Harriet interview: “Music should be made to live forever, not to fulfil a trend that might never return…”

Since I last interviewed UK singer-songwriter Harriet, she’s been a busy lady releasing a stream of EPs, gaining support from the likes of Graham Norton, Paul O’Grady and Rumer and recording her self-titled debut album Harriet which was released on Friday. She performed her latest single Broken For You to over 100 million viewers on BBC World News this weekend, so it’s fair to say the twenty-something year old songstress has come a long way since the time we last touched base in August 2014 but one thing’s for sure – Harriet remains an unexpected champion for a bygone era of music and as unassuming and modest as ever.

So your debut album – how would you describe it in a sentence?

The best reflection of all the things I am right now as an artist.

After two years recording in the studio, how does it feel to finally have your music out there?

Fantastic. It’s been a long and rewarding process. And was well worth taking our time over deciding on the right songs and arrangements. I wanted everything to be perfect and represent me in the best possible way.

Some people, especially younger audiences, will automatically assume the ‘easy-listening’ genre make this album one that’s more suited to mum and dad. What would you say to them?

I think that because I’m in my twenties and write my own songs, this will hopefully provide a something that a younger audience can connect to. I write from my own experiences, with inspirations taken from other eras of music, reflected in the arrangements and Steve Anderson’s production. I hope this is a combination and provides something for every pair of ears!

I think also that the great thing about your style and musical arrangements is that the songs don’t seemingly age, as time goes on. You’ve included several songs on the album that you first released two years ago but they don’t stick out like a sore thumb.

Thank you. That’s a real compliment! I grew up listening to music from the 60s and 70s that is still loved and appreciated today, so for me, this is what it’s all about. Music should be made to live forever, not to fulfil a trend, that might never return. I think the key is in the song itself. Good songwriting stands the test of time. I hope my songs manage to do this.

Many new singers bypass releasing their new albums on CD. Was it important to have it out there in a physical format to cater to the Radio 2 audience who have embraced you?

Absolutely. I have an audience who still love a physical ‘record’ they can hold in their hands. Also, it feels as though we are going full circle with this – people are really getting back into buying CDs and particularly Vinyl, especially the younger fans. It’s an exciting time for music in this way.

It’s become a lot tougher for new artists to make inroads in the Top 40 in recent years since the inclusion of streaming but consumers moving to playlists and away from albums seems to have opened the doors for a lot of lesser known artists gaining a foothold in the album chart. As a newcomer releasing her debut album, what are your expectations?

Well the biggest challenge for me is reaching as many people as possible with my album, to give it the best chance of achieving any chart success. With major artists focussing on singles as you’ve described, there are more opportunities for lesser known artists. However, with releasing music now being so accessible, it does make it a little overwhelming – there is SO much music out there!

We have been guilty for doing this in the past and, while it’s a fantastic compliment, do you wish people would move on from the Karen Carpenter comparisons or has it been a blessing when it comes to getting people to listen to you?

Not at all. Being compared to Karen is not something I have any issues with. Who would I be to turn away fans who love my music, simply for the reason that I remind them of another artist they adore. Hopefully the fact that I write my own songs gives me an individuality, which provides people with more to talk about, and helps them to understand who I am as an artist – my voice is as much mine as Karen’s is hers.

Steve Anderson has been a driving force behind this album and you as an artist. What’s it like having someone who has written and produced for pop stars such as Kylie Minogue, Britney Spears and Delta Goodrem as a mentor?

Steve is awesome, and has an immense bank of experience, across genres – I have definitely benefited from his incorporating all this knowledge in our music. Hopefully I speak for both of us in saying that we love working together! He appreciates what I want to achieve, but also has no problem with challenging me and speaking up if he doesn’t agree with something; and this works both ways! The most important thing is that we both see eye-to-eye when it comes to my ‘sound’ as an artist. He knows how to bring the best out of me and how to colour my vocals with the right arrangements. I am very fortunate to have such a good relationship (and friendship) with my producer and co-writer.

When we last spoke, you said that you were a fan of Goldfrapp who have managed to turn their hand to all out pop, electronica, folk – would you like to experiment with different genres and if so, which would interest you most?

Yes. In fact, we have already starting talking about the next album. Whoever You Are is probably the best reference for where I want to go next musically. It is also (along with ‘Unlove You’) the most recent song Steve and I wrote for my debut.  

You also said you were a Spice Girls fan. What’s your favourite Spice Girls song and what’s your favourite solo Spice Girl song?

2 Become 1. Solo song – anything by Emma, I love her voice… Maybe / What Took You So Long 🙂

Finally, before we go, what’s on the cards once you’ve finished promoting the album?

Well, we will be promoting well into next year, with some live dates across the UK in February. But I guess, after all the promotion – album 2!?? 

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