music is what feelings sound like

QUEENBEETCH.COM

Category: INTERVIEWS

Harp Samuels: Having full freedom over the artistic integrity is so liberating | Interview

Couple of months ago I had a pleasure of getting in touch with one of my favourite emerging musicians from Australia. His name is Harp Samuels and he is one of the most inspiring artists that I know; he is also a photographer and a true Renaissance man.

Right now he’s preparing to release another EP, which I already cannot wait for, and he was kind enough to talk to me about his inspirations, stories behind songs from Getting There EP, and his life as an independent artist, which could influence a lot of DIY artists out there, who struggle with releasing music on their own.

Read my interview with Harp Samuels, visit his official site, and support him on Facebook.



Your EP came out last year. What has changed since then in your life?

Wow… So much! My style musically and artistically + my life and outlook on life. Since then I’ve been recording and growing a lot, and having some really exciting opportunities musically and artistically, as well as selling my place to spread my wings and travel a bit.

Bz1ShfHCUAArSk4.jpg-largeWhat story does your EP tell us?

The EP is called ‘Getting There’ and it’s really the idea of being on the journey of where you’d hope to be emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I’m a big believer in looking at like from the end and working backwards, i.e. imaging you’re on your death-bed, then figuring what it is you regretted not doing, then doing that! Each song has ‘getting there’ in the lyrics somewhere, but also their own title. It’s really also about trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel and finding hope in any circumstance.

Which song from ‘Getting There’ was the hardest to write and record?

I think ‘Lonely’ was a harder one for me, because it’s a vulnerable thing to do to admit loneliness or weakness (maybe it’s a guy thing?) and I decided to just go with it and write from my heart without holding any information about my feelings or life. It’s definitely redemptive once you’ve released something like that, because now I feel comfortable with strangers, or people at a gig hearing intimate details of my life.

Do you remember the day when you thought for the first time “actually, my music is valuable and I am ready to show it to people?” Did you have that groundbreaking moment or was it a natural thing to do for you, to perform and express yourself in that way?

I’ve had a few of those moments. I think when you play a new track to a friend in your room, to see what they think, and they really connect with it or get something out of it, you realise that you want it to reach a wider audience, and connect with anyone who’s in the same place that I was when I write the track.

Are you completely a DIY artist?

At the moment I am. I’ve been offered a publishing contract for my track “Taken by Beauty” and I have also been scouted over “Ghost-town”, so things could change pretty quickly! I’m definitely open to taking the right record deal or working with the right management. I’ve worked for myself of a while now, so it’s also something you get used to.

What do you love the most about being a DIY artist?

I love that you have full freedom over the production, lyrics, and artistic integrity. If you want to write and record a 7 minute piece that has no structure (which I am, by the way), you can! The freedom is so liberating. I think that it shows with artists that get full control over their product, that it has so much of them in there!

I know that, other than making excellent music, you’re also a photographer. Do you think those two passions of yours are strongly connected in some way? Does it help to be artistically versatile?

Yes, I am. I’ve exhibited work all around Australia, won awards, and also shot a few music videos. I would absolutely say that there’s a connection there. Even being able to shoot your own album cover or paint a poster can really tie everything together. At some point, I’d like shows to combine imagery, music, and film to be a completely immersive experience!

How does your creative process look like? Are you more of a “leave me alone and let me create art from my head” kind of person or do you find yourself an artist mostly inspired by your surroundings?

I do spend a lot of time alone and a lot of time with people. I work on pieces by myself, but draw a lot of inspiration from the stories people tell and the things that are happening in my life or the lives of my friends. Obviously relationships are a huge thing to draw from… ‘Taken by Beauty‘ was inspired by a gorgeous dancer I was dating, ‘Ghost-town‘ was inspired by addiction + depression, ‘Change‘ was inspired by the proactive life choices I’ve been making in the last year, etc… I draw from a lot of stuff!

You’re fro Australia. It’s a country full of surprises, especially for someone from Europe or from the US – but how do you use your background and origin in your art? Do you feel artistically bounded with the place that you come from?

I’m a dual citizen of Australia and New Zealand, my parents are Kiwis… It’s interesting that belonging to two countries has kinda made me feel like I don’t belong in any particular country, and I really feel like I could settle anywhere in the world. I don’t have a strong connection with any culture in particular, I like to draw from the best parts of different cultures. I’ve been to Africa, India, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Europe, Canada, America, New Zealand (like a billion times) and a few more, so I have found it such a rich experience to learn and try to assimilate the best of what each place has to offer.

