Interview w/ Holly Miranda


“The Magician’s Private Library,” an eclectic gnashing of marred horns and spectral pianos, is a brilliant offering of jazzy-distortion and airy vocals. The perpetrator of the album, whose music is both quietly sinister and radically unchained, is Holly Miranda. The musical maven was somewhat of a wunderkind, learning piano and guitar at an early age, and eventually scored a short-lived record deal with BMG at the age of seventeen. After a few years of relentlessly planting her fingers against her guitar, Miranda, who ended up on XL Recordings, made an album that was ultimately hers. Crafted with wispy-voiced homages to life, the singer-songwriter culled some ridiculously inspired sounds that glide between the raspy-confidence of Cat Power and the uncoiled nostalgia of Beth Orton. Cinema Spartan caught up with Miranda for a quick chat about her tour and a few of her favorite movies.


Robert Patrick: You’re well versed with many musical instruments. Are there any other instruments that you would like to learn in the future?

Holly Miranda: Yes so many. Banjo, trombone, sitar.


Your album, “The Magician’s Private Library,” is notably spectral and sweeping in its mood and scope. Does it feel particularly gratifying, especially after your earlier brush with the music industry at a younger age, to release something that is entirely your own?



When you sat down with Dave Sitek, what were the first things that you both discussed about crafting the sound of your debut solo album?

We never really discussed how it would sound, we just did it.


The mediums of film and music often seep into each other. Has film ever influenced you, even in the smallest of ways, when writing or performing your music? If so, what are some of your favorite pictures?

Sure. “The Fabulous Stains,” “Act of God,” [and] “Human traffic.” Music plays such a huge role in all of these films, but in very different ways. I’m also very keen on the idea of scoring a film, if the right opportunity ever crossed my path.


If you had to choose one song as an introduction to your music, for a first time listener, which track would you choose and why?

That’s a really tough question. I think it would change depending on who is listening, but “joints” is probably my favorite recording of one of my songs.


When you first heard about Kanye mentioning you in a blog, and knowing how infamously impulsive he is with his words, were you initially a little more curious than usual about the contents of his post?

I’d never seen his blog before, so I didn’t really have any preconceived notions about it. It was very flattering and its definitely cause quite a stir. Ive been a bit baffled by how much people ask me about it.


You just began touring with Tegan and Sara. What has been, at this early point in time, your most memorable experience with the duo?

Actually we finished touring with them a little over a week ago. It was a great time. Probably the most memorable experience was when their guitar tech, Al, dressed up in a gorilla suit and ran onstage at the last show and played drums with Steel Train. As did my band and I, but we were just dressed in our normal clothes.


I hear, from a short blurb on your website, that you were clocked in the face by an errant punch at South by Southwest. What mosh pit were you in at the time, and did you call it a day after the experience?

Yes, I did get punched in the face; but like you said I was in the mosh pit at the “fucked up” show, so it was fair game. No, I didn’t go home after that, I punched the guy back. My two front teeth were sore for over a week though.


You’re working on a graphic novel, I hear. Can you tell us anything regarding the premise?

It’s going to be a mash up of a lot of things, graphic novel is one of them; there will also be short stories, photographs and a cd of music to accompany it.


More recently you played in San Diego. Did you get a chance, through the brief window of time that you were here, to visit the beach or grab some Mexican food?

Yes! Best fish tacos ever!


For tour dates and more on Holly Miranda, visit her Facebook page and Twitter.

Author: Rob Patrick

The program director of the Olympia Film Society, Rob is also a former San Diego Film Critics Society member. He has written for The East County Californian, The Alpine Sun, The East County Herald, The San Diego Entertainer, and the San Diego Reader. When he isn't curating a film festival, he is drinking rosé out of a plastic cup in Seattle or getting tattoos from Jenn Champion.

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