The name Desert Hollow is a definition for the geographical and artistic influences of this farm fresh, California based duo. Xander Hitzig and Nicole Olney teamed up in love and music a few years back. Their story began in a jukebox country musical featuring the songs of Paul Overstreet, in which they both had lead roles. In one scene wherein they shared a song, her performance included a choreographed lap-dance for him. This play went on for about 6 months and helped to seal the deal for both of them.
Xander comes from the West Virginia countryside, and Nicole from the California desert. Both influences are prominent on their debut EP, “Thirsty”. Her lilting vocal seems to melt into the sturdy, eclectic musical beds of each tune. His voice is as deliberate as an old-school folkie singing with no amplification. When the two come together in harmony, it’s as if they have known each other all their lives. Flaunting a Gram and Emmylou-like confidence in their delivery, one is pulled back through the decades in a time machine made of stringed instruments only to land in present day Los Angeles’ alt-country scene.
With a gypsy spirit, the two found themselves sleeping in an old GMC van before moving into a bungalow in Venice Beach. The two consider themselves “weirdos” at heart and embrace their artist lifestyle; Xander, busking with his fiddle on Abbot Kinney Blvd, and Nicole writing poetry, stories and even a short film that got into the Cannes Festival. They can frequently be seen wearing 1950s aviation gear while riding their vespa through the streets of Santa Monica.
They share a love for early traditional folk and bluegrass but are equally passionate about indie-folk and alt country music. Both members are songwriters with their own processes. For Xander, it all comes from his broad, musical palette. As a masterful multi-instrumentalist, including fiddle, banjo, guitar, mandolin, penny whistle and many more, he can adeptly build a musical bed from which to begin a tune. A hopeless purveyor of “dad jokes”, his humor shines through on songs like “Take Me Back To Nowhere”. Nicole, wielding her own poetic power, sees the world through an artist’s eye in “Look At Those Birds”. The creation of the single and video for “Thirsty” was right in line with the band’s ethos: Nicole had crafted the beginnings of the song and was chipping away like a sculptor when Xander offered the 5 string banjo part that helped to make it complete. “It’s a song about being down and out, but realizing that’s part of the beauty of life”, Nicole explains. In true Desert Hollow fashion, the video was filmed while road tripping via RV from West Virginia to California at a random spot in Wyoming - by accident. After missing their campground reservation one day due to a doctor visit for poison ivy, the pair drove down a nearby road and found some greenbelt land next to a river and mountains and decided to camp off grid for a few days. It looked like a great place to stay a while and make a music video.
The “easy on the eyes” factor of this sunlit team is just a bonus. The statuesque, golden haired, 20 something Nicole, is well suited for a life on camera while Xander’s flare for the retro, traveling snake oil salesman style is cabaret at it’s finest. Beauty, however, is more an association with health and inner loveliness than anything physical to these very approachable, kind folks. Blessed with talent, drive and intrinsic sunshine, Desert Hollow emits rays of talent by which one is happily blinded.
“Thirsty” will be released in spring 2021 and made available on all digital platforms by Mule Kick Records - a label that sprouted as a necessity to produce the upcoming documentary on The Palomino Club of North Hollywood, which Xander and Nicole have each had some participation in. Artists/bands NOCONA, Alice Wallace and Rosie Flores as well as the soundtrack for said documentary are all on the roster for 2021. Keeping a family-like tradition, Xander has played fiddle or guitar with all the artists on the roster, either live or recorded. The talented musicians on “Thirsty” EP include “Hutch” Hutchinson (Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan) bass guitar, Matt Lucich - drums, Adrienne Isom (NOCONA and Mule Kick Records) upright bass.
Mule Kick Records’ KP Hawthorn and Steve Berns produced “Thirsty” at Fitting Room Studio in West Hills, CA.