If you could choose one artist that inspires you, who represents a completely different musical style, who would it be?

I’m a huge fan of Efterklang, from Denmark. They do a crazy combination of music, that’s quite different to what I do, but very very awesome.
I also think David Byrne is another one, his live performance style, and artistry is so different to mine and so interesting to me!

Any Australian music, other than popular acts like Chet Faker or Josef Salvat, that you would recommend to me and my readers?

I’m excited about what Matt Corby’s doing. I think also Little May, Vance Joy, and The Jezabels are really killing it. So many great artists here!

Lastly, what are your plans for the rest of this year? Are you planning on releasing new music soon? Maybe going on a little tour?

I am doing a new EP at the moment. It’s much fuller than the last one, and very different thematically. It’s really an exploration of love, but not in a corny or typical way.. It kinda goes into concepts like ‘needy love,‘ ‘lost love,‘ ‘fear of falling in love‘ etc, so it’s an interesting one to write and record!

I’m off overseas mid-year, and I’ll be playing a few gigs here and there. I’m hoping to arrange more a world tour next year (fingers crossed), so that’ll be interesting!

Advertisements

Cold, cold heart: ‘Megan’ raises the bar for our music | Interview

DSCF4669Cold, cold heart’s music journey began not long ago with beautiful, ethereal tracks Stand/Still and Wolf eyes, you’re staring”. Today, the London/Chichester trio releases their brand new track, ’Megan, and on this occasion I talked to them about their lives, visions, and plans for the future.


At the beginning I would like to get to know some basic facts about you. How did you guys meet? When and because of what the idea to create a band was born?

Robert: I’ve known Chris for about 12 years. When he sent me his cover of my song “Washington Parks” (which was for a project where I started raising money and awareness for Multiple Sclerosis, which also included covers by Ed Harcourt, Ash, Marissa Nadler, etc.) it quickly became evident that we should make the effort to write music together.

Chris: Bob and I actually played together in a band with a couple of friends about 10 or 11 years ago and when we then started jamming together again a couple of years ago, the Cold, cold heart sound started coming together really quickly and naturally.

Adrian: I met Chris via a charity around 2009, we discussed music and agreed to jam. After playing guitar together Chris introduced me to Bob, and we’ve been making music ever since.

Did you decide that instrumental music would better express yourself as artists or was it a natural thing to do?

Adrian: I tend to not pay too much attention to lyrics in songs, which is awful I know. I’m more interested in the sound of a voice rather than lyrical content. I have written songs with lyrics, we just tend to make instrumental music at the moment. We can all sing, eventually our audience may get to hear us all.

Chris: When Adrian says we can all sing, he certainly doesn’t mean we’re all the next Jeff Buckley. Far from it.

Robert: 50% of the music I listen to is instrumental (Explosions, Mogwai, Dirty Three, etc.) I like walking around with headphones on with the music soundtracking everything I see. It seems a natural conclusion that we have ended up writing instrumental music.

Chris: …for the time being. I think ultimately we’d all like to introduce vocals at some point, when we’re confident that it’s right for the song and one of us can sing the vocal well.

Zrzut ekranu 2015-01-19 o 11.41.55What else except being in such interesting band do you guys do? Are you all professional musicians?

Robert: By day I work as an IT director, by night I write music in between times with my family.

Adrian: I work in IT project management. When not working I paint, write short stories, volunteer with some charities and make music.

Chris: I worked as a corporate lawyer in the City for 8 years but have just quit to take some time to figure out what I want to do in life. My time out of work happens to coincide nicely with the recording of our first album.

Would you say that the three of you are really similar when it comes to your musical vision? Or are those your character differences that make the experience so unique?

Chris: Since day one of Cold, cold heart, Bob and I have been totally in tune with each other. There’s a lot of overlap in our music tastes and it’s always just worked. Adrian has been a perfect foil to that. He comes up with great parts that Bob and I wouldn’t.

Robert: We all have completely different guitar playing styles but as Chris mentioned our musical influences form a comfortable foundation. Adrian is a unique spark who ultimately brings our sound and vision together.

Adrian: When I joined the band I didn’t know any of the bands that Chris and Bob listen to. I asked for a list of bands to get started on and I wandered around my flat in spare moments getting up to speed with Low, Sparklehorse and Mogwai. Prior to Cch I listened to a wide range of music, particularly metal, prog and ambient music. I put some prog on while writing this. Not sure if they’re impressed…

It is not that typical thing for an instrumental project, but would you say that there’s a leader/frontman in a band? Someone who puts things together when everything just falls apart?

