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Love Letter To A Record: Essie Holt On Washington’s ‘I Believe You Liar’

Written by Essie Holt on October 23, 2018

Many of us can link a certain album to pivotal moments in our lives. Whether it’s the first record you bought with your own money, the chord you first learnt to play on guitar, the song that soundtracked your first kiss, the album that got you those awkward and painful pubescent years or the one that set off light bulbs in your brain and inspired you to take a big leap of faith into the unknown – music is often the catalyst for change in our lives and can even help shape who we become.

In this series, Music Feeds asks artists to reflect on their relationship with music and share with us stories about the effect music has had on their lives.

Essie Holt – Washington’s I Believe You Liar

Dear I Believe You Liar,

It’s 2010, I’m an ambivalent teenager and you stuck with me while everything around me moved. When I first discovered you, I had one of those ‘I didn’t know anyone else felt like this’ moments – how could you so beautifully articulate the inner workings of my brain and do it so succinctly?

My obsession with you started when I heard the first verse to ‘Rich Kids’ – “I met you under neon, all of the lights were flickering, off and on. And everybody’s coming down, or throwing up, or sleeping round.” You were defiant and quirky made my school days feel a little less crazy. You got me. Baby teeth, vampire bite.

I had been starting to dabble in songwriting and was teaching myself piano and guitar. You inspired me and taught me a hell of a lot about music. Particularly when I came across ‘Underground’ – Meg’s will in song form. ‘When I’m gone don’t bury me. I will not lie under this town’. This song is so human and I love that it plays with such a taboo topic and is flawlessly graceful in doing so. You gave me the confidence to write from a vulnerable and honest place. And it’s something I take very seriously in my writing today.

There’s something about the songwriting on this album that digs into my psyche and somehow conjures up every feeling I’m capable of possessing. I love ‘The Hardest Part’, ‘1997’. ‘Sunday Best’ – they’re slightly passive aggressive, and I was super into that as an angsty teen, and still am now as a (somewhat) grown being. Then there’s ‘Lover / Soldier’ which is just, well, stunning.

I spent a lot of 2011 living in the UK and you were with me throughout a lot of my trip. From the crazy 11 hour overnight bus trips from London to Edinburgh, to going for runs around my new hometown of Brighton and exploring my temporary home. You were the perfect guide.

Speaking of Edinburgh, I got to witness Meg play to a packed room at a cute little venue called Electric Circus, which I think actually no longer exists. I made friends that night, coincidentally with two other Aussie girls, who still remain my friends today. I was in awe of the performance, and it really did make me work harder at my own art, to be the best I possibly could be.

A little while later back in Melbourne, I got to see another incredible show of hers and I don’t think I’ve ever felt so connected to a group of people in my life. We were at the Corner Hotel and I can vividly remember feeling so connected to those around me, because everyone in that room was just like me. And then just this year I got to see you live with the SSO, and it was the most magical night.

I might not have quite realised back then, but this album takes some crazy cool production zigs and zags. Some of those sounds are like ‘what!?’ and I just love how experimental and fun it all is, but still grounded by Meg’s crazy genius mastermind musical brain.

Growing up, there have been many albums that have come into my life only for a specific time, but I always come back to you. Whether I feel like dancing, or getting really moody sad girl, you are there for me. And I thank you for that.

I may never decode some of the lyrics on this album, and I like that. I love some of the crazy deep metaphorical language that only the writer could decipher. I’ve made sense of these in my own way, and they mean so much to me.

Essie x

Melbourne singer-songwriter Essie Holt’s new single ‘Distant Places’ is out now.

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