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The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Holly Humberstone discusses mental health, imposter syndrome, ‘Paint My Bedroom Black’

The Hustler attended a virtual press conference with Holly Humberstone to talk about her debut album “Paint My Bedroom Black.”
Holly Humberstone posing on the floor for the single “Kissing in Swimming Pools.” (Photo courtesy of Constantine Spence)

It is rare to speak with music artists who are as candid in real life as they are in their lyrics. But UK artist Holly Humberstone is the perfect example of honesty on and off the stage. Humberstone joined a virtual press conference with º1824, Universal Music Group’s creative services team, on Oct. 26 to discuss the release of her debut album “Paint My Bedroom Black.” The album came out on Oct. 13 and has lived up to Humberstone’s status as the winner of 2021 Brit Rising Star, receiving praise from critics in the industry.

As a long-time fan of Humberstone, having discovered her shortly after the release of her first EP “Falling Asleep At the Wheel,” I couldn’t wait to attend the conference. She joined the Zoom from her room in London as she shared about her experience creating her most recent project.

The interview began with Humberstone discussing the first and titular track “Paint My Bedroom Black.” Originally, the first track was “Cocoon” with the album name being “I’m Just Going Through Something,” which is a line from the song’s chorus. However, she changed it to “Paint My Bedroom Black” because its lyrics about shutting the world out from hotel rooms were more representative of what she was feeling after a long stretch of touring. Humberstone said that it was relieving to write and get off her chest.

Despite sharing the shocking revelation that writing does not come easily to her, Humberstone explained that it is how she manages her mental health. Some people choose to express their feelings through journaling, but writing and creating music seemed to be her outlet.

“I don’t really journal. I find it hard to keep up with journaling every day…I save it all for the studio and for writing,” Humberstone said.

The singer continued talking about how her career affects her mental health as she answered questions about her experiences touring with artists like Olivia Rodrigo and Girl in Red in 2022. It was a hectic schedule and artists are often away from their homes for extended periods of time on tour. Humberstone said that her album touches on these feelings of loneliness as she slept in hotel rooms in strange cities around the world. Overall, she described touring as an “emotional rollercoaster,” full of highs and lows.

Given the exciting, yet exhausting experience of being on tour as a female artist in today’s landscape, Humberstone stated that it took her some time to get to the point where she no longer views other women as competition. This is a unique perspective to have as the entertainment industry tends to pit young, female artists against one another. Humberstone is a textbook “girl’s girl” sharing how growing up with three sisters has led her to be in touch with her feelings for writing new songs. Her background and life experience led Humberstone to share that her femininity is part of what makes her powerful.

Her growth and power as an artist are evident in the album, as sonically, “Paint My Bedroom Black” is different from anything Humberstone has ever released. Her creative process consisted of going into the studio and trying to figure out what sound she has not done before. “Room Service” is an acoustic love song to a friend, and despite being the last song on the album, it was the first song that she wrote. In it, Humberstone expresses feelings of missing a friend during the COVID-19 lockdown, something many students can relate to. She shared that writing it made her realize how much she loved writing about her friends. Many of the other songs that ended up being on the final tracklist are about her friends as the first song influenced the rest. 

“To me, this album is honestly really confusing. It’s a great depiction of my head because one song is acoustic, really mellow and stripped back but the next is one like some weird dance thing,” Humberstone said. “I feel like it goes from one extreme to the next.” 

Although the album may be cited as not cohesive sound-wise, the lyrics and recurring themes tie it all together. The singles from the album — “Into Your Room,” “Antichrist,” “Room Service,” “Superbloodmoon” (ft. d4vd) and “Kissing in Swimming Pools” — reflect this and give listeners a taste of what musical elements Humberstone experiments with on the album.

Right before the end of our time together, I had the chance to speak with Humberstone and ask the question from a list that I had sent for approval. As someone interested in going into the music industry one day, I love asking artists questions about their personal or career goals and aspirations. Humberstone was yet again a breath of fresh air as she candidly revealed that she has imposter syndrome, a feeling that resonates with many Vanderbilt students.  

“I feel like I don’t have the ability to see too far into the future,” Humberstone said. “I’m just so focused on how cool it is that I get to do this now.” 

For now, her goal is to create music and tour forever. Although she has many ambitions and wants to grow as an artist, right now she is still wrapping her head around her current success. Humberstone expressed her hope to find happiness and satisfaction in her career without the toll it sometimes takes on her mental health. 

There is no doubt in my mind that Humberstone will gain the confidence and contentment she searches for while still creating music she is proud of. She announced a 2024 North American tour on Nov. 6 which kicks off in Nashville on May 5. Holly Humberstone is definitely one to watch and I am very excited to see what she creates next.

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About the Contributor
Bimi Ogungbade
Bimi Ogungbade, Former Staff Writer and Photographer
Bimi Ogungbade (‘23) studied human and organizational development in Peabody College and psychology in the College of Arts and Science. When not listening to music or attending concerts, you can find her reading a book or giving tours. You can reach her at [email protected].
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