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INTERVIEW: Harp Samuels

Hi Harp, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

Hi! I just got back to Melbourne yesterday.  I was in California, New York, and Hawaii.  A little jet-lagged, but good!

Can you talk to us more about your latest single “Away”?

‘Away’ is my first foray into the electronic genre.  I love bands like M83, Daft Punk, and College, and have always wanted to something with a similar vibe.  I brought myself a synth, a vocoder, started learning more about production, and threw around 50 hours into the track!  It can be pretty precise working with electronic music, because the timing of everything has to be perfect, and I’m used to folk, but it was a lot of fun.

Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

My Dad passed away last year.  Losing a loved one really puts you in a weird space.  The whole grief experience left me feeling very ‘spaced out’ and strange.  I wanted to write a song about loss and wanting to be with something you’ve lost that also captured the ethereal and strange mood that goes along with it.

Any plans to release a video for the single?

I have a music video for the title track ‘Breathe’ coming out soon, but most likely not for this one.  I get pretty involved in the music video side of things as well, and I haven’t had a strong vision for a visual to go along with this particular track.  I kinda see this one as more of a listening experience.

The single comes off your new album Breathe – what’s the story behind the title?

The entire album has similar themes ideas.  It’s all about tension, and also our relationship with the eternal.  I thought a lot about the title, and wrote down a whole bunch of ideas.  The word ‘Breathe’ to me really stood out.  It reminds me to to stop and ‘just breathe.’  Breath is the very thing that keeps us alive, and I also feel like it has a very infinite quality about it.  Whenever things get crazy people will tell you to breathe, simply breathe, and so it’s also inspired by the idea of staying afloat when you’re overwhelmed.

How was the recording and writing process?

My debut album ‘Wanting’ came out last year.  I had absolutely no plans to do another one so soon, but I started writing and recording because I had to put my feelings somewhere.  This whole project is completely driven by emotion and feeling.  It was different for me to get into a different style of producing and recording.  I put down my guitars for the first time to get out of the comfort zone.  A lot of the writing and recording was intuitive and done on the spot, but other tracks such as ‘Away’ took a little longer to get all the lyrics together!  Mixing the project at Sing Sing studios in Melbourne was an amazing experience.  We used an old SSL desk and run the tracks through all kinds of stuff to give it that vintage quality.

What role does Melbourne play in your writing?

Melbourne is home.  It’s one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever been to.  I go to the same cafe everyday for coffee, and usually sit by the same river to think.  I love to create in Australia, then take off to share it with the rest of the world.  It’s the familiarity, and the nostalgia of being in the place where you were born that really feels amazing.  I love the landscape of Melbourne.  I regularly drive through the countryside and listen to music.  A lot of my songs and inspiration have come from those times.

How has Sigur Ros has influence your music?

Sigur Ros has impacted me so much!  I remember a few years ago, I was flying to America, and I had their album ‘Valtari’ on repeat the whole time.  They have a confidence in simplicity that I’ve never seen before.  I feel like they make music because they love it, and it comes across.  There’s no desperation or sense of consumerism in what they do.  They’ll take a simple riff, continue it for 8 minutes, and it still feels amazing.  They’ve tapped into creating from a place of rest.  I don’t feel like I’m completely at the same place as them, but I’m on my way!

What aspect of tragedy and loss did you get to explore on this record?

The whole record was inspired by loss.  So much tension comes with loss.  ‘Distortion’ was an attempt to put the experience of tension into a physical sound.  ‘Genesis’ is about the collision of beauty and loss that are happening all at the same time.  ‘Breathe’ is an anthem, and something to sing when you’re overwhelmed and need a home.  The record is in alphabetical order, which symbolises the desire for order and stability within chaos.

Any plans to hit the road?

Absolutely!  Currently trying to decide between Europe and America.  Hopefully something like mid-next year if everything works out.

What else is happening next in Harp Samuels’ world?

I’ve been working on a short film with the same theme as the record.  I’ll be releasing that soon, then recording some new material while I’m in Melbourne with my equipment.  I make films and paint a little too, so there’ll be some side projects happening all the while. Next year is going to be a big one, but while I’m putting it all together, it’ll have to be a surprise!

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About RJ Frometa

Head Honcho, Editor in Chief and writer here on VENTS. I don't like walking on the beach, but I love playing the guitar and geeking out about music. I am also a movie maniac and 6 hours sleeper.

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