Following up on the 2018 release of her Heartbeat EP and the standalone single “Halloween,” LA singer-songwriter Sarah Hollins returns today with an ecstatic new track. Called “This High,” it’s an easygoing alt-rock jam built on layered electric guitars and a celebration of sexual agency.
Hollins wrote the song with a specific person in mind–someone she knew wasn’t good for her in the long run, even though she was “high” on the relationship at the time–but in talking about her own intimate life, she ended up hitting on something bigger and more universal.
“I realized that it was super raw and honest, but without any filter other than my own,” she says. “A lot of songs and media are sexualized with an agenda, whether to sell something or control someone, and I wanted this to simply be an honest, vulnerable statement about how it feels to be a woman in a sexual experience.”
In making that statement, Hollins finds herself at odds with the conventions and expectations of a patriarchal culture.
“Women are typically allowed to be sexual if they’re dressed provocatively, or if it’s this heightened, unattainable fantasy, or if it’s catering to a male gaze,” she says.
To combat that distortion of reality, Hollins paints a more nuanced picture.
“Regular, every day women are sexual in their daily lives. They can wear a comfortable, oversized sweater and talk about the joy they get in having sex, or they can wear a bikini and share their thoughts on politics,” she says. “I’m beyond tired of the boxes that society tells women we’re supposed to live in–that we can only be certain things at certain times, and not our fully-realized, multi-faceted selves.”
In the music video that accompanies “This High,” Hollins salutes the women in music who inspired her artistic confidence and outspoken attitude. She digs through crates at a record store between interspersed clips of her paying homage to classic videos by the artists she’s uncovered.
On one level, it’s a tribute to the influence of MTV and VH1 on a generation of future artists–people like Hollins, who grew up memorizing pop-up trivia and pop diva choreography with her friends.
“I think, for 90s kids especially, music videos really shaped our childhoods in such a specific way,” she says. “We had less media and noise, so we really clung to the things we loved.”
But in a colorful romp that replicates iconic visuals by the likes of Liz Phair and Gwen Stefani, Hollins also hopes to draw attention to those specific acts who continue to shape current music.
“There were so many videos of the 90s and early 2000s that had a major impact on me, but I wanted to showcase the ones that really inspired me as an artist and the way that I write my music,” Hollins says. “There’s a lot of female artists and female-fronted bands right now that sound like these kickass 90s artists, and I wanted to showcase where these sounds and images originated.”
On top of that, there’s no discounting the surreal satisfaction of putting yourself in the place of your artistic idols.
“Who doesn’t want to pretend they’re Gwen Stefani for a day?” Hollins says. “It does wonders for your self esteem and your abs.”
“This High” is available now, and you can stream the video below: