Holly Throsby

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Holly Throsby
A twenty-nine year-old woman is standing at a microphone. She is playing a six-string guitar with her left had on the fret board and her right at the strings. She wears over shoulder length red-brown hair and a light coloured dress. She stares out forwards.
Holly Throsby, The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
September 2008
Background information
Birth nameHolly Sarah Throsby
Born (1978-12-28) 28 December 1978 (age 40)
OriginSydney, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician, novelist
Years active2004–present
LabelsSpunk/EMI, ABC
Associated acts

Holly Sarah Throsby (born 28 December 1978) is an Australian musician and novelist. As a solo artist Throsby has issued six albums. She was nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Female Artist in 2006 for Under the Town (July 2006); and in the same category in 2008 for A Loud Call (July 2008). In 2011 she was nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Children's Album for See! (October 2010), her album of alternative children's songs. From August 2010 to the end of 2011 Throsby was a member of Seeker Lover Keeper, with fellow singer-songwriters, Sally Seltmann and Sarah Blasko. They released an album of the same name in June 2011, which peaked at No. 3 and was nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Alternative Album in that year.

Throsby's debut novel, Goodwood, was published by Allen & Unwin on 28 September 2016. Goodwood came in at #7 on ABC’s The Book Club’s Top Ten; and was #3 on Dymocks’ list of the Best Books of 2016. Goodwood has been since been shortlisted for an Indie Book Award, two Australian Book Industry Awards, two Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, and a Ned Kelly Award. Her second novel, Cedar Valley, was published in September 2018.[1]


Holly Sarah Throsby is the daughter of Margaret Throsby, a radio presenter on Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) Classic FM; and John Buttsworth, a psychiatrist and art and furniture dealer.[2][3][4] Her uncle, David Throsby is a cultural economist, and her maternal grandmother was a cellist in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.[3] Her older half-brother, Timothy Marc, died in a motorcycle accident in Thailand in 1996.[3] Throsby grew up in Sydney and began studying guitar at the age of 8. She studied classical guitar techniques and began composing from the age of 11. She attended Hunters Hill High School for her secondary education.[5]

Throsby later recalled the death of her brother "I was 17 when [he] died and I had one exam left in my HSC. I went to the exam and did all that stuff because I thought you had to keep on doing that stuff and I didn't stop... Those things affect you. I think it has made me scared. It made me scared to travel because he died when he was in Bangkok. It made me scared to get on a motorcycle, which I've never done. It made me scared when other people travel away from me."[5] After earning a B.A. degree (major in English) from the University of Sydney, Throsby worked at an art house video store for several years and travelled overseas, including living in Austin, Texas for six months.[6]

During 2003 Throsby recorded her debut album, On Night (11 November 2004), with experimental producer, Tony Dupé, at his cottage on Saddleback Mountain, near Kiama.[7] Throsby provided lead vocals and guitar, additional musicians were Dupé on piano and pump organ, Davey Cotsios on guitar and backing vocals, Abel Cross on bass guitar and double bass, and Joseph Fuse on drums.[7] In Australia it appeared on the indie label, Spunk Records.[6] AllMusic's Mark Deming described her album of "uncluttered but emotionally resonant songs made a major impact with critics."[6] Chloe Persing of Woroni felt it was "a collection of quaint and delicate acoustic songs that have a lyrical focus on themes such as loneliness and distance, and have the ability to resonate quite powerfully."[8]

Throsby toured Australia supporting various musical acts: Bonnie "Prince" Billy (a.k.a. Will Oldham), Joanna Newsom, Bill Callahan/ Smog, M. Ward, Devendra Banhart, Jose Gonzales, Low and The Eels.[9] She toured in the United States, attending SXSW in 2005 and returning for a support tour with David Pajo (Slint, Interpol, Papa M). Throsby also toured Europe, including the United Kingdom, with Micah P. Hinson. In September 2005 Throsby's cover version of "Not the Girl You Think You Are" was compiled on the various artist's album, She Will Have Her Way – a tribute to singer-songwriters, and brothers, Tim and Neil Finn.[10] Fellow female singers on the album include Sarah Blasko and Sally Seltmann (as New Buffalo).[10]

In July 2006, Throsby released her second album, Under the Town, it was produced by Dupé again but included a larger group of session musicians.[11][12] Dupé assisted with piano, bouzouki, clarinet and trumpet; Jens Birchall provided cello and double bass; Rebecca and Samantha Brown (twin sisters) both played violin, Jack Ladder was on bass guitar and Bree van Reyk played drums.[13] It reached the ARIA Albums Chart top 100.[14] It also reached No. 2 on the related Hitseekers Albums chart.[14] The ARIA Report cited her "distinctive, fragile voice" with her "country-folk sound and poignant lyrics regarding all things from howling wolves to coffee pots" which have "struck a chord with music lovers."[14] Under the Town was lauded by music critics; including the UK press with ratings of 3/5 in Uncut, 4/5 in Mojo, and 8/10 from Drowned in Sound's Dom Gourlay.[15] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2006 Throsby was nominated for Best Female Artist for the album.[16][17]

Ed Nimmervoll, an Australian music journalist, declared Under the Town to be his Feature Album for the week of 5 September that year.[12] He explained that "she's moving on, growing. What hasn't changed is the revealing, daring nature of her songs, Holly musing on life and love in a quiet breathless provocative voice, accentuating every word. She's sensual and fragile. The songs are filled with images and feelings that spill between the songs."[12] Mess+Noise's Craig Mathieson opined that "playfulness comes easily, but it’s the unease that lingers" while her "voice has an airy, splintered tone – certain syllables crack under the pressure – and she uses it to move easily between gently plangent pop and formal folk constructs."[18]

Throsby promoted the album with a national tour, interrupted by a short tour of New Zealand.[19] She described her writing process to Laura MacIntyre of MediaSearch website, "I've never had any music lessons, I don't understand music theory. I make chord shapes, but I really just make things up as I go along ... I have ideas for a song, a song can start from one word, one image ... Melodies seem to pop out of thin air often, as if the song is already written, the melodies just seem to come. It's almost involuntary.”[19]

Throsby's third album, A Loud Call (July 2008), was produced in Nashville by Mark Nevers (Lambchop, Andrew Bird) with string and horn arrangements recorded in Kangaroo Valley (near Kiama) by Dupé.[20] It includes guest vocals by Bonnie "Prince" Billy and guest musicians from Lambchop and Silver Jews.[20] A Loud Call was hailed by the Australian and the British press as Throsby's strongest work. Joel Bryant of Same Same website praised its "instrumental depth, a notable departure from the bareness of her previous albums."[21] Daily Mirror's Gavin Martin described Throsby as "sylph-like" and that "Pumping up the volume is not in [her] game plan" on her "alluring album" as she "knows decibels aren't needed to capture emotional wonders."[22] Mark Deming of AllMusic felt she was "able to sound fragile and strong at the same time; there's a wary vulnerability in her breathy vocals, but the emotional power of her music is enough to persuade anyone that this is someone who possesses a firm will when she needs it."[20]

A Loud Call peaked at No. 34 on the ARIA Albums Chart – her highest placement as a solo artist.[23] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2008 it provided her second nomination as Best Female Artist.[24] Throsby toured extensively in Australia, as well as tours in Europe with Paul Kelly,[25] The Handsome Family,[26] and The Tallest Man on Earth[26] – who covered Throsby's track, "To Begin With", at his subsequent live shows. Throsby played at the St Jerome's Laneway,[27][28] and Splendour in the Grass festivals in 2007 and 2009.[29][30]

In October 2010 Throsby released an album of original children's songs, See!.[31] Billed as an alternative "black sheep" children's album, See! was recorded in January of that year with guest cameos by Darren Hanlon, J. Walker, Jack Ladder and, her mother, Margaret Throsby. It was released through ABC Music. Throsby and her band, The Hello Tigers – with Bree van Reyk on drums and percussion and Jens Birchall on cello, bass and mandolin[31] – have performed the album as a live show at festivals in the Australian state capitals.

Throsby told Darren Levin of Mess+Noise, "I thought it'd be fun to make one for friends who had kids... hanging out with them, and babysitting them, and driving around in the car listening to this children's music that just made me want to stab my ears out... I thought it'd be a nice idea to make an album that wasn't like warbling 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' over a really bad background."[32] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2011 she was nominated for an ARIA Award for Best Children's Album for See!.[33]

In February 2011 Throsby released her fifth solo album, Team, which peaked in the ARIA Albums Chart top 50.[23] It was recorded in a 19th-century church in Wildes Meadow with Dupé producing. Team received four-star reviews in the Australian and British press and was lauded as her most experimental album, eschewing traditional song structure for layered, intersecting vocals expressing varying points of view around the subject of a relationship breakdown. Chris Trout of Drowned in Sound found she was "a brilliant writer of melodies, even when shackled to a trad blueprint" where "the lyrics are affecting because the imagery Throsby employs is neither too personal and specific... nor too self-consciously 'poetic'... to communicate much to the listener except that she is in the presence of a Good Writer."[34]

Throsby's debut novel, Goodwood, was published by Allen & Unwin on 28 September 2016. Goodwood came in at #7 on ABC’s The Book Club’s Top Ten; and was #3 on Dymocks’ list of the Best Books of 2016. Goodwood has since been shortlisted for an Indie Book Award, two Australian Book Industry Awards, two Sisters in Crime Davitt Awards, and a Ned Kelly Award. In support of the book, Throsby appeared at festivals including the Sydney Writers Festival, Perth Writers Festival, Adelaide Writers Festival, Newcastle Writers Festival and at numerous live book events, including in Melbourne, Brisbane and Hobart.

