The serene nature of South Surrey has always been a source of musical inspiration for local songstress Lydia Hol.
The 24-year-old has spent countless evenings between White Rock Beach and Crescent Beach, sitting along the shore and penning odes to the ocean.
"Tons of the songs I write have ocean imagery in them," Hol said. "I've spent a lot of time at Crescent Beach and I still go down there quite a bit if I'm in need of a new idea or if I'm tired out from the city."
Influenced by the waves, she recently released her first album, a six-song EP titled Boats recorded over several sleepless nights at a cabin on Galiano Island. She and her band, the Barefoot Boys, brought along brought a bevy of unplugged instruments, with Damian Ritchie on fiddle, Wesley MacInnes on upright bass, Brandon Holm on drums and Davin Miller on banjo and mandolin and acoustic guitar.
"It's totally acoustic, there are no electronic instruments on it, and the idea of that is to really connect the music to the listener," she said. "A lot of bands these days really rely heavily on synthesizers and electric guitar, which is awesome, but I really wanted to step back in the ages a little bit and have more of a traditional sound."
The album was produced by Georges Couling and Ben Brown; the latter performed with Hol at their sold-out mid-September release party at Ocean Park Hall.
"It turned out as good as I thought it could," she said of the record and the concert, "so I'm super excited to keep trucking along with the same kind of ideas and musicians."
Hol, a graduate of UBC's English literature degree program, said her love of songwriting stems from her love of books, noting that she is fond of escaping into a good novel.
"My interest is more in the storytelling aspect of music," she said. "I've always been really connected to the lyrics of song and I've just been a huge reader since I was a little kid."
Her folk-rock inspirations include Neil Young and Carole King, but she also admires younger musicians. She listed Halifax's Jenn Grant and England's Laura Marling as females in the music industry who have influenced her style.
"They have folky aspects to their music and they really rely heavily on their vocals," said Hol. "My main instrument is my voice, for sure."
Hol hopes to get her name out there, starting locally and building her way outward. Though she doesn't yet have any Surrey shows scheduled, Hol hopes to go on a small tour between the Lower Mainland and the Okanagan - roughing it in a way similar to the album's recording process.
"I'm really hoping to do some house concerts," said Hol. "There's a bit of a movement all-around of doing these house concerts. There are circuits you can do in the Interior and you can basically go from town to town and do house concerts."
And even though Boats has just been released, Hol's creative juices haven't stopped flowing - she has more songs lined up for her next record, sure to be an LP.
"I have probably 10 more songs that are ready to be recorded, so this is meant to be a sampling," she said. "In the next year, I'm just going to be playing as many shows as possible."
For more of her music and tour dates, visit lydiahol.com.
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