Something we love here at THP is championing artists who are really passionate about what they do and have worked really hard to create a body of work that reflects themselves and the world around them. This week, we’d love to introduce you or perhaps reintroduce you to Harriet. Harriet is a singer-songwriter currently based in London who is gearing up for the release of her second album. It’s optimistic, uplifting, and empowering, and we have a feeling you’re going to love it.
The Outcome will be with us next week, and we cannot wait to hear it. While we’re getting excited about the album, we got to talk to the artist herself ahead of her comeback. The interview is full of heart, and you really get to know Harriet as a person and an artist, so we hope you enjoy it!
We’ve had ‘Story Of Your Life’ on repeat since it came out, but some fans who have heard you playing it live have waited a while for this single! It’s such an infectious feel-good tune; what was the inspiration behind it, and why was now the right time to release it for you?
I’m so pleased you’re enjoying it! I wrote it as a message to my younger self, and to anyone who ever feels like they’re not capable of doing something. Our own voices can get so drowned out by the noise of overthinking and worrying, that we often end up not doing things for fear of failing or letting other people down. ‘Story Of Your Life’ is about learning to play the lead role in your life and owning it, no matter what might come of it. The song existed only as a demo for a long time and after revisiting it, I felt like it was the best way to introduce people to my new album as it really represents where I am in my life at the moment. The song has gotten me through some difficult times; I hope it helps others in the same way.
Everyone here at THP is so passionate about music, and we love to hear about what made artists fall in love with it too. Is there a time in your life when you knew that music was your calling?
When growing up, I did lots of am-dram shows at my local theatre, and when I was 13, there was an event to celebrate a big anniversary of the theatre company, with one song performed from each production. It was my first time performing solo and I was so nervous. I sang ‘He’s a Tramp’ by Peggy Lee, from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp. The act before me was from Cabaret or Chicago; something loud, with a huge production. Everyone was drunk, there was so much noise in the auditorium and when I walked onto stage, nobody saw me. I was so shocked by the whole thing and I hadn’t even performed yet! I just stood there, frozen. The piano intro kept going round and round and round, and I’m 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 realized in that moment that I had moved those people, made them feel something, and changed their state. And that’s when I realized 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.
You have such a talent for writing lyrics that really stay with you. When you hit the studio, do you go into the session with a strong idea of what you want to write or do you go with the flow? We’d love to know what the songwriting process is like for you.
Thank you. The process varies. On this album, I was going into the studio with so many new collaborators, I really wanted to allow myself to be inspired initially by ideas they had for songs in terms of chord progressions and production. I always carry a bank of lyrics and melodies with me that I add to constantly. An idea from a co-writer might then fit perfectly with a song title I wanted to explore, the magic happens, and then you’re off! A lot of the songs on The Outcome were born out of conversations about life; brief snapshots of memories that we ended up capturing in 3 minutes of music. For example, ‘Nothing Hurts Like You’ is such a visual song for me; every time I sing it, I am right there, in that moment, stood in the snow, watching an old flame drive off into the night with his new lover. Some sessions are harder than others in terms of the place we go to lyrically. ‘Burn’ was a difficult song for me to write. There were a lot of tears that day, “I’ve got this weight upon my shoulders, I don’t know why or who it’s for” basically sums up my life.
It’s been a while since you released your last album, and a lot has changed in the world since then! How different have you found the process of putting out an album this time, and do you feel you’ve grown much as an artist since Harriet was released?
There is such a huge focus on streaming and social media now, it has felt overwhelming at times and a bit like standing in front of a huge mountain that I’ve got to work out how to climb! But thank god for the music itself. Whenever I have days where everything feels impossible, I just listen to the songs, because that’s what it’s all about isn’t it! That is ultimately what will move people and connect me to them. I feel that artists who were able to establish themselves before the digital era really got a leg up. I think it’s so hard for new artists now to cut through unless you already have a huge following on those platforms. However, it has given creators who never would have had the opportunity to release music to get their songs out there and find an audience, so it’s also an amazing thing! I’ve grown a lot as an artist since my first album was released. I feel more confident to say no to things now that I might have been swayed to agree to in the past. And I have also not limited myself to a certain theme or sound with The Outcome. I feel like I’ve been put in a bit of a box in the past (often by myself) and I’m definitely outside of that now creatively. It’s a great place to be!
You’ve said The Outcome has some seventies vibes going on. Are there any artists who have inspired you when finding your sound as an artist or have specifically influenced the sound of the upcoming album?
I made the whole record in Stockholm, Sweden, so ABBA are of course the first group who come to mind. I love how their music makes me feel; emotional, uplifted, encouraged. These are what I strive for people to feel when they listen to The Outcome; they are the best feelings! I grew up listening to everything from The Beatles and Carole King to Britney Spears and Celine Dion. I’m so drawn to music from those less complicated, warmer eras of the 60s and 70s. I wish I had been alive at that time! Sonically, you will hear references to that music in my songs, whether it be a chord progression or a synth sound, a type of harmony. More recent artists like Kacey Musgraves have inspired me so much. Her work with Daniel Tashian and Ian Fitchuk on her Golden Hour record was on repeat for me when it came out; I had been waiting for a record like that to appear for such a long time. The producers I worked with on The Outcome were so brilliant at fusing all these influences with other elements to keep everything fresh, but still authentic to me. I recorded a cover of Swedish artist, Laleh’s song, ‘Some Die Young,’ which I ended up loving so much that we have included it on my album. I discovered with her music whilst working in Sweden and think she is fantastic. She is also so multitalented; an artist, songwriter, producer… Such an inspiration.
Speaking of influences, from the BRIT awards suit to your album promo looks, we’ve really been loving your style lately! How do you find your personal style, and does it tend to match up with your musical vibe at the time?
I didn’t really have the opportunity to develop an image on my first record, so the process of working on the visuals for The Outcome has been amazing! I have a fantastic creative team who have helped me build looks and themes for the campaign that really reflect the music and what I’m about. Needless to say, it’s very much in that 70s world! Flares, platforms, daisies, haze over the camera… We went all-out with it. The obsession with this style started very young for me. I remember asking my mum to buy this piece of 70s satin curtain fabric that I’d found to make me some bell-bottom flares out of. They were covered in pink and orange zigzags. I wore them to the school disco several times. Everyone probably thought I was a bit odd, but I thought I looked amazing. I wish I still had them ha! I would also pick CDs to listen from my parents’ collection based on the front cover. Carole King’s album, Tapestry, where she is sat at a window, with her cat, in this muted, soft focus world was always somewhere I just wanted to be. The artwork for The Outcome was very much inspired by this. I was over the moon when we got that shot!
You’re managing your album campaign yourself this time which must be a huge undertaking so well done, you’re doing an amazing job! What does it mean to you to have that control over your work and how it’s presented?
It’s important for me as ultimately, when you’re an artist, no one cares more about your project than you. So to be across it all means that it’s the best it can be and I suppose if anything goes wrong, then that’s on me, and hey, it’s part of the journey! I have a great team around me who have helped pull it all together and I couldn’t have done it without them. So much more is expected of artists now from the industry. Being a great singer or songwriter isn’t enough. So it’s been a learning process, but I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved with The Outcome. I can’t wait for people to hear the record.
Your album preview show is coming up pretty soon; that’s going to be such a fun experience for the fans to hear the album ahead of its release. Does it make shows more nerve-wracking if the fans haven’t heard the new music yet, or is it more exciting?
This time around, it was actually quite nerve-wracking for me. I’ve performed live hundreds of times and always have some nerves, but this show felt different; like everything was suddenly becoming very real! I don’t feel that songs really come to life until they are played live, as that is where the real connection with the music is made, between the artist and the audience. The feedback was amazing from the show and new and existing fans loved the new material, so that certainly gave me some good vibes for the next round of shows!
You’ve also got a big UK tour coming up; which songs from the new album are you most excited to play live?
A song called, ‘I Think Of You,’ which I wrote with Anders Hansson and Sharon Vaughn. It’s about being trapped in a relationship with someone that you wish you leave; a lover, a friend, a family member. It really came to life in rehearsals with my band and has got such a beautiful rhythm to it. I can’t wait to share that with a live crowd. Also, ‘Story Of Your Life’ is so anthemic and uplifting when everyone sings along to the backing vocal hook. I’m looking forward to singing that one every night! It will be interesting to see which songs people resonate with the most. Sometimes it can be the ones you least expect to connect that people really love.
If someone could listen to your music and take one message away from it, what would you want that to be?
To know that they are enough. I learned a lot about myself during the process of making this album, mostly that I’m made up of many parts, some great, some not so great, and that’s ok.
And finally, are there any big goals or anything you’re particularly looking forward to in 2023?
We have a couple of exciting releases planned for later in the year, so keep your eyes peeled for those… It’s all tbc at the moment, but I’ve always got to have something in the pipeline! I’d love the opportunity to continue taking The Outcome on the road, so I’m hoping we might be able to add some more dates later in the year. In the meantime, I’m looking forward to the album just being out there for people to discover.
We absolutely loved chatting with Harriet and can’t wait to see what’s to come for the year ahead! We’re wishing her the best of luck with The Outcome, and if you’re as in awe of Harriet as we are, you can preorder it here! It drops next week on the 12th of May, so make sure you get your orders in ASAP to be the first to hear it. You can also pick up your ticket here to see Harriet live!