Heather Scott and Taylor Holland knew each other through mutual friends but didn’t form a bond until they sang together and realized how much they enjoyed doing it. “It was summer of 2016 that we started playing more regularly, and within a month we got an opportunity to make our first album,” Scott says. “Tay ended up canceling her cross-country move so that we could finish it, and we just kept going from there.”
Scott and Holland went on to form Hawthorn, a collaboration born from a blend of organic harmonies, banjo, and dreamy electric lines. In a few short years, they've released two LPs and played venues all around town, including Brighton Music Hall for Bust Out Boston, a festival of all womxn/non-binary artists.
The secret’s out about one of the city's best-kept secrets. And the whimsical alt-folk duo has built enough momentum to soon make their break out of Boston. I caught up with them to learn about how they got started and where they're finding inspiration today. Excerpts below.
Their first show together was in a refurbished-steel factory-turned-cooperative household near Inman Square.
They were hosting a concert that we were asked to open for. At the time we weren’t officially a band yet! We each played a few songs alone and then did a few together, and it was like...the sound just worked. Our voices were really different but they complimented each other, and people loved it.
The first song they wrote together was “Salt.”
That song started with the first lines from Heather: “In your dreams of the salt and waves, do you see me there?” We took ourselves into that dreamscape and imagined what else would be happening there. It became a place of bonfires, waterfalls, decaying boats…the wildness that happens when elements converge.
We write in a lot of different ways, from completely individually crafted songs to starting at the beginning together-it’s always an evolving process because it’s essentially baring your soul to another person and then letting them tell you how they think it could be represented better.
They collectively find inspiration in their individual tastes...
Heather loves indie artists, like Wet, who inform her vocal arrangements.
One of Tay’s newest songs was influenced by a Genesis song she transcribed for banjo.
The Dixie Chicks are definitely inspiring another song we’re working on right now. The next record will have a lot of sounds reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt and Fleetwood Mac, and also contemporary artists like Lucius and Maggie Rogers.
...and in fellow Boston-based musicians.
There are so many amazing folks coming out of Boston right now that it’s hard to pick names. We’re up for the Boston Music Awards “Best Folk Artist,” and in that category alone you’ve got Lula Wiles, Gentle Temper, Honeysuckle, Anjimile, Wolff Sisters...
But honestly, we listen all over genre lines.
Most of their collective listening happens when driving to shows.
We end up choosing a lot of high-energy, fun-to-sing-along-to stuff that helps us either get amped for the show or stay awake on the drive home. ABBA, Destiny’s Child, Bruce Springsteen, Bruce Hornsby, Celine Dion, etc.
Heather also has a secret pop-punk obsession that comes out on long drives.
Speaking of long drives, their drummer once had to drive through four hours of traffic, in a rainstorm, to get to a show at Club Passim.
We had to start without him and he set up while we were playing “In The Morning” and the drums entered right on the song’s climax after the guitar solo! Everyone in the room was losing their minds with how perfectly the timing worked out, we had chills, and the band was so connected with each other for the rest of the set.
Before each show, they ask each other, “Why are we doing this?”
It’s a moment to affirm how much we love playing together, and how grateful and excited we are to be able to share our music with other people.
The unofficial (pre-performance) ritual is texting each other photos of our closet while we decide on outfits.
Career options outside of music?
We’d definitely still be playing music, and teaching it too! Heather would be a practicing herbalist and a personal chef. Taylor would still be an elementary school teacher but she’d get more sleep and go to more dance classes.
Where Boston can see you perform next?
We’re hosting an intimate holiday concert at the Canopy Room at Bow Market on December 6. Expect originals, seasonal covers, and some special guests! Here’s the ticket link.
The Boston Music Awards recently selected Hawthorn to be a part of the 617Sessions, a program that recognizes Boston-based artists who are making great contributions to the local scene and rewards them with a day of studio recording. Listen to their song below.