Letters To An X is out now!
Earlier this year, Alt-pop/folk duo HARLOR made their debut with the release of their EP, Letters To An X. We caught up with vocalist Nick Gerard to unpack the release, their collaborative creative process and so much more!
Could you tell us a bit about your musical background and how HARLOR came to be?
I have been playing instruments like piano, fiddle, violin, and guitar since I was about 10 years old. A lot of different genres and styles came together during my musical development. I didn’t start writing and recording songs until high school, but then they were more acoustic singer/songwriter songs. In college Max and I met and started recording music together that had a more pop sound, and naturally my songwriting kind of followed the new sound we found in the music.
Congratulations on the release of your debut EP, Letters To An X! The release navigates a relationship close to its demise. Could you tell us about the concepts explored within the songs and the importance of documenting them on your debut EP?
The songs aren’t all from the same perspective, I wanted to experiment with different emotions - i.e. trying to understand what the other person from my history was feeling. That being said, they aren’t all about one person and they are all necessarily inspired by my own relationships. I think music is a great way to relate and cope with different areas in your life. I had a lot to say about messy relationships when we started writing this EP, so it naturally is what came across the strongest… If you listen with a story in mind from beginning to end, there is a timeline from the start of the end to the end of a relationship: Heart Games - still together but one person is all but using you at this point, As A Dream - the realization that this person is toxic but still too scared to be alone, Letting You Down - kind of flips to the villain’s perspective that they’ve gotten comfortable hurting their partner, Not Ready To Go - the relationship is severed and the villain has moved on, but you aren’t ready to let go, Skeletons - you’ve reached closure and aren’t afraid to confront that part of your past, Be Well - fighting a remaining depression that can linger after a failed relationship.
Sonically, the release implements guitar-driven melodies, acoustic and electronic production. How did you arrive at the overall sonic exploration and sounds present on the record?
Really we just experimented with two ends of the spectrum until things sounded right. We wanted to fit into an indie/pop world, but not lose too much organic nature of music. Contrast in music can really bring out the best and worst in music, so we toed that line and hopefully landed somewhere good.
Could you tell us a bit about your collaborative creative process when writing and recording this collection of songs?
We collaborated on production with the Katalyst team on this project. I wrote 5 of the 6 songs on this EP, with the exception of Skeletons. That song we worked with an excellent team out of Nashville headed by Josh Silverberg.
How did the EP evolve and change as you were creating it, and were there any tracks left on the cutting room floor that you think might have a life in the future?
I think Max and I found out more sonically where we wanted to go by the end of making this EP. I don’t know if the EP changed much as we were putting it together. Be Well was never supposed to make the cut, but it was substituted in cause it’s a personal favorite. We have a record titled Goner that was supposed to fit in its place, but I think that song will make an appearance on another HARLOR in the future.
If you had to pick one song off the EP to play to someone who had never heard your music to make them an instant fan, which song would it be and why?
Hmmmm… As I said, Be Well is a personal favorite. But I’d have to go with Skeletons. It has such energy and passion that I think by the final chants in the last hook you’d be a HARLOR fan.
Throughout the EP’s rollout, we’ve seen some great visuals (images and videos). How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs?
I love the images and videos, but I have to be honest in saying that I think they are icing on the cake.
What’s one line from the EP you find at times could be stuck in your head? Or a line that you come back to?
“Tell myself we’d never be, but didn’t have the guts to leave”. Cause it’s something I’d felt in relationships but too embarrassed to acknowledge. And I think a lot of people stay in bad relationships cause they’d rather be miserable and with someone than just alone.
What messages do you hope listeners take away from the release?
I hope they can relate to these songs, and maybe they can have a positive effect on a situation they may be going through. As new artists we also hope they take away that HARLOR is gonna keep bringing them awesome music and it will only get better!
With everything that’s been happening in the world touring has changed, what are your 2021 live performance plans, what can fans expect from a live show, and is there a chance we’ll see you performing in Australia when you are able to do so?
We are putting together a bigger live show currently. We’ve played a lot of acoustic live streams of our EP songs, but are working on a show that we can play in bigger venues that will translate the full productions on the record. Our plan is to work that show through smaller venues in NYC to start, and hopefully build to festivals and traveling to places like Australia to play our music!
Jon Bellion, Ed Sheeran, Beatles.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
Ed Sheeran’s + (Plus) album.
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Something For Everyone.
Best song of 2021 so far?
Imagine by Ben Platt.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
The Greatest Showman.
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
A song you would love to cover on tour?
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Currently… Twenty-One Pilot’s Scaled and Icy.
First concert you went to?
Toby Keith at age 5.
First album you ever bought?
Dave Matthews Band Live At Radio City.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a Backstreet Boy?
What’s your favourite back street?
Most memorable show you’ve ever performed?
Library Arts Cafe in high school - one of the first.
Guilty music pleasure?
If you could support any artist on tour, who would it be?
An artist you think has had the most influence on the music industry.
What advice would your current self, give your future self, for a year from now?
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
When a production deal was offered as I was filling out medical school applications