Hailing from Toronto, Canada, the alternative rock artist, producer, and singer-songwriter Harkness leaves listeners with a colorful soundscape through his latest single, "The Occasion."
Inspired by his father, who fronted 'The Al Harkness Orchestra," Harkness found himself trading in school days to hang out with the likes of John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Billie Holiday, and many more. After dropping out of school at 17, Harkness never looked back after successful tours across Canada, The U.S., U.K., and Europe.
Gearing up to release his forthcoming debut album, 'The Occasion,' Harkness leaves us with the album's title track to prepare us for the powerful listening experience. From cascading vocal harmonies and versatile organic instrumentals, the single offers a bounty of fresh-feeling aspects to complement the modern Pop aesthetic.
Listening to "The Occasion," the song begins with an ominous orchestra that breaks down into a deep and groaning tuba alongside Harkness's enthusiastic vocal approach. While the punchy drums appear, the background string section continues to offer a mysterious and intense appeal. Reaching the hook, the vibe lightens into this 60s surf rock tone while Harkness signs of rising to the occasion and not letting others bring him down in the making.
With the addition of a bright steel drum and heavy instrumentals soaked in reverbed, we can feel a nostalgic and psychedelic influence through Harkness's entire instrumental delivery. Blasting our speakers with a thrilling electric guitar to end the song off, Harkness truly leaves us in awe of his dynamic, fluid, and whole-sounding instrumentals that have us looking forward to his debut album.
Rise to "The Occasion" with help from Harkness and his debut album's title track, now available on all digital streaming platforms.
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Harkness. We're wildly impressed with the dense instrumental soundscapes of your recent single, "The Occasion." What inspired you to create such a thorough and dynamic track like this?
Well to be honest the single version of this song is just the tip of the iceberg, the album track is 8 and 1/2 minutes long and has whole other worlds to explore. Luckily I had a Father who was a musician and took my brother and I to every type of concert imaginable when we were growing up. I think that my upbringing played a huge part in the creation of a song like this. That's why you'll hear everything from bright colorful vocal harmony to more sinister darkly orchestrated passages to funky sections and everything in between. Luckily I am an independent artist with no A+R guy over my shoulder saying...'What the Hell is all of this' haha...
Was there a particular message or concept that you wrote about within your single, "The Occasion?" What did you want your listeners to take away from your lyrics?
Ultimately I want people to take whatever trip they feel like when they listen to "The Occasion" I purposefully made it quite open to interpretation. It could be as simple as you have a job interview that morning, or a hockey game to play and you throw on this song to 'get up for it'. On a much deeper note, it could be heard as a rallying cry or call to arms for all of us to look closely at ourselves and the world around us and to acknowledge the changes necessary to create a more peaceful existence today. Fun stuff like that.
Could you elaborate on how you achieved such a broad, cinematic, and dynamic soundscape for "The Occasion?" What was your creative process like?
The first part that came to me was the chorus of "The Occasion" and as it arrived I just knew that I had a very big fish on the hook. Intuitively I felt in my bones that it had to be a reflection of both the state of the whole outside world and at the same time the whole state of each of our inner worlds, and that meant creating a variety of different musical 'trips' to communicate all of that. From there I just let it all flow and it came fairly quickly. As I record one instrument at a time getting it all in the can was a pretty crazy task and a Super Fun musical experience. At last count, I had over 500 tracks of audio(You will understand when you hear the album version!)
How does the single "The Occasion" represent the themes of your forthcoming album, 'The Occasion?' How does the single prepare us for the project?
This particular single gives a great glimpse into the whole album both musically and lyrically. You've got style-bending sonic worlds that encourage the listener to expect the unexpected and a sort of 'light at the end of the tunnel' feeling throughout. While some of the album's lyrics do refer to outside world events much of the music suggests an inward journey and the possibility that the solution to our planet's problems isn't going to come from making changes in political policies, or social reforms. That the revolution isn't going to happen outside of us, it's going to happen inside of us.
What's next for you?
Following "The Occasion" I will be releasing another single called "Moon Spell." It is a space ballad with a very dreamy atmosphere that parallels our whole Covid existence. After that, I am excited to say that on August 13 the whole album will finally come out.