Formerly the frontwoman of ambient Minneapolis rock outfit Aviette and originally from El Paso, Texas, Holly Muñoz struck indie-rock gold after moving to the Bay Area to work with the San Francisco Symphony. She raised $50,000 via crowdfunding to make a solo album and landed one of her musical heroes, acclaimed tunesmith John Vanderslice, as producer.
The result is “Maps and Lists,” a deep, ornate, dark vs. light collection with lots of strings layering and moody guitar work that variously recalls Throwing Muses and Sharon Van Etten. Billed simply as HOLLY, she’s returning to town to promote the record Friday at the Cedar Cultural Center with a cast of friends including Dosh and the Starfolk (8 p.m., $15-$18.)
Fresh off performing with Posies co-leader (and R.E.M. sideman) Ken Stringfellow and his new FM Collective project last weekend in Seattle, Muñoz humorously recounted how, just a few months after moving to the Bay Area, she somewhat stalkerishly sought out Vanderslice.
“I went to one of his shows and was like, "Hey, John. I'm Holly. Do you want to produce my next record?," she recounted. His initial response was a polite, “No, but I know lots of people who can help you with that, and I'm happy to give you a tour of the studio.”
A week after handing off her demos, though, Vanderslice called her and told her it was on. She booked dates in December at his Tiny Telephone studio and went all in to make the record.
“I left my job with $2,000 in savings and launched that crazy ambitious Tilt campaign,” she said. “And now it's September and I'm playing with Dosh, going on tour, and getting ready to head back into the studio with John again? Pretty wild.”
Here’s the title track of the new album, which you can stream in full via Soundcloud.