Just four singles into her new solo venture as Holysseus Fly, you wouldn’t be surprised by the texture and sheen of Holly Wellington’s sound to learn that she has already been well immersed in the Bristolian music scene for a number of years. Having already graced some of the largest stages in the world – Glastonbury comes to mind – alongside her bandmates in Ishmael Ensemble, Wellington is nothing short of a consummate professional. Diagnosed with cancer in 2019, and thankfully surviving its evils, she was encouraged to find her own individual artistic voice and legacy. As Holysseus Fly, she charts this turbulent, yet triumphant, journey.
Bringing the well of her powerful vocals to soul-bearing topics, Holysseus Fly’s upcoming debut EP Birthpool is sure to meander with emotion, vulnerability, and a blues-inflection much akin to FKA Twigs or NAO. However, it is a sound that will be underpinned by themes of defiance and empowerment, as well as showcasing Wellington’s signature gloss with every element in place and each note drawn out to radiant perfection. The latest cut from the collection, “Teach Me”, offers a more up-beat and sharp-tongued side of the prism.
“I wrote “Teach Me” as a fun relief from the heavier moments on the EP, but its message is just as important, continuing the narrative of empowerment, this time through a feminist lens,” Wellington explains. “Teach Me pokes fun at mansplaining and wonders how it would feel to have the entitlement of a privileged, cis-gendered white man. Anyone in the music industry that doesn’t identify as this will know how it feels to fight loud, patronising, overpowering voices that assume they know better. I don’t want us to make ourselves smaller, or feel we have to talk or play music like them to be respected, we are enough as we are.
With a wink and glaring side-eye, Wellington adopts a playfully bombast personality to level with the unbearable patriarchy she takes aim at. Collaborating with Jack Liley on the track’s visual, she notes “the video features the first dance routine I choreographed with Bethany Kyle for my live shows. China Bowls created a 20-foot cape to visually elevate the finale of the song. A representation of rising above it all, becoming my own star, without need of external validation from anyone.”
Already a proven talent alongside her bandmates, Wellington is correct: Holysseus Fly is a marker for her rising star as a solo artist. Hatching an undeniable ability to entice and enthral, her artistic blend of vulnerability and empowerment is refreshing, both untouchably glossy, yet completely approachable.