH: I used to listen to a lot of Bloc Party. That band has been a huge influence for me. I remember having my first heartbreak, having my first breakup, and learning that life goes on through the ups and downs. That's really what [Bloc Party's music] does to me personally. There are other albums where I'll remember holiday trips with my parents, or falling in love with the girl at the swimming pool… It's just the little specific moments that your favorite song at the time will make you think of.

O: Do you think any of those memories and songs that you linked had any influence on "Lead Me Back?"

SH: I think everything I've done up to now in my life has an influence on another thing I make. So, definitely, all the experiences and troubles are part of what I put into my music. I really like for people to have their own experience and their own meaning of my songs. I'm not going to tell someone what it means for them or what it should mean. But to me, it's a song about how sometimes even though two people love each other or seem to be perfect with each other, it just doesn't work out over time. You're trying to get back to that first spark, or the feeling you got when you first met each other. That's why it's "Lead me back to you," that "you," that you knew from back then.

O: Is there anything else that you would want your fans to know about regarding "Lead Me Back?"

SH: As an artist, I would like to have the freedom to create whatever I want. So, I think it's important to say that I always have this urge to innovate my sound and push the boundaries of what people think is possible within a certain genre. I really appreciate people that listen to my music for being really open to whatever I release. Like whether it's a house song, or a trap song, or in this case, a folk-EDM song. I think it's really important to me that [listeners] have that open mind because that's really what it's all about. Having an open mind. Especially when it comes to art and music.

O: I think the world is really going to love "Lead Me Back."

SH: I hope so. To me, it's a very scary song to release because it feels very naked and very honest. Those songs are the scariest ones to release because, you know, if people hate on it then it feels very personal, but, you know, I have to get over that.

O: Yeah. And that's just part of putting yourself out there and releasing music that is going to be meaningful. I think the fact that it's a scary song to release just proves how much this song means to you.

SH: Yeah, absolutely.

Want to catch San Holo on tour? Find the date closest to you here.

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10 Photos You Have On Your Camera Roll Of Your S.O. When You've Been Dating For More Than A Year

A wide range from "Aw" to "WTF?"


My boyfriend and I just hit the year and a half mark of dating, even though it seems like we've been together forever. Over the months, we've taken many pictures together... from football games, to his track meets, to holidays. Although we may have a lot of pictures together, I definitely have a lot of candids of him in my camera roll. If you've been dating your partner for as long as I have or longer, then you'll probably notice you have these same pictures in your photos as well.

1. The awkward first photos together

We laugh at these now, especially this one. Why am I so pale compared to him? It was July! And also, we noticed not to long ago that I was sweating under my arms and his underarms were sweating on me... what a great first time meeting!

2. The ones for VSCO

Every girl who has a significant other posts them onto their VSCO. VSCO is like Instagram, but more has more aesthetically pleasing pictures and there are no "likes." The pictures that include my boyfriend on my VSCO ranges from him holding a bunny to him holding my hand while we went ice skating.

3. Them sleeping

I have so many pictures of my boyfriend sleeping (I promise it's not as weird as it sounds), I just think he's so cute when he's fast asleep while cuddling with me.

4. The embarrassing ones they want no one to see

He's going to kill me when he sees this... but we all have those embarrassing Snapchat pictures that we start to send each other because we've gotten more comfortable with one another.

5. The ones for Facebook

The good looking pictures so you can keep yours and his family updated on how you two are doing. I took my boyfriend to a baby bird meet and greet since he loves birds and has one for a pet. I posted this cute picture of him and his new friends on Facebook so my family can see our adventures together.

6. Old pictures

One of the best parts of dating someone is finally seeing their old pictures. Although, sometimes they may make you cringe... like the one I posted above of my boyfriend after prom in his sophomore year of high school.

7. Their accomplishments

My boyfriend pole vaults for his college and he's really good at it. He just went to division III nationals in March because he qualified! I'm always at his meets so I make sure to get him on video in case he or anyone wants to see. I always try to snag a picture with him too because I'm always so proud.

