SPIN Daybreaker: 23 Songs You Shouldn’t Wait Any Longer to Discover

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Remember photo albums? Matt Carins and Ryan Henderson of Hollow Coves do. The recently rediscovered albums their respective mothers put together chronicling their childhoods are the inspiration behind the Australian duo’s latest single, the aptly-titled “Photographs.”

The latest release from Hollow Coves’ upcoming second album, Nothing to Lose, “Photographs” has multi-pronged intentions. Among these are capturing moments rather than building a picture-perfect (so to speak) digital persona, and acknowledging that with analog photos, the subject was not as much the star as the person who is behind the camera and compiling the photos into memory-filled physical formats.

“We always try to write music that will challenge the listener to be authentic to themselves, to be more real and help them think about what they’re doing in this moment,” Carins and Henderson say in tandem.

“The digital world is not actually who they are. Maybe we can remind them to look back through old family photos and go back to emotions and memories. Hopefully they’ll start to think about, ‘What do I actually want in this life?’”

Signposted by their spot-on lyrics for “Photographs,” together, Cairns and Henderson break down the song’s emergence, inspiration and intention.

“It started when she looked through the lens of a camera”

“Photographs” was one of our first proper co-writes. We wrote it with another Australian artist, Matt Corby and one of his longtime collaborators, Alex Henrikkson. We wanted to start completely fresh and make something together. As artists, we fall into habits and write similarly. Your artistic choices can become boxed in. It would be interesting to see what would happen if we took ourselves out of our comfort zone and came up with something that we would never have ourselves. Matt Corby went off into a separate room, came back in with this massive smile on his face and was like, “I found something. It’s just some chords, but they feel really cool.” 

We were thinking how the previous generation, our parents, the photos would all be on film. That’s how they captured memories. [My] mom had all these old photo album books. That’s kind of a lost art now that we’ve gone into this digital world. You can get the perfect photo and there’s not really that same quality to it. It’d be cool to write a song in that space. The whole digital world being a little bit trashy compared to what we used to have.

(Credit: Catherine Bernier)

“It feels like I’m drifting away/From pictures of my younger days”

You can take 1000 photos in a day, so you don’t appreciate the individual photo as much. Back in the day, you cherished each photo because you only had so many on a roll of film. You had to be conservative. Now you have this phone filled with photos and none of them get printed, none of them get framed. They will sit there and get forgotten. It’s so special to be able to pick up that photo album and flick through the pages and see all these memories of your life. Will future generations even have something like that?

On the other side, the person in the image is the star of what you’re looking at, they’re the model. Before, it was our parents who were really the stars because they were putting in the effort to capture all these memories. It’s tragic that the art side gets lost because you’re always looking at the model person in the picture. 

“And even though nothings the same/Her legacy never fades”

Everyone cares so much about their image. You have to look like you’re doing this perfect life, taking this photo that’s the best moment of your life, which is not reality. That has an effect on other people because they’re trying to justify their lives to match what they’re seeing. They think their life’s not good enough. It creates problems.

Looking through those old photos, [and thinking] “I look disgusting,” is such a talking point and it’s so funny because no one cared. It’s capturing a moment. There’s something classic about old photos or film photos that is lost. Digital doesn’t look special. Film quality is so raw and real. That’s how we should be living because it brings out our personalities. There’s so much more color in people being real and interesting.

“I love the way she never let the moment pass”

Our mums shot a bunch of footage on the VCR camera as well. You get more of a story, but it’s still so raw and there’s that amazing quality to it we really wanted to use for the music video. The director asked if we could get these VCR tapes converted to digital so he could go through them all. He’s like, “I feel like I know you really well now because I’ve seen your childhood history and how your family acts.” He did a great job of pinpointing the right moments to bring out this story that related to the song.

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