“It has really been two or three years in the making, like a lot of artists’ debut albums,” Harriet says. “You work with a lot of different musicians, and you try to find the right sound for you. An album is a lot of songs, and it is important to have an album that has lots of moments. I really wanted to develop something that reflected me from beginning to end.
“I write my own songs, and that’s really important to me – to be able to communicate something. It could be experience or observation or inspiration, but it has to be something that is really special. I spent a lot of my teens singing in jazz bands or at weddings, so it is great to get to the point where I am singing my own songs. I started writing properly about six years ago. Or longer. When I was in jazz bands at school, I was writing my own stuff, but it was six years ago I decided to make a go of it.”
Harriet is delighted at the response so far to the debut album: “It has gone down so well. I have been really fortunate. There are so many artists out there. 30 odd years ago, you were perhaps one in a few hundred thousand, but now you are one in a trillion! It is wonderful that it is all so accessible, but it means it is very challenging to try to push yourself through the sea of talent. The key for me is rather than following the crowd and hearing what there is a lot of in the charts, just to focus on myself and what I want to do and what is important to me musically. Fortunately people have responded very positively to that kind of authenticity.”
As for the music: “There was a genre that used to be sniffed at, easy-listening… But actually, I would not call it that. I would say it is pop music. But it has got that retro edge. A lot of my influences come from the 70s, The Bee Gees and The Beatles, which were earlier obviously – and also Bread, Steely Dan, The Eagles, people like that. I have got my dad to thank for that. That’s the kind of music he brought us up on.
“It was very exciting to work with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for the album. It was just wonderful. I was able to look to get somebody on board to help fund and support the album. We wanted to give it something special. We didn’t want to produce an album and then be thinking that we wish we had done this or that. It was important to be able to add something to it and to give it the best possible chance of connecting with people. The tracks that the orchestra play on make a huge difference.”
You can get a sense of it all on the video for her single First and Last, available on YouTube: “We thought we would share this experience of working with them. Seeing them performing my songs was overwhelming. These are just little songs that I have put together, that have come from somewhere deep and important to me. But I never imagined that there was going to be another 20-odd people performing on them, and they are so talented! They can sight-read like no one else! It was really quite astonishing. I felt privileged to be working with such talented people.”
The album Harriet is available now from all digital stores and HMV. The new single Whoever You Are will be released on March 3 on Bright Star Records.
But already Harriet has started looking ahead to the next album: “I think it is important that you are always looking ahead and keep focused on the next thing.”
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