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The Bridge: Newcastle's Unforgettable Hip Hop Festival Returns - Exclusive Interview with Holly Flo Lightly

The highly anticipated hip hop festival, "The Bridge," is making its return, promising an even more spectacular experience than ever before. The three-day long, free festival is set to be a summer event to remember with events taking place across six venues throughout Newcastle. Stunning scran, top music and art are in no short supply all weekend from June 30th to July 2nd.

In an exclusive interview with the exceptionally talented singer, songwriter, and rapper, Holly Flo Lightly, Darling Magazine brings you insights into the UK Hip Hop scene, the transformative power of music, and the vital connection between music and mental health. Holly also shares a sneak peek of what awaits you at "The Bridge."

1) What is your favorite aspect of the British music scene and Hip Hop culture?

I love many things about the British Hip Hop scene, my favourite aspect is probably how music unites people. 

I played at the 2017 Bridge event where I met rappers and Hip Hop radios hosts and ended up moving to Newcastle. Straight away there were social Hip Hop events to attend and play at like Rick Fury and Gillly's ‘Raptime’.

I started jamming with musicians and met artists like Tex, I was then booked by Singer/Musician April Bensly at Soul'd out Hip Hop event - I am proud to now call these talented people my friends. 

Music provides a community of people are united by the celebration of a common passion. I love attending events and bumping into friendly faces from the scene by way of DJs, producers, promoters, singers, rappers, Bboys, graff artists - it's fun!

2) What has been the greatest influence on your sound?

Wow this is a huge question, probably a mixture of life experiences and artists I love.

The experiences I had moulded my personality and motivated me too feel the need to tell people what I'm thinking on the mic and the artists I listened to inspired me to do such a thing. Early on, it was mostly Lauren Hill of The Fugees. I love how she can go from soulful singer to badgyal rapper in half a bar.

3) What brought you to the music industry and to be involved in events like The Bridge?

As a kid I wanted to be an actress, I was singing in schools plays and stuff. As a teen, I discovered Hip Hop and DnB (Drum and Bass) [and] was obsessed with buying CDs and going to gigs and raves. 

In my twenties, I started writing poetry and it naturally progressed to rapping. I was living in Barcelona at the time, and came for a holiday on my ones to go to Boombap Hip Hop festival where I met Dave Crates of Bottomless Crates. A couple of years later, he put me onto Sandy [Duff] who booked me for The Bridge and the rest is history!

4) Music is a popular form of self expression, are you interested in any other mediums to express yourself? 

I like to express myself with fashion; I love getting a new outfit for a gig. I usually plan it weeks in advance and skint myself out. 

I have many pairs of [Nike] Airmax and a hell of a lot of Adidas. I have had a few DJ lessons and it's something I'd like to continue to develop. I like to be very involved with music videos [because] it makes sense to have creative control of the visual to the audio you've made.

5) How important are creative opportunities like The Bridge? 

I have always felt that promoters are the unsung heroes of Hip Hop - they really facilitate artists and fans. It’s a financially risky job, so I appreciate all of them. 

Due to the location of Newcastle, the area can be missed off in tours....but thanks to people like Julian [Ive] at the Cluny, Warren [Thomson] at Hoochie Coochie, Hannah [Couch] at Flat Four Records and Sandy Duff at Method Arts, Method Radio and The Bridge - [they’re] bringing over wicked UK and US acts and offering locals like myself the opportunity to support them.

It's all very well watching music videos, but a live and engaging Hip Hop show is what really sparks the community spirit and is where budding artists can really get inspired to try it themselves.

6) Similarly, creative opportunities and avenues of self expression often have a direct impact on mental health, has this been true in your experience? 

Absolutely!  Creating has helped me through my hardest times. Music is therapy, an outlet, the act of processing and expressing emotions, into a form that you're proud of [and] transforming a negative experience into something positive is cathartic and effective. 

I work with young people and run workshops where I facilitate them to express themselves creatively through music. It improves emotional intelligence, communication abilities, confidence, social skills and provides them with an outlet. Music has been one of the only consistencies in my life. It’s not something I can be sacked from, it can't dump me, it won't die... it will always be there for me when I need and that's why it is so good for my mental health!

7) What advice could you offer for anyone looking to go into music?

No one needs to take any advice ever - every person and situation is different. 

However, the advice I will give (lol) is to just do you, write for yourself and nobody else, trust your gut, be authentic, be original, learn about the roots, culture and values of your genre and do it because you love what you do and love the underground scene.

8) What should we expect from your set at The Bridge? 


It will start with head nodding and chill story telling, evolving into high energy, big bass skanking to finish!

I will be inviting artists from the local Hip Hop family on stage during my set too. I’ll even be hosting during the day - introducing acts such as Black Twang and speaking on a panel [discussing how Hip Hop can invoke positive change]. I am very excited!

9) Could you describe your sound in 3 words? 

Authentic Soulful Badgyal (!)

10) Finally, if our readers only takes one thing from this interview, what would you like it to be?

To support local Hip Hop and immerse yourself into The Bridge!

Mark your calendars for Saturday, July 1st, as Holly Flo Lightly takes the stage at the Star and Shadow Cinema, alongside a stellar lineup of artists. 

Don't miss out on Holly's performance throughout The Bridge, happening from Friday, June 30th to Sunday, July 2nd, at various venues across Newcastle. For further venue details, visit @bridgehiphopuk on Instagram.

Stay tuned as Darling Magazine brings you more exciting coverage of the festival and its extraordinary artists, like the incredible Holly Flo Lightly. Get ready to experience the heart and soul of Newcastle's Hip Hop scene at"The Bridge.

Collaborative article between AJ Craig and Onome Umukoko

Edited by Emily Duff

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