Throsby released After a Time in 2017. Recorded by Tim Kevin, the album featured a Throsby-penned duet with Mark Kozelek called "What Do You Say?" and performances from Mick Turner from Dirty Three as well as Bree van Reyk, Jens Birchall and Marcus Whale (Collarbones, BV). After a Time was longlisted for the Australian Music Prize and was included in Rolling Stone Magazine's top 50 albums of the year, and music journalist Bernard Zuel's top 10. A year after the album's release, "What Do You Say?" had over 2 million streams on Spotify and the song "Aeroplane" had over 11 million streams.

Other projects[edit]

Holly Throsby & Kevin Mitchell performing at the Bob Dylan Tribute Concert, Sydney Opera House, July 2012.

In addition to recording, Throsby has written and illustrated two comic books which act as companion pieces to her albums. Throsby has contributed to albums by Josh Pyke, The Sleepy Jackson, Hayden, TZU and Jack Ladder.

From August 2010 Throsby, along with Sarah Blasko and Sally Seltmann, was a member of the vocal trio, Seeker Lover Keeper.[35] In June 2011 their debut album was released, which had been recorded in New York with engineer Victor Van Vugt (PJ Harvey, Nick Cave) and Dirty Three's drummer, Jim White as well as van Reyk on drums. It debuted at No. 3 on the ARIA Albums Chart and achieved gold accreditation.[36][37] At the ARIA Music Awards of 2011 the album was nominated for Best Adult Alternative Album.[38]

In October 2011 the trio provided a cover version of "Sinner" for the third Finn brothers tribute album by various artists, They Will Have Their Way, which also included Throsby's earlier rendition of "Not the Girl You Think You Are".[39] To promote it Throsby and the group toured Australia with other artists on the related They Will Have Their Way Tour in November of that year.[40][41] Seeker Lover Keeper completed two national tours in 2011 and 2012, before each artist resumed their solo careers.

In July 2012 Throsby undertook a tour of Bob Dylan Tribute Concerts with fellow Australian artists Patience Hodgson, Kevin Mitchell, Josh Pyke and Kav Temperley.[42]


In popular culture[edit]

  • Throsby's song "A Heart Divided" is featured on an international TV and cinema campaign for Tourism Victoria, filmed in Australia and Finland. The ad was directed by Mike Daly and aired during the Australian Open coverage in the U.S. in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
  • Throsby's song 'To Begin With' has been covered live by The Tallest Man On Earth. Her song 'Under The Town' was recorded by rock band Kisschasy. It was also remixed by Machine Translations and Mountains In The Sky. Sarah Blasko has covered 'We're Good People But Why Don't We Show It?'.
  • On his 2015 Australian tour, Mark Kozelek of Sun Kil Moon mentioned Throsby in the lyrics of an unreleased song about touring in Australia. Throsby and Kozelek toured together in Australia in 2005.

Personal life[edit]

Throsby wrote an article, "Sing out loud: marriage equality is in tune with the times", for The Sydney Morning Herald in December 2013 describing her same sex relationship: "I would like to be able to get married" but "Australian law says my partner and I aren't allowed".[45] Throsby and her partner are the parents of a child: she described her family in Motherhood and Creativity (April 2015) by Rachel Power.[46] The book includes interviews with other celebrities: Claudia Karvan, Rachel Griffiths, Clare Bowditch and Del Kathryn Barton.[47]

Throsby discussed her cocaine use in Talking Smack (July 2014) by Andrew McMillen.[48] The book features "Honest conversations about drugs" with other Australian musicians, including Paul Kelly, Gotye, Mick Harvey and Phil Jamieson.[48]



Seeker Lover Keeper


  • Things Between People (2004)
  • Everything Sings Out [UK tour EP] (2006)
  • One of You for Me (2007)




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  2. ^ Funnell, Sandra (28 April 1982). "A day in the life Margaret Throsby". The Australian Women's Weekly. National Library of Australia. pp. 118–119. Retrieved 28 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b c Verghis, Sharon (25 October 2008). "Broadcast Muse". Good Weekend, The Age. Fairfax Media.
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  8. ^ Persing, Chloe (1 March 2005). "Music: Holly Throsby On Night". Woroni. Canberra, ACT: National Library of Australia. p. 26. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
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  43. ^ http://www.yellowbirdproject.com
  44. ^ "Voiceless, the animal protection institute".
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  46. ^ Junkee (26 March 2015). "Holly Throsby on Motherhood, Creativity and Sexism in the Music Industry". Junkee. Retrieved 31 July 2015.
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  48. ^ a b McMillen, Andrew; McMillen, Stuart (2014), Talking smack: honest conversations about drugs, St Lucia, Queensland: University of Queensland Press, ISBN 978-0-7022-5323-2
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