Originated in late ’70s London, U.K. Lovers Rock is a style that always seems to come back around. An intimate, and subdued strain of reggae with roots in the romantic side of rocksteady, the sound has been periodically revived in both Jamaica and the UK, by exponents such as UB40, Maxi Priest, Beres Hammond and Bitty McLean. (Sade, Lily Allen and Bruno Mars have also dabbled in it, for a song or two).
One of the most encouraging recent developments for Lovers Rock has been the arrival of Hollie Cook. Hollie’s two albums for the Mr. Bongo label channel the classic sound with slight nods to dub and punk (her parents are Paul and Jenni Cook, founding members of the Sex Pistols and the Culture Club, respectively, and she was briefly a member of The Slits).
“When I was in The Slits, I used to listen to a lot of Lovers Rock with [late Slits frontwoman] Ari Up, and we loved all the backing vocals and harmonies—that was another part of it that was really fun,” Hollie recalls. “It felt the most natural way for me to express myself.”
For Hollie, Lovers Rock style is about more than just music, and her own fashion choices suggest a connection with the genre’s original, mostly female proponents from 1970s London.
When she visited New York a few months back for the start of her first US tour, we took her shopping at Manhattan vintage shop Maison Jadis. She came back with some classic scores for her wardrobe, and we made this video spotlighting Hollie’s love for Lovers Rock, and her eclectic personal style.
“I have to be super comfortable all of the time, otherwise I can’t be myself,” Hollie says of her fashion MO. “That’s an important thing—I am just doing me.”
Watch “Lovers Rock Style with Hollie Cook” below, and follow Hollie here.