Adrian: Depending on who came up with the original song idea the leader tends to change. Bob and Chris tend to do most of the arranging. I suppose generally Bob is the boss.

Robert: None of us is precious about the parts we have written. We are completely democratic when it comes to what stays and what goes. Thus far we have always been an equal third of each and everything we do.

Chris: It’s me. Totally.

 

How does your creative process look like? Do you always agree on how your vision should be expressed or it comes out while recording and producing a track?

Adrian: Chris wrote the riff for “Wolf eyes”, but we ended up recording a very different sounding song, so I think we tend to turn up for a weekend with a bit of clay and we’re happy to all have a go on the wheel.

Chris: As Bob said earlier, it’s very democratic. There haven’t been any big disagreements (to date) on which parts work and which don’t on any particular song. We tend to record more parts than we end up using and then strip the song back to a place where we’re all happy with it.

Robert: We normally meet up for a weekend with a single idea, a chord progression or a story. The rest evolves around us playing in a room together. We very rarely meet up with a complete song, or if we do it soon changes.

 

You are an emerging, relatively new band. However, your music sounds really complete, mature, as if you were not experimenting, but like you already knew how exactly Cold, cold heart’s music should sound and feel like. Do you think that you already achieved your desired sound?

CZrzut ekranu 2015-01-19 o 11.38.54hris: I don’t think we’re consciously aiming for any particular sound. The Cch “sound” is pretty much just what comes out when we sit down and play together. Adrian wants us to rock out a bit more than we do, though, I think. The lack of percussion comes partly from our shared love of ambient artists like Stars of the Lid and partly from the fact that none of us plays drums with any competence.

Adrian: I don’t think we know where we’re going. Or how we’re going to get there. As Chris said, I do love metal – it inspired me to learn to play the guitar. I always want to counterpoint the beauty with grime.

Robert: I like the idea of recording an ambient percussion-less album but then reworking the songs for the live experience with drums. Maybe from that point our sound will further evolve naturally. I think we have the basics of our desired sound but I fully expect that to change in time.

What the experience of being in a band and working together has given you? Have you noticed any changes?

Robert: Being in a band has changed many things for me. I have Multiple Sclerosis and before Chris and I started working together I never thought I would pick up the guitar again.

Adrian: When I first jammed with the band I was the guy who did the finger-tapping 6-string bass guitar solo thing. Now I feel like an equal member of an exciting creative unit, which has increased my confidence for making music.

Chris: It’s such a great creative outlet. I play lead guitar in another – covers – band, which gives me my gigging fix every month or two, but writing and recording music with Adrian and Bob is satisfying in a completely different way. Also, before Cch I hadn’t played piano for umpteen years, so it’s great to be exploring instruments other than the guitar again.

Which of the already released songs you guys think was the biggest success?

Robert: I am particularly pleased with “Megan”. It was our first attempt writing, recording and arranging strings in our tiny bedroom studio. It has been a great experience hearing it on various radio stations.

Chris: It’s a really exciting time for us at the moment, as every song we release gets a little more exposure and success than the last one. “Wolf eyes, you’re staring” got a great reception and we started getting some radio play. We’re really hoping that people like “Megan” even more.

Adrian: I don’t know about success…but there was a moment when we were jamming “Stand/still” where everything just came together. It happened again for a new song this weekend. That’s the success I’m interested in.

Any new year’s resolutions for the band? What are your plans or expectations for this year?

Robert: Finish album, prepare live show and there is a small hope, possibly more a dream, that we will get to work on a film score.

Adrian: Continue producing music we enjoy, and maybe perform live. I think we might need some help making an interesting live performance so we’ll have to reach out for help on that one.

Chris: All of the above, and also to work with some really talented visual media artists with whom we spoke last year about various collaborations.

Your new song ‘Megan’ comes out on Monday. What is one special thing that every one of you would like to say about it that could compliment the song and help your listeners to understand the vision behind it?

Adrian: “Megan” raises the bar for our music.

Robert: “Megan” was written about and inspired by a girl called Megan. I would actually say this is our first love song. Although different for everyone, when I listen to it I believe we have captured the many emotions that come with being in love pretty well.

Chris: Strings were always a part of the Cold, cold heart music that we could hear in our heads. Now that we’ve started incorporating them with “Megan”, we’re that bit closer to fulfilling our musical vision for our first album.


Support the band: Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud