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Singer Hollie Cook on new album 'Happy Hour'

MILES PARKS, HOST:

And finally today, Hollie Cook is someone you might call British music royalty. Her father Paul Cook was the drummer for the famed punk rock band the Sex Pistols, and her mom Jenny sang backup vocals for the '80s pop group Culture Club. Now Cook is continuing her family's musical legacy, but with a sound that's all her own.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAPPY HOUR")

HOLLIE COOK: (Singing) All my tears break down on me till happy hour, till happy hour. My heart will beat so silently till happy hour.

PARKS: That's the title track off her new album, "Happy Hour," which is a fun, unique blend of reggae-inspired dance songs. And Hollie Cook joins us now to tell us more about this album. Hey, Hollie.

COOK: Hey.

PARKS: Thank you so much for being here. Your album has been on repeat for me the last couple of weeks. And we said at the top you come from this kind of famed musical family in the U.K. Your dad was in the Sex Pistols. Your mom was a backup singer for Culture Club. I understand Boy George is your godfather. At what point did you kind of realize that, you know, music was going to be your life, too?

COOK: Oh, good question. I think when I first started going to see live music, which I was lucky enough to have been able to do from a young age, because my dad was playing out. You know, when I was 9, he was playing with a Scottish singer called Edwyn Collins, who had some huge hits in the '90s and was in the band Orange Juice in the '80s. So that was, like, my first kind of real taste for experiencing - like, attending live shows. And I was really, really enamored by the experience and was very, very into music and singing at that point. And, yeah, I think that from there, the love of attending live shows developed into wanting to do that myself over the years.

PARKS: And let's play a little bit more of your record. I want to start with one of my favorite tracks, which is called "Moving On."

COOK: Oh, nice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVING ON")

COOK: (Singing) Baby, I'm moving on. I've got to be strong. You've been messing around with my mind. I'm leaving you behind.

PARKS: So this record really feels like a master class in lovers rock, which is this subgenre of reggae that, to be honest, a lot of our audience might not be familiar with. Could I just have you kind of explain, I guess, what lovers rock is?

COOK: It is more the kind of - literally the love element lyrically in - within the reggae genre. It's reggae love songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVING ON")

COOK: (Singing) Tears in my eyes. Always fearing goodbyes. They only break my heart.

It's a genre that I felt personally connected to when I first heard it, I guess because it seemed, from when I was discovering, you know, the subgenres within reggae, like, very female-led. It was a sound that the U.K. itself really latched on to. So yeah, it was just a side of reggae that really touched my heart, to be honest.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVING ON")

COOK: (Singing) You've been messing around with my mind. I'm leaving you behind.

PARKS: Let's listen to another song, another one that I've been listening to a bunch, called "Unkind Love." Let's have a listen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "UNKIND LOVE")

COOK: (Singing) 'Cause love is a losing game. My heart will never be the same. Unkind love, unkind love. And, oh, with my mind you played till I'm screaming out your name. Unkind love, unkind love.

PARKS: So am I right thinking that that song has a shoutout to Amy Winehouse's song "Love Is A Losing Game"?

COOK: Loosely, yes. I mean, of course, Amy Winehouse is, like, one of my most loved musical artists ever, to be honest with you. So to kind of pay homage to any part of her music seems like a really nice thing to do. And the sentiment of that line works so well within the subject matter of "Unkind Love," which was the first song that I wrote for what I didn't know then would be an album. And it was the first song that I wrote with Ben Mckone and Luke Allwood, who produced the album, who are members of the General Roots band who have been my live backing band for about the last eight years. And I really wanted to make this record with them. And so, yeah, that was a cold, dark November evening. We thought that we'd try our hand at collaborating together and see what happened when we wrote, and that was our first song. So it was a strong start.

PARKS: And how has touring been? I know you're joining us for this interview from one of your touring vans. How's touring been so far?

COOK: So far it's been great. It's been like - it's the summer season, so it's all festivals at this point. It feels like summer. The weather's great. Everyone's so happy to be back out playing live and attending live music events. So on that side of things, it's really joyous. I have found, like, a whole new love and appreciation for playing live now.

PARKS: And I feel - I definitely feel like - reggae to me sounds like summer music. I mean, that is just, like, such a - I have to imagine that people at the festival scene are just like - I guess, what has the reaction been from the people who are listening to your music? It feels like music that's kind of made for this time of year.

COOK: Yeah, it is. I feel like I was born to perform at this time of year as well. Like, I feel very much in my natural habitat, like, in the sunshine. I'm very much solar-powered. I think that my music spreads good energy and positivity, and people in the sunshine seem to receive it very well.

PARKS: Yeah, that's part of why, yeah, I was so drawn to it. I think I've been - I have a vacation on the beach in a week, and I feel like I've just been listening to it in preparation, and I've somehow managed to transport myself early to the beach and to laying in the sun.

I always like to give our musicians that we have on the show kind of the last say on what song kind of plays you out. Is there a song on the record that you'd like to play here at the end?

COOK: Yes, I think probably "Move My Way."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVE MY WAY")

COOK: (Singing) My sound is calling to the other side of town.

It's, I'd say, the biggest departure from what people may know my, like, sound to be. And I really wanted to push those boundaries and, yeah, just more than anything, write a song about having fun and partying with my friends, you know? And that was definitely the mood that I have been trying to obtain for the last little while. So that would be my one.

PARKS: Yeah, definitely a summer state of mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVE MY WAY")

COOK: (Singing) 'Cause we ain't leaving till the next day. And we don't need sleep. We're going to stay up late.

PARKS: That was Hollie Cook. Her new album, "Happy Hour," is available now. Hollie, thank you so much for joining us.

COOK: Such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MOVE MY WAY")

COOK: I have waited so long to dance to this song. And you never let me down. The call of the beat in the summer heat, find my sweetest peach in town. Get lost until you're found. Your feet won't touch the ground. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.