Nice to Meet You

Kevin Holliday on OMNI, Dinner with Beethoven, and the Joys of Being Anti-Pop

Kevin Holliday

Photos by Tamara May.

This is Nice to Meet You, your go-to source for all the need-to-know information on the newest voices in pop culture. Think of it as a blind date, if the date were cooler than anyone you’ll ever go out with. Allow us to break the ice; we promise you’ll fall in love.

In this edition of NTMU, we shine the spotlight on the Brooklyn-bred artist Kevin Holliday. Since his debut EP, 2019’s Space Cadet, put Holliday on the map, the genre-bending artist has been hard at work on his latest offering. Earlier this year, Holliday’s latest single, “Tennis Courts,” landed him a highly sought-after place on Spotify’s “anti-pop” playlist. Now, he’s doubling down on his notoriously label-defying sound with OMNI—out today. The sophomore EP sees Holliday demonstrate a newly-acquired confidence, flexing his musical muscles with nods to the likes of Prince and Pharrell. To mark the release, Holliday spoke with us about the new project, his ever-so-eclectic list of musical inspirations, and the “art of disguising your sources.”


On the process of recording OMNI: “This EP is a collection of all my influences—family, friends, and the stuff I grew up listening to. Everything that’s ever made an impression on me was very monumental to my music. So this project is paying homage to my upbringing. It’s called OMNI because everything is coming together. My main goal when I make music is to make people feel good. Even if it’s a sad song, if it makes me feel something, then that’s all that matters to me.”

On evolution: “Space Cadet was me figuring out everything that I like. It was me throwing ideas at the wall. Whereas with OMNI, I was really focused on the execution. With my vocal delivery and my cadence, everything sounds more confident. I think it really comes through in the music.”

On growing up in Brooklyn: “I feel like Brooklyn has played such a huge role in the way that I think about music. My brothers would always listen to Dipset and Max B. It definitely opened my eyes to the fact that there are no rules, really. You can approach music from any angle. As long as you’re being authentic, people will fuck with it one way or another. Brooklyn taught me how to be myself.”

On being classified as “anti-pop”: “I don’t really like my music to be labeled. First and foremost, I’m an artist. Anything past that is just people’s opinions. Obviously, I appreciate being added to playlists like that, but I feel like people naturally just want to categorize things. Not everything belongs in a box.”

On disguising your sources: “I definitely like to listen to other music while I make my own when I’m lacking inspiration. Experimenting with different ideas is essential. It’s gonna sound weird, but so much of making art is really just the art of disguising your sources. Nothing comes out of thin air. Everybody is influenced by something. It’s a matter of taking your influences and twisting them in a way that’s completely different.”

On his retro sound: “I’m influenced by a lot of ‘70s funk. I love Rick James and Stevie Wonder. I have an eclectic taste in music. I’ll listen to country, too. Music is like a painting. You want to draw from everything and create layers. That’s how I like to think about it. I’m really influenced by my parent’s taste in music. Growing up, they would play Marvin Gaye, Commodores, and Earth, Wind, and Fire. I think that’s why a lot of my music has a retro feel.”

On astrology: “I’m a Libra. My girlfriend is really into it. She’ll tell me all these different things about why I act a certain way and I’m just like, ‘okay.’”

On films: “I’m a big fan of Hayao Miyazaki. My favorite movie is Spirited Away. It’s so good and eerie in a weird way, but still beautiful. I’m also a sucker for Forest Gump. That movie is fire. The only thing is that it’s like ten hours long, but I highly recommend it.”

On Prince: “I wasn’t a kid who played instruments growing up, but when I heard his album For You, it made me want to make music. It completely blew my mind. My favorite song off of that album is “Soft and Wet.” It’s the production, honestly. I also love “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “If I Was Your Girlfriend.”

On his dream dinner guests: “I’m gonna say some wild shit just to make it interesting. Beethoven, Kanye, Ginuwine, and Bobby Brown. I feel like I wouldn’t even have to say anything.”