Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff meets frontwoman of Holy Milk to chat about their music, NX Records, and why life after university hasn’t been easy.
I meet Lucinda Duarte, frontwoman of Goldsmiths alumni band Holy Milk, at the end of one of their gigs – a performance part of The Artrocker Festival, New Blood in Hoxton. And the description of new blood is just right for this band who only graduated from Goldsmiths last year. Lucinda describes their music as ‘dream pop’, and she is spot on; the echoing vocals, heavy bass and reverberating guitar seem to fit perfectly into this genre.
I first came across Holy Milk at the launch of Goldsmiths’ record label’s pop up shop, NX Records, run by the Popular Music department which all of the members, Lucinda, Joss, Calum and Will, graduated from. The band were playing an acoustic set at the night and their performance was slick and impressive. ‘It all started in Goldsmiths,’ Lucinda tells me, ‘and it was in second year that we started playing together. Not as a band, but just for assessments and stuff. We realised that we were all on the same page.’
Their involvement with NX Records lead to being offered a gig with a band called Hejira, who are signed to Accidental Records – the indie record label that helped launch NX Records. That was in the summer of 2013, and since then, they’ve been getting ‘really great’ gig offers.
Holy Milk are a band still in development. Lucinda had looked slightly nervous on stage the night of the New Blood festival, and she is completely open about the fact that that they are ‘still very, very new.’
‘That was the biggest show I feel we’ve played,’ she says with a smile, ‘I mean, we’ve played to a lot more people but not on that level. I was looking down at people like ‘“oh god, I’m so high!”’
It seems like many recent graduates they are still getting to grips with life outside college, and although Lucinda says that she learnt a lot from the course, she admits that she didn’t take the academic side of the course too seriously and regrets that. Her and the rest of the band are all currently working in retail, bars and cafes. She says they’re all ‘really broke’, painting an accurate, yet unfortunate, picture of the struggling Goldsmiths graduate, in an economy and culture that does not favour the arts monetarily.
‘When we can fit in a rehearsal, we do,’ says Lucinda. ‘I hate to have that kind of story, but we have it. This is how it all panned out.’ When asked about the future she says ‘you can never be certain with these things’, and although her lack of optimism is sad, it is also realistic. ‘There are so many bands about now, and there’s so many labels and independent labels. They all want you, but there’s no money, and as much as I want to do it, you also have to have another job to keep you afloat. It’s really hard to balance it out,’ Lucinda says.
Nevertheless, Lucinda’s voice is unusually beautiful, and of all the vocalists we saw perform that night she was by far the superior. There is no denying the talent of the other instrumentalists, and so if they can find time to practice whilst juggling their work schedules, then there is no reason that they shouldn’t gain the unification needed to make their sound even better. In the two tracks uploaded to their Soundcloud, you can hear this unification; lazy vocals feature around a surreal yet precise amalgamation of off-key bass notes in ‘Confusing the Wind’, while in ‘Born and Die’, a succinct bass line provides a steady offset to dreamy guitar and intense lyricism.
As recent graduates, Holy Milk still have a lot to learn, and it is clear that unless they are very lucky, then it will not be an easy excursion into the music industry. Nevertheless, their connection with NX Records has put them in good stead, and with a stream of gig offers, 2014 could just be their year of development and success.