Brighton, the home of The Kooks, typical British stone beaches, LGBT communities and fresh new musical talent. I sit in Stanmer Park in Brighton, with the now autumnal crunchy leaves blowing at my feet, a tiny breeze as I wait for the – not so punctual – Toby Hollingsworth to arrive. It’s bright though and it’s a lovely day so waiting for our alt-pop dream isn’t too shabby. “Oh my god, I am so sorry, I lost track of time at the library.” I see a lanky 18-year-old sprinting over to the steel bench I was making a dent on – his hair flapping about in the breeze and his gleaming blue eyes glowing in the sunshine. Before I know it, an evolving superstar is sitting next to me. After getting him to introduce himself properly to me as a “shy boy and originally from Portsmouth”, we got stuck right in and talked about his new and upcoming debut single. “It’s about a girl. But not an actual girl. If that makes sense?” Sort of, Toby! I took a little listen and ‘Imperfect Daydream’ is in fact a dream. I told him it was and he shifted on his bum, staring at me in disbelief, looking at me as if I was not being serious about his music. In the first few minutes I learnt that he was a pensive person and it’s shown in his song writing. “Lots of people have had a huge input to this without even realising it. Do you know how you get certain personality traits off your friends and from different people? It’s a bit like that.” You could tell he loved his friends and the people around him, he spoke about them with passion and devotion, they are his inspiration for his first ever single.
You get to know someone a lot by who their musical influences are and Toby’s influences are mixed and quite surprising, “I’d love to collaborate with Frank Ocean if I was lucky enough and got to a point in my career where it would be acceptable.” He also likes John Mayer who is an American singer and song writer. Aspects of his influences are laced throughout his debut single and carry the piece perfectly. “I admire them and look up to them as artists,” talking about music with Toby is like a breath of fresh air. He wants to do this for the rest of his life, his eyes light up when he talks about it and he’d prefer “music, straight up” to his difficult and very academic degree of Chemistry. Sounds boring, right? I have to ask him the most important question, a question that anyone wants to hear. “Which Gallagher is your favourite?” because we all have a favourite and it has to be Liam. I hope Toby pulls this one out of the bag and tells me what I want to hear! “Noel Gallagher’s a bit of a dick, he’s boring compared to Liam”…What about the music though, Toby? “Noel’s music is too forced, Liam’s new album is spectacular, it’s just class isn’t it?” We agree!
Meeting the alt-pop dream Toby Hollingsworth was a pleasure, his passion radiates onto me as I leave the interview, getting a hug first of course. I leave feeling clear about what type of artist he is going to be, what he wants and a positive feeling that he will make it. He has big aspirations and large goals. Drive and motivation is key, just ask Toby.
Words by Georgia Blackman