Theres nothing like a flashback to the seventies to feel infused with a sense of community and connection. An era saturated in social movements, self -expression and the voices of Fleetwood Mac and Karen Carpenter. It’s the work of Harriet, the London based artist, who is reigniting this sentimentality. Her music is a sonic kaleidoscope, dreamy yet invigorating. With her latest release “Story of Your Life” sauntering between the tenderness of Coldplay and the bounciness of Abba.
Harriet’s upcoming album The Outcome is set for release on May 12th, and it is a body of work that centres around optimism. Music that goes beyond entertainment and lighthearted sound. Her work has a function and ultimately, desire. Desire to bond her audience, to restore joy by changing their emotional state. The Outcome serves as a collection of music formed from the tension of past years; tracks that were recorded in Sweden, with handpicked writing collaborators, whose credits span from Britney Spears and Sophie Ellis-Bexter to Alicia Keys. Harriet’s momentum is rooted in her identity, with music that is effervescent of her character; bright, spirited and reflective.
We caught up with Harriet to take in her immersive creative process, sonic inspiration and how this is so often weaved into all that she does.
Listen to “Story of Your Life”…
Read the full interview below…
Who and what influences you?
I am a bit of an old soul. I love everything to do with the 1970s… the music (and the fashion!) Fleetwood Mac, The Eagles, ABBA; I wish I’d been around at that time. I love hearing new artists channeling those soundscapes into contemporary music. Kacey Musgraves and Harry Styles do this so well, and I’ve just discovered Benny Sings, who is fantastic. I’m constantly inspired by those around me and always making notes of lyrics and melody ideas to put into songs – anything from a story a friend has told me, to the name of a bar! I think songwriters must see lyrics everywhere. I’d definitely say that whatever I’m listening to influences the direction a new song/track might go in for me at that time. I made my album mainly in Sweden and I think just being in Stockholm really unlocked something in me. I felt something was in the air out there. On every street corner is a recording studio where amazing songs are being written, with producers spending endless hours on a perfect chord change. The creative people I’ve met there are inspirational to me.
How did you first discover your love for music?
My Dad had a great record collection. One of those big purpose-built CD cupboards, and a ton of vinyl. I’d pick out the albums with the artwork I liked and then make my own mixtapes of my favourites using a double cassette deck he gave me; Carole King, George Michael, Ella Fitzgerald, The Beatles, Eva Cassidy. And then Britney arrived and -like every other kid- I wanted to be her. So there was quite an eclectic mix of music spinning around! Every home video there is of me, I am singing away in the background (probably drove my parents mad). I remember being on long car journeys listening to the mixtapes I’d made on my walkman and singing along into the window as the reflection made it sound like a microphone. Music has always been in my life.
What made you want to pursue a career in the industry?
When I was 13, I did lots of am-dram stuff at my local theatre, and there was this event to celebrate 20 years of the theatre company, with one song performed from each production. I sang ‘He’s a Tramp’ by Peggy Lee; from Lady and the Tramp. I was so nervous as I’d never performed solo before. The act before me was from Chicago or Cabaret, something raunchy and loud. Everybody was drunk, there was so much noise in the auditorium and when I walked onto stage, nobody saw me. I was terrified! The piano intro kept going round and round and round, and I’m standing there in this little lace dress my mum bought from a charity shop, with my hair in pigtails. Anyway, I finally started. Opened my mouth, started singing, and the whole room went silent. You could hear a pin drop. It was such a bizarre experience. But I realised in that moment that I had moved those people, changed their state, made them feel something. And that’s when I realised that this is what I wanted to do with my life. Nothing beats that feeling of connecting with people through music in this way. It’s so special.
How would you define your sound?
I’d say…emotional pop with a retro understanding. A song’s lyric has to mean something to me. So I’m always looking for that deeper connection when I’m writing. So this, combined with uplifting sounds in the melodies and production, which subtly nod to all the music I love from those retro eras is where I sit sound-wise.
Music is more condensed than ever, what is it about you that stands out?
It can be challenging to stay authentic in the sea of everything being released and I think there is a lot of pressure for artists to follow trends in order to be heard. All the music I love is timeless, so I hope I’ve been able to achieve this with my own songs, whilst still keeping it fresh!
How have your experiences shaped the way you create?
When I was starting out, I used to write very long, very sad songs. Writing was a way of diarising how I was feeling and was often a longwinded process, which I would always do alone. I think I struggled to communicate difficult experiences. I am one to bottle up and hide away from them. But when I started co-writing with others, it changed everything for me. I find the process so much more enjoyable when there is someone to bounce ideas around with. It brings a different sense of perspective and often, humour, which is hard to see when you’re working alone. Over time, I’ve also grown more confident about what I like and dislike and feel more comfortable expressing this.
You moved to London to pursue your dream, how did you find the strength and bravery to do that?
I grew up in a small town in Hertfordshire. I loved it there, but was keen to get out as soon as I could. I knew I had to be in London to create opportunities for myself in music. I’d been a ‘singer’ for a long time; was in a jazz band, performed constantly. But I was keen to make that transition into ‘artist’ and discover what it was that I wanted to say. I was desperate to live in the west end, but was only working part time in retail, so it was an unrealistic dream. But I did it! I spent all my money on rent, my local was Cafe Boheme in Soho and I had the time of my life. The people I met at this time, both in and out of music, have shaped the journey of me getting to where I am now. Sometimes you just have to take a risk and go for it. What’s the worst that could happen!
“Story of Your Life” is gorgeous! Talk us through the meaning of the track?
Thank you! I wrote it as a letter to my younger self, really. I’m an over-thinker, a people pleaser, a perfectionist and this can often get the better of me. I’m sure others can relate. The song is about standing tall, playing the lead role in your life and embracing everything that goes with that; the ups…and the downs. I want people to feel encouraged when they hear it; to know that we are so much more capable than we feel sometimes and that any challenges we face are what build us into our amazing selves!
What can listeners expect from your upcoming album The Outcome?
I learnt a lot about myself making this album. So I’d like for people to learn something new about themselves too, through listening to it. There were some tears shed during the writing process that were both happy and sad, so it’s a colourful record. It’s been a tough few years for everyone. I like to think of The Outcome as a reassuring ‘hug’ in the form of an album; it’s both vulnerable and empowering.
What was the creative process of the album?
I made the record in Stockholm, Sweden and travelled out there several times to work on the writing and recording process. I found it so beneficial to remove myself from my life in London to do this as it helped me to focus on the creative process. I’ve been fortunate to work with some incredible talent in the way of songwriters and producers and the variety meant I was able to explore lots of different ideas and sounds across the record.
What are your main career goals?
To be able to continue making music that I love and to connect with people through it. The relationship between artists and their audiences is a funny thing. We have this connection, even though we have never met – It’s awesome. I hope one day I’m able to tour all over the world, connecting all the dots, globally. But who knows!
Where do you want to take your artistry?
I’ve already started working on my next album. And I’ve gone to new places with it. I guess that’s what art is all about. Trying new things, exploring new parts of yourself. That’s what essentially lies behind the title track of The Outcome – just go for it and don’t hold yourself back. I can’t wait to see what happens next…