Melbourne singer songwriter Harris unveils his debut EP, OK Kombucha. The debut extended release sees Harris present a collection of deeply personal tracks, brought together with the help of close friends and family. With the majority of tracks written at his home in Carlton where he spent Melbourne’s 2020 lockdowns, OK Kombucha sees Harris venture into themes of mismatched relationships, hedonism, commitment (or lack thereof), and new beginnings, through a mystifying lens of folk, rock, and synth. The majority of OK Kombucha was recorded in between lockdowns at Sunset Pig Studios with Sam Swain, and at Taste Police, the studio Harris shares with Vincent McIntyre (Fan Girl), Dominic Buckham and Tom Dowling (Rat!Hammock).
The EP was created alongside producers Sam Swain (Rat!Hammock, Obscura Hail), Vincent McIntyre (Fan Girl, Porpoise Spit, primetime) and Edvard Hakansson (Osaka and Mimi Gilbert). The release features musicians Dom Buckham (Rat!Hammock, Porpoise Spit), Albert Salt (Juno Disco and Albert Salt) and Vincent McIntyre (Fan Girl, primetime, 711), and was mastered by Adam Dempsey (Angie McMahon, Josh Cashman). Harris tells Hi Fi Way more about the EP.
Awesome single, how has the build up been to the new single Sunbake Cemetery?
Thank you very much! The build up towards the single has was pretty fun actually! The song has been finished for a little while now, so it was just the fun stuff like doing the video and press shots left. So very little stress (for me personally)!
What is the background behind the single?
Lyrically, It’s a retrospective song about a time in my life where I was a little reckless and selfish, and thought there were minimal consequences to my actions. I feel a little older and a lot wiser now, and know that’s not true, so it’s about that. The name Sunbake Cemetery came from a note that I wrote down in my phone while I was spending time in Copenhagen. There’s a cemetery there where people sunbathe in summer. Musically, it’s jaunty indie rock pop song, with a random UK garage bridge. That section originally started a joke between the producer Sam Swain and I, but then we fell in love with and had to keep. My band Vince (drums), Dom (bass) and Albert (violin) all play on it.
What has the fan response been like so far?
I’ve had a really great response to the single so far! I think people appreciate a Harris song that you can dance too, I don’t know if you can say that about too many of my songs. People seem to really love the video too. It stars me as an evangelical priest, and was made by my very clever friends Frankie Napier and Lucy Campbell.
Do you think your sound has evolved much since you started out?
Technically, I’ve only been making music under Harris for a few years, but I think the whole idea behind Harris is that it’s just the music that comes out naturally to me. So I guess it’s always been all over the place. And it’s very different music compared to the music my band Fan Girl makes. I feel like OK kombucha is pretty eclectic. I mean all the songs sit in the general sphere of indie rock/pop, and there’s themes and colours that tie it all together, but I feel like they are all exploring different creative areas. So I guess (so far at least) it’s been evolving, from song to song. The production definitely has been evolving!
Sonically, how would you describe OK Kombucha?
Lush guitars, weird eerie synths and strings, tight and smart drum and bass layers and then with my voice really loud on top of it all.
Does the music come before the lyrics?
Chords usually come first, and then it’s a melody which make me pursue something. Often lyrics will start from what phoentically is coming out with the melody, but I’m constantly writing down words in my notes, so stuff from there will be inputted into the lyrics. I will always have a multiple drafts of lyrics though, it’s an ongoing gruelling process until the song has been recorded.
Who would you say is the biggest shared musical influence/ inspiration for yourself?
I would say probably equally Elliott Smith and Phoebe Bridgers are the biggest influence on the Harris sound. I like to think that I take that influence in a different direction. The way they both write lyrics and melodies really resonates and inspires me. Also the perfect balance between the dark and humour is something that those two do expertly, which is something I strive to do with Harris.
Did you lose much momentum last year due to the pandemic?
In some ways yes, in some ways no. It was obviously pretty devastating not to be able to play shows at all or even to be able to be in the same space with my friends making music. But it was actually really amazing to have so much free time to create. Thankfully, I was on jobkeeper due to my day job, so I was being paid to be at home, so it was the first time I felt like a full time musician. It was the only thing I had to focus on and it was really freeing and inspiring. Life’s gone back to normal (sort of), but I have changed a lot of things in my life, due to that realisations I had during that period.
Are you looking forward to being able to tour more broadly around the country this year?
Yeah absolutely. I’ve toured around with my band Fan Girl and in other bands. But Harris has only ever played shows inside Victoria. So really excited to take our show on the road. It’s a great show.
What’s next for Harris?
Currently working on new songs for the next Harris EP and hoping to play more shows with my band around the country.
Interview By Rob Lyon