Surrey. Stay Here. Play Everywhere.

Lydia Hol Strikes the Right Chord

Photo Credit: Lydia Hol

Lydia Hol is a talented new artist who recently cracked the Top 5 of the CBC Searchlight: On the Coast competition (and now the The PEAK Performance Project). Raised in Surrey, BC, her sound effectively blends both traditional and contemporary styles, weaving gentle, acoustic instrumentation with soft, smokey vocals. We had the opportunity to talk with Lydia this week, while she is touring on the East Coast.

Q: First off, for those who have not had the opportunity to hear your music before, how would classify it?

A: I would describe my music as folk, with both bluegrass, and traditional Irish music as strong influences. Many of my songs are stories put to music.

Listen to a track:

Q: And, I must congratulate you – you recently made it into the Top 5 of the CBC Music Searchlight: On the Coast competition! How does it feel?

A: Thank you, it feels really great! Since this competition is entirely based on voting, it means a lot that everyone took time out of their day to vote for me. As well, I’ve always been a big fan of CBC, so it’s an amazing opportunity to be part of this.

Q: You grew up in Surrey, BC, and recorded your album – Boats - on Galiano Island. How has growing up on the West Coast shaped & impacted your music?

A: The name of my EP ‘Boats’ is a good indication of how influenced I’ve been by my childhood on the West Coast. I don’t think I even realized how important the ocean was to me until I started song writing, and found myself having to resist including something about the ocean in every song! Many of my songs are tales of sailors and the sea, and I’ve found this imagery to be full of metaphor, and quite romantic.

Q: How supported do you feel by the local community, particularly with your recent Top 20 accomplishment?

A: The community has been unbelievably supportive in this contest, as well as with my music in general. I had my EP release party at the Ocean Park Hall in South Surrey this past September. It was a sold out crowd, with both The Peace Arch News and The Now Newspaper helping to engage the community. The intention behind my music is to help connect people to one another, so community involvement is extremely important to me as I continue sharing my music.

Q: I read that you play the mandolin, guitar, and bodhran – that’s quite an eclectic mix! How did that come to happen & how are they incorporated into your sound?

I started out playing guitar in Surrey’s adult education program when I was a teenager. It is the main instrument that I write with. I came to play the bodhran, a traditional Irish drum, when I went on a University exchange to Dublin, Ireland. Many people have never seen this instrument before, so it’s fun to show and play to audiences. I started playing the mandolin last year and it is my new favorite instrument. I’ve found myself writing much more upbeat songs on it as it’s so bright sounding, and it is small and much easier to transport than a guitar!

Photo Credit: Lydia Hol

Q: You got a degree in English Literature from UBC before switching your focus to music. What was a key turning point in deciding to follow a career in music? Has the degree helped assist the writing process?

At the time, studying English Literature didn’t seem to have much to do with my dream of pursuing music, but I see now how important a step it was now. My songwriting is very much influenced by my favorite authors, and getting the chance to study literature so in depth has given me a well of inspiration.

After University, the only thing I wanted to pursue was music, so I took a year off music school, studying jazz vocals before starting my career as a musician. I also attended many concerts and music festivals, and realized what a great influence music has, how much positivity it can add to the world, and realized how much I wanted to be part of that.

Q: You’re on tour now. Where can we see you & what’s next?

A: Yes, I’m on a 5-week tour on the East Coast of Canada right now. It’s very cold! When I return, I’ll be booking shows all across BC, including Surrey, so stay tuned for that! I’m also starting to record my full length album while I’m out in Halifax, so looking forward to getting started on that.

Download Lydia Hol’s EP ‘Boats‘ at