For over a decade Harkness has been tirelessly working in his home studio, honing in on his songwriting and production skills. Having written hundreds of songs, the time to share his music has come, and his audience won’t be disappointed in the colorful, cascading vocal harmonies, electric guitars and a pallet of instruments as diverse as tuba and steel drums radiate over upbeat grooves.
Musically speaking he sings, plays guitar, bass, piano, and drums, and also produces everything himself. He counts Prince and Todd Rundgren, both of whom also worked this way, as major inspirations. Listening to Harkness though, it is more likely that Soft Bulletin era Flaming Lips, Tame Impala, and Jellyfish will come to mind.
Reflecting through the brilliant soundscapes Harkness provides on his debut album, “The Occasion,” we get a sense of creativity that bursts at the seams as each carefully crafted track has come to fruition from the depth of his virtuoso. Hoping that his audience experiences these songs in a way that has those recognizing miraculous things about themselves, Harkness is aiming to change the game with this collection of songs.
There’s a theatrical element that remains consistent in the entirety of “The Occasion.” Using live instruments in order to propel a life-like approach that each song carries, we commence the body of work with the title track and introductory single, “The Occasion.” Prominent horn notes cascade through layers of texture and nostalgia when it comes to creating a fortified environment that’s refreshing with transitional moments to sweeten the amalgamation of musicality. Eclectically portraying these themes in a way that has the mind lingering on certain melodies, the accords that lie in the beauty of becoming is exactly what a track like this has to offer.
Taking us into the soothing opulence of sustaining guitar riffs and a rock forward presence, the classic notes of “I.D.,” grace the speakers in a way that has us transporting ourselves through the decades. Allowing the rhythmic jive of the bassline to remain a prominent aspect of the musical foundation, the way that Harkness’ vocal delivery glides upon the foundation saturates our soul in enticing descants. “GM GM,” fits in a similar wave of what “I.D.,” offers up in terms of the effortless grace that projects itself through well-thought-out components being encrusted together for the ultimate storyline to unfold.
“Tornado,” is the third song heard on “The Occasion,” and it navigates us through a more psychedelic feel that triumphantly weaves itself into the sonic destinations we’ve already come to experience. Applauding the array of vocal harmonies that sit in a reverberated field of dimension, there’s something so spectacular to the imagery that Harkness brings to life. Placing a great emphasis on the dark undercurrents that bask beneath the surface, Harkness ensures the chaotic division of the world around us is expressed through these thoughtful structures. All the while songs like “The Opener,” find themselves tiptoeing on the line of psychedelic riffs, and mind-altering charisma with the unforeseen growth that it chooses to unravel itself with. There’s an ingenious method that has come from the way each song presents its origin, and we’re ultimately here for the methods to Harkness’ madness at the end of the day.
Appreciating the countless moods that are disbursed through this project, “Hymn,” and “Defibrillator,” taking on a slower tempo than the other songs heard on “The Occasion,” tracks as such have us fixated upon the delicate timbres that Harkness exudes. We admire the moments of solitude that these records declare as you’re swarming in pieces of musical jamborees that border the eccentric notions Harkness sets out to manifest with major transitional tones in the mix.
“Code,” has us immediately feeling the darker tones that tend to delve into foreboding shadows of musical depth. With minimalistic instrumentation and the tantalizing nature that poses itself to cast shadows of mystery, we admire the breakthrough that happens as we embrace everything that bursts from these hues.
“Shark Fin Soup,” and “Lure of the Pollen,” embody a buoyantly, funk-fueled environment that allows us to tap into our curiosity as a whole. Between soft-spoken words that evolve through the pouring of prominently repetitive lyrical motifs, there’s a playfulness that inspires us to not take this world too seriously in these tracks as they coincide in the emotion felt.
As we come to the final moments of the album, the outro song titled “Moon Spell,” has us swept into an atmospheric sense of golden notes that drive home the overall quintessence of Harkness. Through the narratives we just took in, the ultimate goal is for those listening to feel the urgency and desperation of our time, but to stay inspired and emotionally moved enough to take steps in their own lives in order to help improve our collective world. Listen to “The Occasion,” on your favorite streaming platform today.
Thank you for joining us at BuzzMusic Harkness, and congratulations on such an eclectic album of excellence. With you continuously working on your sound and perfecting the elements you would like to project, how does it feel to have this body of work out in the ears of the public?
It feels absolutely amazing to finally share this music and to know that there is now the opportunity for countless music lovers to dive into it if they so wish. There is also a massive sense of relief and the feeling that all of the hard work, blood sweat, and tears weren't in vain. Now that it is out I hope that people continue to discover this work for decades to come.
Could you please shine a light on the creative and recording process that you embarked on when bringing the variety of themes that you have to life? Was anyone else able to help you live out your vision to the fullest, or did this project solely rely on you?
Conceptually and creatively this whole musical trip was pretty much a solo voyage from beginning to end. I was forced to learn how to record and mix as I went along. If I ran into trouble I could call friends who had more experience and get advice or opinions on mixes or how to use certain gear. I have a humble basement studio where I would write the songs then bring in musicians, usually one person at a time, and just keep layering all the performances and sounds. At times it felt like I was never going to be able to finish the more epic songs like "The Occasion" or "Moon Spell" but thankfully one day I woke up and it was all done.
Out of the 11-tracks that we have the pleasure of hearing, is there anyone in particular that speaks to you on a deeper level? Why?
Wow, That is a tough question. Without a doubt they All speak to me on a very deep level and in many different ways for different reasons so I can't pick just one. I think the title track "The Occasion" is the heaviest for me as a whole because of the diversity both musically and emotionally, it really does go on a trip that accurately reflects the places I go as an individual both internally and externally. "Moon Spell" is the song that came out the closest to how I had dreamt it would, I feel I got lucky all along the way with that one, from the very genesis to the final note recorded. Lastly, "Hymn" holds the deepest place in my heart because it was written the day my Father passed away and recorded the next day.
Do you have any words of advice for artists out there who may be hesitant on taking the plunge to allow others to hear what they’ve been creating?
Personally, I think you should take your time and only put out music that you feel incredibly strong about and not put music out just for the sake of having 'content out there' This is your handshake to the world after all. Whether it is music to party to or music that you feel really reflects the deepest places in you it should feel like a Bullseye if you are going to share it with the world. Once you feel that strongly about your song I wouldn't hesitate to launch it out into the Universe!
What’s your mission statement as an artist?
I don't think I have any particular mission statement, I would just like to continue to keep making the most honest music I possibly can without overanalyzing it. Just keep the floodgates open and welcome any new feeling or sound with no limits or style in mind. I think the moment you 'try to create something is the moment you limit the process. For me, a choiceless, effortless state is where this Bear finds his Honey.