Royal Holland
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Royal Holland

Newport, Kentucky, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2014 | SELF

Newport, Kentucky, United States | SELF
Established on Jan, 2014
Band Folk Rock




"How to Overcome Failure in the Music Industry: 8 Musicians Weigh In"

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but you're going to fail.

"Art is about taking risks and trying new things," Thomas Becker of Beautiful Bodies explains. "Inevitably, you are going to fail. I cannot tell you how many terrible songs I've written, or how often I've made a fool of myself onstage. If I didn't try these things, though, I never would have come up with my most creative songs or figured out how to perform live with confidence. Successful musicians accept that failure is inevitable, and they learn from their missteps."

Folk singer Royal Holland seconds this, saying, "I always find failure a catalyst for success. It truly spurs me on to understand why I failed, and how I can adjust my thinking to be certain it won't happen again. It's how we gain wisdom and experience. Those are two of the most invaluable things to be sought in this business."

With that in mind, I spoke with Becker, Holland, and six other musicians about overcoming failure and finding success in its wake.

1. Thomas Becker of Beautiful Bodies: Losing a competition sucks, but staying a sloppy band is even worse
"I was fortunate that the first band I played in had a sizable following in our local music scene. A friend asked us to play my high school's battle of the bands, and after continual prodding about it, we reluctantly said yes. We thought battle of the bands were silly. What is worse is that we figured winning would be a piece of cake since we were the only 'established' band in the competition. We quickly realized that we were wrong. The judges called us out on being sloppy, and the crowd was bored to death during our show. We lost.

"Although we did not care about the competition initially, losing was a blow. At first we were pissed, but then we started to examine why we lost. We did well in our music community, but that scene was comprised mostly of friends, and, frankly, we were merely a big fish in a very small pond. We were sloppy together, our songs were not particularly memorable, and we needed to practice our instruments. We realized that we had become comfortable getting by in our own uncritical scene, but to make it outside of that scene, we had to get our act together.

"We began to practice more frequently, and our songs and live show improved dramatically. Six months later, we got our first record deal offered to us. Losing that battle of the bands forced us to reflect on our band, and address our weaknesses. It was disappointing to lose, but continuing as a mediocre band would have been significantly more disappointing."

2. Royal Holland: In order to create great music, you need to take care of yourself first
"I was in the thick of recording my second EP, Volume Two: Flamingo, in early 2015, and struggling with seasonal depression. The kind where you feel as if you've somehow become a fake person, just going through mechanical predetermined movements. Brian Olive (who produced, engineered, and mixed the EP) noticed that I was having a rough time and asked me about it. I told him I really just wanted to give up on the whole thing. I told him the songs weren't any good, and that I couldn't see any point in making them. I had fallen into the trap of comparing myself to others. I was feeling like I was coming up short, feeling as if my art was somehow not valid because I didn't feel valid. My songs seemed so alien and foreign to me. My voice even felt like it was someone else's as I sang in the booth. It's like I was a stranger in the place where I usually feel most at home.

"I nearly scrapped the EP to wait for spring when I felt I could start over, but Brian was very influential and supportive. He told me we should just keep going with it, and see where it ended up. I'm very glad we did, because it turned out to be a very solid release that has led to important career-building relationships for me in the past year, and I'm finishing up my third EP, which we're in the thick of now. If I had scrapped it and waited until spring, the timing of things wouldn't have coordinated in the right way, and I'd likely have been, in a way, starting over again, instead of moving forward.

"It goes to show that you need to take care of yourself as a creative person. Being mentally unhealthy is a kind of failure to yourself, to your art, and to those who might relate to it in a very real way. If you've got the fire for it – and you'll know if it's there – don't give up making music. I tried it for a few years once, and it made me even more miserable."

3. Jessica Forsythe of Sick of Sarah: You can't control what happens, but you can control how you react
"My career has had its fair share of ups and downs, and I have made plenty of mistakes. Every show, every practice, every tour has its failure. Whether it's missed notes, broken sticks, or band drama, I have experienced quite a bit of it. It's been important to embrace the failure and grow from it. Failure is inevitable. How I choose to react and respond to failure is the key to being one step closer to success."

4. EagleWolfSnake: Sometimes one door has to close for another one to open
"When we had our shot in a previous band to 'showcase' for a major label, we did not get picked up. This could be viewed as a failure. This was followed by more showcases and working with management that had us chasing the dream by changing our name, clothes, music, etc., and of course, the band did not last through it. For us, though, it has been serendipitous, because it allowed that project to dissolve and for this new project to emerge that is truer to our indie spirit, and geared way more towards music, and much less towards 'making it.'"

Apply to CMW early

5. Chrissy DePauw of ArtPeace: Every little setback has a purpose
"In 2007, I was being chauffeured into the offices of every major label, and being promised the world. When nothing panned out as planned, I found a producer and began executive producing my album. An investor then fell into my lap. I got to have full creative control of everything!

"When I was leaving those major label meetings I would always feel sick. Sick at the thought of giving up creative control. Scared of being shelved, or dropped. Everyone knows a new artist usually doesn't get to call the shots, and the chance of their album being released is pretty slim. So even though I felt like I failed by not getting signed when I thought [I would], I gained an amazing, fruitful experience that led me where I am today. I sold over 30,000 copies of my acoustic album and toured the college circuit, which is why the most amazing songwriter, Miss Taura Stinson, decided to take a chance on me! We are now in – as others describe it – a sophisticated dream-pop duo! Every little setback has a purpose. As long as you get up and start moving forward again, you will find your way!"

6. herMajesty: Experiencing failure helps you reconnect with what you truly care about
"A few years ago, I was in a band called Shades of Grey. We were offered a deal by a major indie label after our first NYC show. Our manager insisted that we could get a better deal with a major label, and convinced us to pass on the offer. Although, subsequently, we had the opportunity to work with Carlos Alomar (who is David Bowie’s ex-bandleader and guitarist), be represented by an established music law firm, and had several major labels pursuing us, we were unable to procure a record deal. The band did not survive this turn of events, and we disbanded. This was a major disappointment that left me reeling and doubting my ability to continue creating music.

"After much soul searching, I was able to define for myself why I chose to write and perform music in the first place, which helped to reconnect me with my muse. This experience gave me an opportunity to delineate success with writing honest, emotional songs that captured my experience, and not define success according to the industry terms of 'making it.'

Challenging situations allowed me to delve deeper into the songwriting process and helped to shape my identity as a musician and performer. I felt liberated and inspired to explore aspects of my world without pressure to do it for any other reason than the fact that it brings me tremendous joy. Judging by the way audiences respond to herMajesty's live shows, I know this is the right approach."

7. Audrey Karrasch: It's okay to laugh at yourself
"I was asked to sing the anthem at a Tampa Bay NFL game. I was really excited. I arrived, and they had a personalized jersey for me.... I was singing with in-ear monitors the stadium supplied because there’s about a four-second delay in a stadium that size. Unless you want to sing the longest and slowest National Anthem ever, it's imperative those earbuds work. The soundcheck went smoothly. I was singing comfortably, and even turned around to see how huge my face looked on those screens. I felt confident and prepared.

"The game was about to start, and I was escorted on the field. Cheerleaders were standing in formation, cameras were all up in my face. I walked ten steps out on the 50-yard line, and I hear this painful pop in my ear piece. 'Oh crap,' I think. I can't hear anything. The sound guys are immediately aware of what had happened, and they wanted to hide for me. I guess my ear monitors had exploded.

"The crowd got really quiet. I made a nervous face in the camera and decided to just give it a go. I took my right shoulder and jammed it as close to my ear as possible and shoved my index finger in my left ear. This was not a pleasant sight. As I was singing and trying to stay in time and on pitch with the four-second delay, I could hear people around me saying, 'What is she doing?!' The camera guy was unsuccessful in getting any angle of me that didn't look like I was dodging a group of bees. Somehow I finished the song. I walked off the field knowing it was a disaster.

"The sound people were perplexed. 'How could this happen?' they asked. 'This has never happened before.' I grabbed my mom's arm and smiled at her. Some people would recognize me as I was walking up the stands and I heard some reluctant 'well dones.' My mom and I just broke out in laughter as we ran to the nearest concession stand to devour some pretzels with cheese and act like it never happened.

"Sometimes stuff just happens. I have learned to never have expectations and never get my hopes up, [and instead] enjoy the moments I'm in, and look forward to the times ahead. I figure everyone has a bad day at work, right? It's important to learn how to laugh at it."

8. Sofia B: Nothing permanently knocks you down if you love what you do
"I attended Berklee College of Music on a scholarship and graduated with honors, worked in the music industry in NYC for a year, and still found myself unsigned. I was a good student, yet it wasn't enough! Maybe it was my own doing that I didn't find myself on the doorstep of a label to save me, but, pun intended, I never liked labels anyway. After writing an entire record in NYC (titled In The City), I ran out of visa time and money, and went back to the UK.

"Heartbroken – because every [international] musician dreams of making it in America – I decided to make the most out of it, and not forget my love for music. I went on tour with a good friend of mine, Siv Jakobsen, [who is an] up-and-coming Norwegian songstress, and sort of got to have the UK college experience I never got to have. I met some incredible people, and it really just made me take a step back and realize how even if you play a crowded bar/cafe/restaurant or what have you, getting the chance to sit for an assigned period of time to sing your heart out, literally, is enough for me. If I get paid, well, that just makes it all the more worth it!

"I suppose what I've learned from failure is that the only way to stop feeling like one is to pour love into everything you do, because nothing bad can come from love."

As all of these artists have pointed out, failure can reap numerous rewards. A failure can teach you a better way to go about something. A failure can put you on a path that turns out to be better for you. A failure can even save you from a situation you'll later realize you didn't want to be in. The only way a failure can have a finality to it is if you allow it to. We often think of failure as an inherently negative concept, but only you can make failure a negative thing.

Aaliyah once sang, "If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again." While maneuvering through your career as an artist, be prepared to dust yourself off a lot. Just know that each time you do, your career is going to be better for it. -

"Today's Replay - IndieBeat"

Hailing from Cincinnati, singer-songwriter Matt Mooney has recently released his second EP under his Royal Holland moniker. The stage name carries a conceptual journey of youth love lost through death—and the memory and grief that results—over an expanse of a 3-EP experience. This Flamingo EP is a response to Royal Holland’s The Maze, in its attempts to answer the existential questions provoked in the debut EP. Opening the album, The Grave is a fantastic introduction to the inviting and emotionally edgy aesthetic that Mooney creates with this project. With esoterically textured layering combined with cerebral folk-rock psychedelia and longing vocals, this is incredibly reminiscent of Father John Misty in its charm and authenticity. It’s both therapeutic and invigorating, a dramatically ruminating and dynamically sympathetic depiction of Royal Holland’s vision and devotion. - Indie Beat


Earlier this summer, Newport, Ky.-based singer/songwriter Matt Mooney released the second of three planned EPs under his project named Royal Holland, Volume Two – Flamingo. Like last year’s acclaimed Volume One – The Maze (which won the Ohio Music Award for “Best Folk CD”), Flamingo was recorded locally with noted producer (and acclaimed singer/songwriter in his own right) Brian Olive.

While Mooney toured behind The Maze as a solo act, he has been performing in support of Flamingo with a full band that includes local musicians Margaret Darling (keys, vocals, percussion), Wonky Tonk (bass, vocals), Matt Retherford (drums) and, occasionally, Kendall Bruns (ukulele, vocals). Retherford and Bruns (currently based in Chicago) played with Mooney in his previous group, Koala Fires. Mooney and his Royal Holland band host a local release party for Flamingo Friday at MOTR Pub (1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, The free 9 p.m. show also includes special guests Nanny.

While Folk is a part of Royal Holland’s sound, on Flamingo Mooney toys with the boundaries of that genre tag with a sound that incorporates heavy doses of Rock and Indie Pop (the light Electronic dashes from the first EP are largely gone). Whatever you want to call it, Flamingo once again shows Mooney’s fantastic — and evolving — abilities as a songwriter. EP opener “The Grave” is a great example, as it dramatically builds from a slow-burning simmer to full bluster without ever overshadowing the strong melodic pull of the song. The track “Flamingo” follows, bouncing on a jaunty piano riff, which belies the fantastically introspective and often dark lyrics (“We pile on all of this, so we can keep forgetting/That we’re frail and ill-equipped for these lives we’re barely living”). The final two tracks, “Polaroid Blues” and “These Mundane Lives,” are two of the more straightforward “Pop Rock” songs Royal Holland has produced, though they still have a cerebral depth and compelling lyrical qualities that make a two-word description seem ridiculously inadequate.

Holland’s debut EP was fantastic, but with Flamingo, Mooney shows a growth and expansion that should make him scores of new fans.

And as Mooney continues to show his seemingly boundless range of talent, those fans should be giddy to hear what he comes up with on Royal Holland’s third EP, on which he and Olive are reportedly already working. Mooney’s one of Greater Cincinnati’s great, more underrated singer/songwriters, and as stellar as Flamingo is, it still feels like it’s only scratching the surface of what Mooney is capable of with Royal Holland.

Volume Two – Flamingo is available to preview and/or purchase at - CityBeat


RATING: 9 / 10

Genre: Alternative Rock, Folk
Songwriting – 9 | Music – 9 | Vocals – 9

Cincinnati, Ohio has birthed a number of music’s biggest names, including: Antonio “LA” Reid, Rascal Flatts, The Isley Brothers, and now the city has another one in the making – Royal Holland. I had the opportunity to review Royal’s first volume in this series of self-titled EP’s and can tell you, the guy is consistently good. Volume Two: Flamingo is a very cool project that lives in the Alternative Folk-Rock lane. Similar to his first volume release, this project has 5 tracks that breathe life into the U.S. indie music scene.

The most notable track – in my opinion – on Volume Two: Flamingo is “Polaroid Blues“, which is perfectly named to match the tone and grooves in the music – vintage. This song carries the same sound that made Pink Floyd and Queen so legendary, which is why it stood out amongst all of the other great songs on ‘Flamingo’. Royal Holland delivers a vocal performance that the rock legends before him would be proud of; from the harmonies to the melodies, this guy sings the song well. In addition to the vocals, the music is flat out awesome! The mix, drums, and guitar work are all cleverly crafted to invoke nostalgia in the minds of real rock music fans who remember the great bands of the 60’s & 70’s. Just listen to this song and you’ll feel/understand every word I’m saying.

In addition to “Polaroid Blues”, Volume Two: Flamingo offers three other songs that gave me the feeling that Royal’s on his way to being a Cincinnati legend, including: “The Grave”, “Flamingo”, and “Holy Moses”. When your EP has 4 out of 5 tracks that (again, in my opinion) rock, it means you’ve created a phenomenal project. You have to like vintage rock and roll in order to appreciate what Royal Holland is bringing on his new EP, and if that fits your musical tastes, then make sure you check into this guy.


The Grave
Holy Moses
Polaroid Blues
These Mundane Lives - The Miews


Royal Holland’s “Flamingo” shows the importance of the build. These are songs of a master craftsman. By carefully letting his songs build up into boiling cauldrons full of all the elements that began so quietly, he is able to show the true power of the gradual progression towards those glorious finishes.

“The Grave” introduces the album with a taut bass line and stripped down percussion. Royal Holland’s voice serves as the heart and soul of the piece keeping it firmly grounded in reality at least for the first half of the song. For its final moments the distortion takes over buzzing with great urgency. On “Flamingo” the title track Royal Hollands opts for dreamy flourishes, the organ’s psychedelic haze, the efficiency of the piano, the ramshackle rhythms, these come together to create the EP’s highlight. With a messy mixture of sounds comes the casual sound of “Polaroid Blues”. Bringing things to a satisfying close is the Wilco-tinged earnestness of “These Mundane Lives”. A full sound helps the EP sail off on the right note. Emphasis on the repetitive nature of life, of the beauty to be found in the cyclical helps to give it a wonderful, oddly peaceful aspect. Taking an opposite approach to the previous tracks, he builds up and breaks down the track, ending off with a near whisper.


With “Flamingo” Royal Holland shows that slow and steady wins the race. Spending his time deliberating over every second of every track he is able to make them truly sparkle while still retaining their charming raw grit. - SKOPE Magazine

"Royal Holland, Volume One – The Maze"

Running the gamut from folk to dance Royal Holland’s “Volume One – The Maze” is a lot of fun. The combination of the radically different styles brings to mind Beck’s early experiments with folk and found sounds. Lyrically the collection ranges from the celebratory into sadder territory. With such a collection Royal Holland is able to show off his ability to create catchy rhythms and melodies.

Nowhere is this talent more readily apparent than the infectious “Devil’s Night”. An embodiment of the ‘you only live once’ spirit the song explores what it means to let loose and embrace the moment. The song is one of the collection’s true highlights as it features a memorable hook with an irresistible rhythm. On “Statues” Royal Holland slows things down considerably offering a bit of a break from the immediate “Devil’s Night” instead gradually building the song up. “The Maze” serves as the contemplative heart of the collection. Akin to a dirge the organ’s drone gives the song an overall sense of sleepiness, as if the song is half-dreamed. For “Shore” Royal Holland displays his keen dance-pop sensibilities. Hand-claps, synthesizer, drum machine, the song is quite a bit of fun before the remarkably laid back closer “Twin Rivers”.

On “Twin Rivers” Royal Holland ends the collection off on a tender ramshackle note. With a loose rhythm the song is sincere in its sentiment. Royal Holland has created a truly lovable collection with “Volume One – The Maze”. - Skope Magazine

"Royal Holland: Volume One - The Maze"

So many bands today seem to rely on a gimmick in order to get attention. It might be outrageous costumes, on-stage antics... or maybe it's the incorporation of some strange and obscure 18th century musical instrument; but it seems like almost everybody needs their 'hook' if they want to be noticed in today's media-saturated world.

Then, every once in a while, you run across an artist like Royal Holland. Holland cuts through the sonic clutter with a razor-sharp acoustic guitar and purely superlative songwriting.

Earlier this month, he released his 5-track EP entitled Volume One - The Maze at Northside Tavern. Described as 'dreamy, smooth synth-folk songs about love and loss,' Holland's music is transportive and multi-faceted. He can weave tunes that evoke feelings of calm reflection ("Twin Rivers") and palpable tension ("The Maze"); or he can write energetic melodies that make you want to stand up and clap along ("Devil's Night").

The successful execution of The Maze is partly the result of two key collaborations. The EP was recorded and produced by Grammy Award winner Brian Olive. Olive's production is exquisite - he truly has a master's touch when it come to recording and this allows for the right elements to shine at just the right moments. The result is a recording that is not only pristine but sublimely evocative. Holland also partnered with local artist Margaret Darling on one of the tracks ("Twin Rivers"). Darling and Holland's vocals are like peas and carrots (to steal a phrase from Forrest Gump) and it puts me in mind of the songwriting team of Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter.

Photography for the EP was done by Jackie Mooney and Nikki Murray who, collectively, have a great deal of experience shooting bands and musicians around town. The cover, just like Holland's music, is simultaneously in-your-face and haunting with subtle peculiarity.

I found myself particularly drawn to the second track on the EP, "Statues." Between the chord progression the heavy emotionality and Holland's sorrowful vocals, I was put in the mind-frame of early work by Rufus Wainwright.

We are like statues brought to life by the thunder,
and the scream of a mother who is down to her last dollar on this earth,
crouched over fires in which she sees that her life ain't what its worth.

If there was one aspect of Volume One - The Maze that didn't quite sit right with me, it would be the percussion in the track "Twin Rivers." While the overall vibe of the song is tranquil and slightly sentimental, the drumming feels too hyperactive for that mode.

Volume One - The Maze is one of those collections of songs that you can keep with you for a long time. There is so much depth and complexity in the songwriting that you'll find you rediscover it with each listen; yet, the music is so pleasing to the ear that it doesn't require constant, intense analysis. The EP is like a river: you can fish from it, you can float down it, or if you prefer, you can just sit and let it roll on by and enjoy its company.

Volume One - The Maze is available on digital download or CD purchase from More updates and live show information can be found at - Local Exposure - 91.7 WVXU

"Royal Holland Volume One - The Maze CD Review"

Devil’s Night is a fun track that showcases the sheer depth and breadth of Royal Holland. The music is a bouncy bit of alt-rock that ties together influences as disparate as Warren Zevon, Blur, Dick Dale, and The Smiths. The track is further bolstered through the presence of on-point claps and an infectious beat. Statues is a track that keeps listeners on the edges of their seats through a dual-barrel attack; Holland’s vocals touch upon Rufus Wainwright and Thom Yorke as the instrumentation is deliberate and focused. The two elements are able to combine to keep things fresh and interesting as listeners move into The Maze. The instrumentation on The Maze establishes an unparalleled backdrop as the percussion takes on a more martial feel. Coupled with Holland’s haunting vocals, this composition will stick with listeners long after the EP stops spinning.a2396581879_10
Twin Rivers is another impressive effort on Volume One – The Maze; there is a certain meandering nature to the track that is fostered by the interaction of the dual vocals. The track takes on a very folksy, early Bob Dylan meets seventies-era Mick Jagger feel as everything remains immaculate. The track is able to be very catchy while having a down-home, cozy feel and fans of a wide variety of genres (indie, folk, pop) will be able to find something that they appreciate with this track.
Make sure to purchase a copy of Volume One – The Maze from Royal Holland’s ReverbNation and to visit his social media accounts for the latest information (live dates, new songs) about this fun and passionate performer from Cincinnati, Ohio.
Top Tracks: Twin Rivers , Devil’s Night
Rating: 8.3/10
Royal Holland Volume One – The Maze CD Review / 2014 Self / 5 Tracks / / / /

Read more: - Neu Futur Magazine


By: Melissa Kucirek

Cincinnati’s Royal Holland has the goods. In his latest effort, the short but incredible EP Volume One – The Maze, Holland is a must listen for fans of folk rock and modern music.

“Devil’s Night” – something about this song still haunts my mind – the stirring percussion that sounds like galloping horses crossing the horizon, or the mysteriously-fantastic way Holland makes this track feel happy. If I’m correct, he’s singing about “all of wishing for a better life.” The lyrics are uplifting and this folk-rocker trims the production to just the right amount.

In “Statues” my heart ached – the brightness and joy in Holland’s delivery is palpable. This song is a triumph – but again, “Devil’s Night” lights the way for standout track. “Shore” is a close second. It’s winding lyrics and curiously subtle music bed is inspiring.

“Maze” takes the listener through evocative lyrics and yet a calming presence. Finally, “Twin Rivers” guides the listener to a unique sonic space.

As a listener – I wanted more and cannot wait to hear more from Royal Holland. His presentation and likability is strong. I’m still thinking of “Devil’s Night.” Give the guy a solid A+ for his Volume One – The Maze. - Hot Indie News


By Courtney Phenicie on Thursday August 7, 2014

Cincinnati based multi-instrumentalist / singer-songwriter Royal Holland has been recording songs over the last month with the venerable Brian Olive at the Diamonds recording studio in the Northside neighborhood of Cincinnati. Holland will be releasing these songs on his debut EP titled “Volume One - The Maze” at the Northside Tavern on September 4th.

“Recording with Brian was phenomenal” says Holland. Olive and Holland collaborated on the production of the five songs that will help define the initial Royal Holland sound. “I have self-recorded demos in which I was performing all of the parts, engineering and mixing, but I was able to take all the time I wanted, in the studio the stakes are raised a bit because you know you want that final product to be magical. Working with Brian really captured the essence of what these songs mean to me.”

The EP will contain tracks that were voted on by Holland’s fans, and as the name “Volume One” implies, there will be more to follow. Holland and Olive will collaborate again in December to record the second volume, and shortly thereafter for a third. The plan is to then release the EPs collected onto vinyl before moving on to a concept LP.

Holland will be touring the Midwest and East Coast in support of the release, but not before a stint in his hometown. He will be the Artist in Residency at The Drinkery every Wednesday night in the month of August. “I jumped at the chance to do the AIR at The Drinkery the month before the EP drops and touring,” Holland states “It will be so great to see old and new friends and share the stage with so many great musicians before I head out on the empty road.” Joining him during his residence are Chuck Cleaver of Wussy (8/6), Margaret Darling (8/13), Jasmine Poole of Wonky Tonk (8/20) and a dark electronic rock band from Pittsburgh named Action Camp (8/27). The shows are all free and there will be continuous music from 10pm – 1:30am.

Not only can you check Royal Holland out every Wednesday this month at The Drinkery, but on September 4th, he will be back in town at the Northside Tavern for the EP Release w/State Song and Umin! -

"Royal Holland to Debut at The Southgate House Revivial"

Cincinnati based musician and singer-songwriter Matt Mooney has been working on a new musical project since the demise of his most recent band, the Koala Fires last August. He’s now calling himself Royal Holland, and along with the name change comes a dramatic shift from the indie rock roots from which he was cultivated.

“The new project is more ethereal and evocative. More about the songs and lyricism than the projects I’ve curated in the past” says Mooney. The current demos available on the Royal Holland social networks attest to this progressive direction. They are self-described “Dreamy Synth-Folk.” The music is subdued and peaceful, the vocals nigh whispered and full of emotional currency.

With the new project also come new challenges. Having been in bands of four or more for the past decade, Mooney is now a solo act, and he’s been working hard at how to best convey the new material with this reduced head count. Mooney recalls “I’ve played a lot of Singer-Songwriter nights since the break-up of Koala Fires, The Southgate House Revival on a Monday is like a second home to me. Most recently I toured down to Nashville and North Carolina, trying to refine what it means to really deliver a song. There’s an intimate connection when you’re singing with just an acoustic guitar 5 feet away from a complete stranger. It can go horribly wrong, but it can also be magical. That magic is what I’m chasing”

Mooney will debut the first full production Royal Holland set on Wednesday May 28th at the Southgate House Revival during the final night of Margaret Darling’s stint as their May artist in residence. The stage show has culminated into a diverse set of songs set to backing tracks which are a mixture of live recordings Mooney has made and also sequenced synth parts. “I’m calling the new style synth-folk, because you never know if one song will have a driving dance beat with me playing an accordion overtop, or just a harmonica and an acoustic guitar with a gentle vocal.” Mooney states about the new set “There will also be an accompanying video projection, which should help anyone with a short attention span.” -

"Introductions & Returns"

Some faces that should be familiar to die-hard local music fans will be returning to the stage in the next week.

• Local singer/songwriter Matt Mooney has been hard at work on his latest project since the end of his great Indie Rock band The Koala Fires, and next Wednesday, May 28, he’ll be debuting its “full production” set at the Southgate House Revival (

Since the start of this year, Mooney has been writing and recording (and hitting the open mic circuit) using the name Royal Holland, showcasing a rootsier approach, which he describes as “Dreamy Synth-Folk.”

Mooney will debut the full-on Royal Holland set during the final night of ex-Seedy Seed Margaret Darling’s month-long Wednesday night residency at the Southgate’s Lounge. The live show features Mooney solo with backing tracks and sequenced synth parts, as well as video projections. The musicians are also expected to offer up a full-album cover of Star, the 1993 debut album from Tanya Donelly’s band, Belly. (Darling and various special guests have been tackling a different favorite album each week during her appearances.) The free show kicks off at 9 p.m.

Look for Royal Holland’s debut four-song EP sometime before year’s end. You can keep tabs on the latest RH happenings (and hear a few demos) at - CityBeat Cincinnati


By: Mike Breen

Royal Holland Issues First EP

Volume One – The Maze is the first official release from Royal Holland, the pseudonym/current project of Cincinnati singer/songwriter Matt Mooney, former frontman of late local Indie Rock band Koala Fires. The EP is available now at and will be celebrated with a free, 9 p.m. release party Thursday at Northside Tavern ( State Song and umin also perform.

The EP is a compelling introduction to Royal Holland’s unique sound, a mix of acoustic guitar, enchanting melodies and harmonies, rolling live drums and danceable drum-machine beats, electronic additives and, at its essence, spectacular songwriting. The music is self-described as “dreamy synth folk,” which is as good of a description as any, though it may conjure up images of Bob Dylan fronting Erasure, something it definitely doesn’t resemble.

Instead, the writing is more akin to Royal Holland’s avowed “heroes” like Jeff Mangum, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen, occasionally using some classic Folk music attributes but never becoming beholden to any genre’s limitations. The “synth” elements manifest themselves in tasteful electronic adornment that is subtle and never distracting from the songwriting’s impact. The EP’s five songs would all stand by themselves magnificently, but the light ornamentation gives Royal Holland’s approach an airy swirl of intrigue.

The fantastic lyrics also take Volume One – The Maze to another level. Just as the songs would stand tall delivered with just a guitar and vocals, the words are pure poetry, even separate from the music. “I’ve been sleeping all day/Trying to dream up some kind of way/That my arms could grow around you like a tree/Steady and strong/As the years tack worries on/You could lay them all on me/As my limbs creak in the breeze/The leaves would fall like silver in your hair” from EP closer “Twin Rivers” (featuring ex-Seedy Seed Margaret Darling on harmony vocals and accordion) is just one example of the EP’s exceptional lyrical content.

Following the EP release show, Royal Holland will pick up his already busy touring schedule, with plans to release two more EPs early next year (to be compiled on vinyl for a later release) and then a full-length album. ( - CityBeat


By: Shaine Freeman

Songwriting – 8.0 || Music – 8.5 || Vocals – 9.0
Location: Cincinnati, OH
Genre: Alternative Folk

Royal Holland comes roaring out of Cincinnati, Ohio with his latest EP release, Volume
One – The Maze. The sound on this project is a cross pollination of several genres that
can be best described as Alternative Folk. It is Royal Holland’s uniqueness that makes
his 5-track EP such a fun and interesting musical work of art. In a world of comparisons, I
found it hard to actually compare his music to anyone I’ve ever heard, which is a great

My favorite song on Volume One – The Maze is the project’s lead track, “Devils Night”.
The reason I like it the most is because it has a very unique sound that fuses together
elements of dub-step, folk, rock, and pop. This is a lesson on how music knows no
boundaries when the musicians creating it are uninhibited in their approach to making
great songs. Few independent artists have taken this kind of risk without failing
miserably, so it stands to reason that Royal Holland knows how to work outside the “box”,
and enjoys taking a walk on the wild side of music’s landscapes. His vocal talents equally
match the music, setting off an infectious series of melodies that complete this song’s
overall appeal.

In addition to “Devils Night”, Volume One – The Maze offers two other songs that I dug
almost as much as the lead track, inlcuding both “Statues” and “Shore”. Both of these
tracks add to the completeness of this EP, giving it that essential luster that every
independent release needs to attract and establish a loyal audience of fans. I think Royal
Holland is well on his way to becoming a folk legend if he sticks with it and continues to
release great music that he can take with him on tour. Check out his website for more

“Volume One – The Maze″ TRACK LIST
1) Devil’s Night
2) Statues
3) The Maze
4) Shore
5) Twin Rivers (Feat. Margaret Darling) - I Am Entertainment


Live Album (Fall/Winter 2016)

Volume Three - The Program EP (Jan 2016)

Volume Two - Flamingo EP (June 2015)

Volume One - The Maze EP (Sept 2014)

Royal Holland Demos (May 2014)



Royal Holland is a singer-songwriter from Newport, KY playing dreamy folk rock songs about love and loss since early 2014. He is desperate to create elaborate, visceral, truthful musical stories in every new song. He stands upon the shoulders of his heroes of the art form; Leonard Cohen, Elliot Smith and Jeff Mangum among many others, and draws inspiration from the terribly beautiful and wonderfully horrible events of daily mundane life. He wants us all to feel beautiful and free.

Growing up in a small farm town, Royal started piano lessons at age 7 during which he begged his instructor to teach him how to write a song. Since then, Royal has always taken solace in writing songs. It got him through being an outcast in his formative years, becoming a single dad at a young age and two failed marriages. He continues to write songs that will connect with those of us who can't quite seem to find their place in this life.

Royal has led two bands over the past 14 years, but has recenty branched out as a solo artist. He has been featured on, WNKU, Relix Magazine's CD sampler, the Sonicbids Blog and numerous other local and national press outlets, shared the stage with Reggie and the Full Effect, Samantha Crain, and many others, released a trilogy of E.P.s titled "The Unfolded EP Trilogy" (recorded and produced by Grammy winning producer Brian Olive), begun work on both a full length live album and a follow up concept album, cut a Nashville demo on Music Row, logged over 15,000 touring miles and won The 2014 Ohio Music Award for “Best Folk Album”

Band Members