8. The straight up ugly ones

He sure knows how to make me laugh. And I know he's going to be mad at me for this one too but I think it's a talent that he can do that with his stomach! Sorry, Adam, I promise I still think you look good when you send me these snaps for the most part.

9. But you have the hot ones too

He may be funny and sweet, but he is pretty good looking too. I know us girls keep some attractive pictures of our S.O.'s so we can remind ourselves of what a great looking partner we have.

10. FaceTime screenshots

If you and your lover go to different colleges like my boyfriend and I do, then FaceTiming happens a lot. Sometimes I get some great screenshots, like the one above, to make fun of him later.

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Hear Ilana Armida Open Up About Her New Single, "High No More"


In her latest single, "High No More," LA-based singer, songwriter, and dancer Ilana Armida tells the dark story of a relationship with an end looming. Instead of accepting the fate of the relationship, Ilana speaks up for herself through catchy melodies and isn't afraid to suffer through confrontation in order to achieve what's best for her. As a graduate of music business school and an owner of her own entertainment label, Ilana is no stranger to standing her ground.

Sophie Harris: How would you personally describe "High No More" and what was the creative process like to make it?

Ilana Armida: We wrote the song last year at BMG Studios. It was really late [at night]. I set up this session with a couple of buddies I've written with before: J Bach, Allen Mattox, Mike Schiavo, and Alex Kinsey. Everyone in the session was kind of a zombie because we didn't get started until 10pm. We thought it was going to be a failed session because everyone was half asleep, but then we had the idea to write it on guitar. I do hip hop and pop stuff – I never just start with guitar. We had Mike start strumming some chords, Alan and I came up with the "High No More" [lyrical] concept, and it came together quicker than I've ever written a song. Within an hour, we had the whole first verse and chorus done.

I was very sleepy when I was recording the track and I don't think we really realized what we did until we listened back the next day, and we were like, "Guys. Did you listen to the song we did last night? Because it's pretty dope." Then, I played it for my roommates and they were, like, "Yo. This is really dope. You need to put this out." We had no idea that it was even something worth putting out until we all listened back. It was just one of those weird times that we all, in our sleepy state, came together and made something cool.

The concept itself is very straightforward. I wanted to write something that was relatable for a lot of people. And I've been there before – in a relationship where things used to be all spicy and sexy, and then he's not trying anymore. You're bored in the relationship and you're rooting for it still! You're like, "Come on, dude. Put in some effort. This used to be great, and now, it's just falling apart." The song never really gets to the point of, like, "I'm out of here." But it's that point right before you make that decision. Where you remember these fine memories of it being so cool and so great and exciting – but it's gone now and you're trying to get it back.

SH: Would you say there's a sense of standing up for yourself in those lyrics instead of just kind of letting the relationship stay how it's been? Like, speaking up about what you want and being that person who is able to speak your mind?

IA: I very much am that person in all of my friendships and relationships. I'm always very straightforward and honest. It is a little sassy because, you know, the first line is "You tell me about your day, but I really don't give a f**k." I remember writing that and being like, "Is this too much?" But [the writers were] like, "Is that what you would say?" And I'm like "Yeah." So, they were like, "Well let's keep it in there!" There's almost a little bit of sarcasm, like "I'm good. That's fine. Whatever you want to do." It's a little passive aggressive, but yeah. Definitely. It's definitely addressing the issue head on.

SH: I love that. I feel like there are so many artists and musicians who usually just sing about what the man wants instead of speaking for themselves. And your music is completely different from that norm.

IA: Well, thank you. That's the goal! I want to talk about things in a slightly different way than they've been talked about before but still in a way that most people can relate to.

SH: Are you going to release a video for "High No More" at some point?

IA: I would love to. Music videos are my favorite part of the whole process. Like, the I have plans – tentative plans – to shoot a visual in the coming month. I definitely want to make it happen.

SH: That's another thing that really speaks to me about your music. I know you've been a dancer and a singer for as long as you can remember, and the way that you've been able to combine those elements is really cool. So how do you think that adding the components of dance and art really add to your lyrical and musical style?

IA: I grew up watching music videos –probably earlier than I should've. I remember back in the 90's when MTV was all music videos, there was this [channel] called "The Box," and it just played music videos 24/7. It was mostly hip-hop and R&B; stuff, and I was like, "I want to be a video vixen when I grow up!" I was like, 6 years old. So, I'm obsessed with music videos. I did a music video for my last single, or a lyric video. It was 100% my concept. I creative directed and I got to show people a different side of my brain. It lets me put together the full package, because I have this vision in my head when I'm writing a song of what I want the video to look like. When I get to do videos, I get to put the whole package out for people see what these feelings look like to me.

SH: I love that you have a visual image in your head from the beginning.

IA: Well, I mean – I don't know if it's strategy as much as it's just my brain going a million miles a minute. And like, "Oh, this would be dope!" and "We could do this!" I'm doing everything through my own entertainment company, so I'm sure you can imagine that we don't have the big budget to do the music videos that I would love to do. But when I do get to do these things, I'm excited to get my ideas out there.

SH: So, you started your own entertainment label? Can you tell me a little bit about the process behind that?

IA: I've been trying to [start one] since I was 15 or 16 years old. In high school, I was singing, I had friends who were singing, and I was in a hip-hop dance crew of all boys. I thought if I could get all these talented and creative people together, we could create this group, support each other, and do shows. I wanted to start booking events and figuring it all out, but trying to get a bunch of 16-year-olds to commit to anything didn't work. I remember organizing meetings and printing out agendas for everyone and trying to be, like, really professional. And it never happened.

Then in college, I tried to put out my own EP that I wrote with a friend. I mean, it was garbage music, but it was my first run at trying to do a full project. That's when I actually created an LLC and tried to legitimize it when I understood how to do that, because I went to school for music business. Now that I actually have music that's worth putting out into the world, I've partnered up with a couple people who have worked in the industry for a long time. They're helping me to organize everything. For example, we're distributing through AWAL for "High No More," but the last [single] we distributed ourselves, so we're slowly getting the connections and resources that we need.

SH: Have you faced any challenges starting your own LLC so early and handling everything yourself, especially in the male-dominated music industry?

IA: Luckily, I have the most supportive parents of all time. My dad really helps me on the business side of things. He started his own business, so he set a really good example and figured out the best ways to help me. Plus, they both love what I'm doing, they love music, and they've always been super supportive. So, that's been helpful, especially to have my dad – a strong, male figure – be so supportive.

I've met people saying that they wanted to manage me, seeming very legit and having the credentials and the money. But knowing that's the industry is exactly what I went to school for – so I wouldn't get screwed over or sign a contract that I didn't understand. I've been presented several times with contracts and guys trying to take advantage [of me]. I've been lucky enough to know the game before I got into it, but there are so many other women that don't know, and that totally get screwed out of money or just taken advantage of. It's tough.

And it's also tough because during any writing session I'm in, it's rare that there's another female in the room. I'll meet a girl [in the industry] and be like, "Oh my god, want to be my friend?" Because I'm constantly surrounded by dudes. I think that comes through in some of my music. As happy and "dance-y" as a lot of my songs are, there's also this little, like, bitter girl in the background. There's a little bit of a jab in the stuff I'm writing, and I think it's pent up sassiness from all the dudes I have to deal with.

SH: Honestly, thank you so much for releasing that kind of music. It's relatable but it's also truly personal to your own stories. It's really hard to find that balance and you've definitely found it.

IA: Thank you! That means so much because that's what I'm trying to do. It's really tough. I get anxious before I release stuff because, like you said, it's personal. I've tried really hard to be as genuine as I can be when I'm writing and singing these songs, so it kind of feels like I'm saying, "Hey world! Here's a piece of me for you to judge." You know? So, I appreciate that. Thank you. I hope ["High No More"] resonates with people the way I want it to.

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