Interview: Common Holly (Canada) on touring North America with Gang of Youths and playing SXSW

Montreal’s indie-rock rising star Brigitte Nagga, better known as Common Holly, set tongues wagging at SXSW as she showed off her latest album Playing House – just as Aussie band Gang of Youths were doing the same. Since the Austin event, they’ve been touring America together, and to learn a little more about the artist – and to get all the dirt on the tour – we caught up with Brigitte, who also gives some grand advice for artists set to play SXSW next year: “try caring less”.

Tell us a little about your SXSW experiences! What was the best show that you played?

Everyone tells you that SXSW is wild but there’s no amount of getting ready for SXSW that can prepare you for your first time there. I think my favourite show was our last one–it was our third show of that day and seventh of the week, in a small bar outside of downtown. We were so tired and so close to calling in sick but we pulled through.

Any lowlights from the event?

It’s definitely a bit draining to play an entire week of shows to loud audiences, and with no soundchecks.

What advice would you give an artist playing it for the first time in 2019?

If you care too much on stage, try caring less. You’ll save yourself some vulnerability and probably perform better that way.


Don’t get lost in FOMO. Decide what you want to see and do, who you want to meet, and keep the list short.

Any artists you discovered yourselves while at SXSW / any live highlights?

I loved Pierre Kwenders from Montreal and Tika from Toronto (#canadianpride).

All these shows continue your Playing House tour, with the brilliant album dropping at the end of last year. Now that it’s been out for about 5 months, how have you found the songs to be translating live, and are there any in particular you’re enjoying playing?

The songs are definitely different live than on the record. I think that’s the necessity and pleasure of making a really sonically textural album, because without backing tracks you’re forced to find new ways to arrange the music for performance. With a band, I tend to bring out the edgier qualities of the record, making everything louder and darker, while honouring the dynamic range of the recordings. I like performing “The Rose”.

How have you found the reception to the album to be overall?

Very good? I’m thinking that when people don’t like it they probably just don’t tell me.

You’ve just wrapped up a tour around North America with Gang of Youths, how have these shows gone?

We had a good time on tour! Those guys are great. We kept saying we were going to hang out after the show but they played 1.5 hour sets and we always had to go to bed right after they were done so I guess we’ll just have to become best friends next time.

Were you familiar with the band before the tour? What have you thought of their performances?

I didn’t know Gang of Youths before touring with them, but they had a super dynamic performance and very adoring fans–that is always nice to see.

For fans of the band here in Australia, any juicy goss from the road you want to share?

I am a vault

Do you have a favourite member of Gangs? It’s Joji isn’t it?


Now that you’ve toured with them in the US, any chance you’ll join them down here in Australia?

It depends–who’s buying the flights?

What is the rest of 2018 holding for you?

I have lots of touring plans in the works! Europe, Canada, and more US dates are either announced or forthcoming. A new record is very much on the horizon too!

Listen to music from Common Holly HERE, or head to her Facebook Page, Twitter Page, Instagram, or Official Website to learn more about the Canadian artist.

Photo by Sean Mundy Photography. Used with Permission.


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.

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