Harper Finn's new single She Said is out now! We chat to the musician about the release and more.
Image: James K Lowe
Yesterday, New Zealand alt-pop singer-songwriter Harper Finn revealed the visual for his latest single, She Said. We caught up with the musician to chat about the release, his upcoming tour and so much more!
She Said is an ode to the women within Finn's life, the women he turns to in times of need and distress, leaving an impactful influence on his own life. Directed by James K Lowe and Nicole Miller Wong, the songs neon-lit visual sees Finn dance off against his co-star Celina May, pulling off some synchronised whilst bringing the songs dream-like qualities to life
She Said is out now! Read our interview with Harper Finn below.
Could you tell us a bit about how you began your musical journey, and your background in music?
I played piano from an early age so I always had instruments around me. It wasn’t until I was in high school where people started to ask me to be in their bands, that I really started to have a love for music. During this time I joined an 8 piece hip hop band and had to learn how to adjust my piano playing skills to the synthesiser. It was also my crash course into learning how to use production software like Ableton. By the time the band broke up I was able to record and produce myself which was a liberating feeling.
Your new single She Said pays homage to the women in your life, how their influence has helped shape who you are. How important was it for you to use this song as a vehicle to celebrate these women and the powerful impact that women can have on your life?
It was super important. I’m really lucky to have the people that I do in my life and lucky that so many of them are inspiring women, my mother and sister especially. I feel like this theme is a fairly unexplored area in song writing and I wanted to share my experiences with bringing that sense of relationship into the lyric. It’s not a love song as such, it’s a conversation between a man and a woman – she may be a partner, a mother, a sister, or a trusted female friend, offering reassurance.
The track is built upon rhythmic 808 kicks, continuing your signature bending exploration of pop. How did you arrive at and craft the sonics we hear on the release?
The song started as just a drum loop with a very simple bass line that I had lying around for months. I knew it had something to it and I loved that it was at 98bpm as I’d never written a song at that tempo. Usually I start my songs on the piano and build them from there so writing to something that had already started production-wise was new for me. Once the song was written, Cole MGN and I went back and started to piece together the production. I did a lot of the recording here in Auckland and would send files over to Cole in LA. A lot of time was spent on FaceTime going over the latest versions we sent to each other. I wanted to keep the synth/80’s theme we had established in Dance Away These Days paired with a more’ dreamscape’ feel to the chorus’s . We had also been listening to a lot of Sade, so I think of bit that made its way into the track as well.
The songs neon-lit visual sees you dance off against your co-star, and do some great syncronised moves. How involved were you when it came to conceptualising the video clip?
I was very involved from the get go. I brought in James Lowe and Nicole Miller-Wong who directed my last video once I had the idea of what the video was going to be and we just talked it through and compared mood boards until we settled on an approach for the look and setting. From there I reached out to Josh Cesan and Celina May to collaborate on the dance side of things. We spent a week in rehearsals working through the ideas I had and applying them to a certain framework that we could repeat. This part of making and releasing music is what I’m so fortunate to be able to experience. To speak to other creatives in different fields and bring in all their talents to create something that incorporates all the things I love.
What was your most memorable moment on set during filming She Said?
Probably doing the dance routine for the first time in front of the crew. It felt like there was a lot of anticipation for that moment. I’m not gonna lie I got quite nervous beforehand.
How important are the visuals to you when it comes to portraying the stories and themes present on the songs?
Very important. When the concept of a song comes into my head, some kind of visuals are there as well. For me, the visual idea helps the song writing process. It’s giving me a glimpse of the fully realised idea and helps focus all the components that go into a song.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording? Do you follow a specific formula or does each song take on its own process?
Most songs start and finish on the piano before I bring in production but every time the journey to the finish is slightly different. And in saying that I’ve started writing to drum beat loops like I did for “She Said” more and more to change it up. I find that the bringing in certain elements early, like rhythm, push the songwriting into another space which can result in songs that couldn’t of been written any other way.
If She Said was a piece of pre-existing visual art (painting, sculpture, photograph etc), which artwork would it be? (excluding the album artwork and accompanying visuals)
Perhaps a Freda Kahlo Self portrait….
What can we expect from you for the rest of 2021? Will we be hearing an EP or album?
An EP is coming! I’m just in the process of choosing what will make the cut! I love being able to listen a playlist of all these completed songs but it’s also It’s very hard to narrow it down to a just handful…
You’ll be embarking your national tour of New Zealand this month! What can audiences expect from one of your live shows?
I’ve been saying there’s something for everyone. We have a fairly diverse set with loud dance moments all the way down to quieter ‘piano only’ moments. I love going to shows where the set has a full arc to them so I’m hoping people come away from my show feeling the same way.
Will we be seeing you perform in Australia anytime soon now that our borders are open to each other?
Yes! Can’t give you any dates yet so all I can say is soon…
Tame Impala, Christine and the Queens, Daft Punk
I would love to work with King Princess
Album that has had the most impact on you?
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Melodic, dance…festival-pop (I’m counting that as one word)
A release you’re most looking forward to in 2021?
I’m hoping Kendrick Lamar drops a new album this year
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
Hannah Montana or Miley Cyrus?
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Best concert you have been to?
Last concert you went to?
My own last night! (Lucky us here in New Zealand)
Would you rather be in One Direction or the Spice Girls?
Guilty music pleasure?
Pop music from 2005 -2010
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?
Remember everything that got you to where you are and always acknowledge the people who have helped you on the way