HARVES' new single The River is out now! We chat to the duo about the release and more.
Melbourne duo HARVES have returned with their second release of the year, The River. We chat to the duo about the release, their formation and so much more!
The River brings a cinematic quality, with the pair bringing their signature rich balance of production and keys with bracing vocals. Band members Samuel K Sproull and Matthew Wright wrote the song from their respective homes, conceptually bashing the song around the feeling of isolation and the yearning to feel free again. The spatial and brooding release is built on a strong rhythm and groove, with Wright’s vocals, ebbing and flowing as the song navigates through its peaks and valleys.
The new release follows Do Your Worst, another track which finds itself built on meticulously formed beds of instrumentation. Continuing their ambient and experimental sounds, Do Your Worst was picked up for placement in the 2020 romantic drama, After We Collided.
The River is out now! Read our interview with HARVES below.
Tell us a bit how you began creating music together…
Sam and I have known each other for 10+ years. After he produced The Getaway Plan’s latest record (Dark Horses), he and I began sharing music with each other via dropbox. At first, we had no real intention of making anything of it, but we eventually decided to take it seriously. After a few different approaches and a couple of failed attempts, Harves was the end result.
The River was written during the tight COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria that left citizens with limited interactions. It is conceptually based around the feeling of isolation and the yearning to feel free again. How significant was it for you to capture the feelings and emotions of citizens of Victoria, and people worldwide, during a time of hardship?
The song itself wasn’t written in response to lockdown, but it was certainly the catalyst for us getting it finished. We really didn’t want that time to be wasted, so as soon as restrictions came in to effect, I invested in some new gear that allowed me to record vocals properly from home. It would be nice to say the song had some significance to other people’s struggles, but truth is I’m a pretty selfish writer. Nearly all of my lyrics are introspective.
There’s quite an atmospheric and spatial quality to the soundscape of the track, allowing thought and contemplation. How did you arrive at creating these sounds?
We don’t make any conscious attempt at sounding any particular way. It’s probably a result of our influences more than anything. We’ve both come from pretty energetic rock bands, so I think we’re naturally inclined to keep things more chilled for this project. Space is really important to us. It’s really easy to get carried away during the writing/recording process. I think the art of restraint is something that comes with age.
The song anticipates what is to come on the other end, wondering how life will be once the world moves past the pandemic. What do you think the future holds?
Harves’ future is pretty open at this point. We’re focusing on writing and plan to keep releasing music (in what format, we’re still unsure). We will absolutely begin touring at some point, but it’s hard to say when. As for the future of the world? That’s a tough one. It’s hard to know whether things will get back to normal anytime soon, and whether normal will even be normal anymore. It’s a pretty worrisome time for humanity.
What is something you each learnt during the conception of The River?
MW :I learned to be less afraid of recording vocals by myself. I’m a pretty bad audio engineer, so I’ve always relied heavily on being in a room with Sam to get anything done. This time around, I was forced to record the vocals for ‘The River’ in my bedroom by myself. I’ve demoed endless tracks from home, but this is the first thing that’s ever been released. I still need Sam to do 99% of the technical work but knowing that I can comfortably record my vocals from home in the future is a huge step for me.
SKS: I learned to shed a few layers of my ‘this is finished’ filter - It’s easy to forget that a lot of what we create as a demo is pretty much good to go as is. I think it comes from our background of being in bands where you have to demo things constantly, whereas in a more electronic based project you’re building the track up over time.
Did you encounter any challenges whilst creating music during the COVID-19 pandemic, or did it allow you the time and space to immerse yourself within this musical project?
MW: We’re both used to collaborating separately and in isolation. We’re fairly introverted people, so it didn’t take all that much to adapt. We do a lot of our writing separately, but we normally try to get together 1-2 times a week. Those times are pretty integral and losing out on that was a pretty big hurdle to get over. I feel pretty happy with our progress considering the situation at hand.
SKS: Some of the challenges were a bit of a blessing, such as forcing us to adapt to a workflow where we can get more done independently. I think over the course of lockdown the ebb and flow leaned more into the ebb and it’s tough to forgive yourself for a lack of output, especially when so many people are trying their hardest to maintain appearances on social media.
How do you feel music and the industry has evolved and adapted throughout this year?
MW: I suppose it’s a pretty grim time to be a musician. It’s great to see that bands are starting to book shows again, but it’s also pretty worrying when the future still remains uncertain. I’m worried about what the new normal is going to be. The whole limited-capacity/covid-friendly vibe is something I’m not looking forward to. It all feels a bit too dystopian for me.
SKS: The rich got richer during lockdown as far as I can tell. People have been less motivated to discover new artists and are relying on their usual favorites to get them through. A lot of independent artists have been exploring new ways of connecting with their audience - streaming has gone bananas for example - but the majority seem a bit lost and confused.
Could you tell us a bit about your creative process when writing and recording songs?
It changes constantly. We’re pretty big gear nerds, so we’re always buying new synths/gadgets. New toys are often the inspiration for new music. We try not to be too hard on ourselves. We’ve learned to appreciate the down times as much as the hyper-creative periods.
How do you feel your music speaks to listeners, and what messages do you hope they take away from the release?
Matt touched on it before - our songwriting is very introspective and leans heavily into melancholy. I’m more concerned about how the songs make me feel so if our listeners can tap into that same sort of feeling then it’s mission accomplished.
Australia has a diverse and vibrant music scene, who are some of your favourite Aussie acts?
Right now, I’m kind of obsessed with Daniel McCagh, an electronic artist that makes some super grim stuff, his latest record is fantastic. On top of that I’ve been really fortunate to work on a lot of music I love with artists like Japanese Wallpaper, Montgomery, Aydin Sayar, Higher Places, The Sunken Sea, Nearly There, Eliza & The Delussionals and Peachnoise. Check all of them out.
Can fans expect a full-length body of work in the near future? And what do we have to look forward to in terms of the sonic sound of future releases?
Absolutely. We don’t want to wait too long before we release an album. We may release another single or two in the meantime, but I don’t think we’ll be doing any EP’s or anything like that. We have too much music to do anything but a full-length. The sounds are pretty all over the place at the moment, but things always start out pretty chaotic with us.
The current pandemic has obviously put a halt to touring and performing live, what are your post pandemic touring plans? And what can people expect from a HARVES live show?
We have no plans to play shows as of yet, but we intend for it to be a huge part of what we do. We’d like to get more musicians involved when it comes to playing live. That’s a pretty exciting idea for us. It’s hard to say what people should expect. We don’t really know ourselves yet.
Radiohead, Bjork, Massive Attack, Portishead, HEALTH.
Album that has had the most impact on you?
How do you define your musical style in 3 words?
Best song of 2020?
If I Callby Emilie Nicolas.
If you could create the soundtrack for any film, which one would it be?
A sequel to Annihilation, but really, we’re in this for the video game soundtracks.
Album you would listen to on repeat on a road trip?
Anything by HEALTH.
Best concert each band member has been to?
MW – Bjork @ Sydney Opera House
SKS - Nine Inch Nails @ Soundwave
Last concert you went to?
MW - Joe Hisaishi @ Sidney Myer Music Bowl
SKS - Alex Lahey, Japanese Wallpaper and Gretta Ray at a bushfire fundraiser in Brunswick. Feels like forever ago.
Guilty music pleasure?
MW: I stopped feeling guilty about liking any kind of music a long time ago.
Would you rather be a Spice Girl or a One Direction boy? And why?
A Spice Girl – They’re more bad ass.
If you were a Spice Girl, what would your Spice nickname be?
The most amount of people you’ve ever performed in front of?
We’ve never played a show, but Matt once played the AFL grand final so I guess that wins.
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?
Billie Eilish made it cool to be weird again and we’re super grateful for that.
What advice would you give yourself a year from now?
Relax, but do it in moderation.
The moment you knew you wanted to be a musician?
Listening to Dangerousby Michael Jackson.