Festival Highlight :: Common Holly :: Real Love Summer Fest

by Olivia Michalczuk

Real Love Summer Fest attendees are in for a treat with Common Holly performing her new unreleased album When I say to you Black Lightning at the fest this year. At the time of her performance, Real Love goers will be one of the first audiences to hear these new tunes. 

“We will play this [set] in Toronto and then fly over to Winnipeg, so this will be our fourth time performing this album” said Brigitte Naggar, who performs as Common Holly.

“You’ll get to see us still screwing up. You’ll see growth.”

Common Holly is a solo project, though she will be traveling with a band for her “Back from the dead” tour. The name of the project, Common Holly, is representative of her sound.

“I kind of like the imagery of the common holly plant. I kind of liked that it was these pretty little berries that are surrounded by these dark sharp leaves, it felt kind of significant.”

For audiences that are familiar with Common Holly’s debut album Playing House, Naggar says to expect something a little different with her Real Love set.

“The album that I have out now that’s called Playing House is more of an experimental, maybe folkish singer-songwriter, kind of dark [album]” she said.

“I will be mostly performing songs from the new album and the way I would describe that is maybe a little more tending towards rock vibes. Kind of like if Cat Power crashed in to Radiohead if you want it on a topline — yeah, that’s the vibe.”

Naggar once said in an Audiotree Live performance that “Maybe I write sad songs but that doesn’t mean I am a sad person, it means when I am happy I don’t have to write sad songs, I don’t have to write songs at all.” When asked about that, she said that was slowly changing, especially with her new album as the songs are veering away from the autobiographical writing style.

“One of the main things about my new album is that it has a lot less to do with me and a lot more to do with stories that are out there that I observe or interact with, or whatever it might be” Naggar said.

“I have been trying to decide if I really want to get in to the narratives that inspired the songs and I think I am much more comfortable just saying that it’s meant to feel familiar, it’s meant to just be relatable to people in a variety of situations without knowing exactly what was going on at the time that I wrote [the songs].”

Though her sophomore album seems much different than her debut, Naggar said she sees it as “more of a grown-up version” of Common Holly than a diversion from who she was when she wrote Playing House.

“When I finished the album I thought it would be a much bigger departure from the first album and I am kind of realizing more and more that I don’t really think it is that much of one” she said.

“It incorporates more range, and has more of a beat but it keeps the sincerity and sobriety and intimacy. If that’s what people gravitated to originally they should, in theory, be still on board.”

Real Love audiences can expect a show that is curated for the stage and she said “I find that the new stuff is definitely more interesting for the stage and it was written with performance in mind whereas the last album was my foray in to song writing and it was just whatever came out of me at the time.”

Naggar is most excited about seeing Molly Burch at Real Love this year and the intimacy of such a small fest. “Festivals can be really overwhelming, especially as an artist. You tend to have so little time to relax and you spend all your time figuring out where everything is and you forget to eat and then you leave town. That is my experience with festivals so [Real Love] seems really nice.”

Common Holly performs at Real Love Summer Fest Saturday July 27 at 5:00

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