Last year saw trusted local troubadour Noah Harris (Fan Girl) release two singles ‘Quarters’ and ‘Perfume’ under the mononymous moniker HARRIS. Garnering praise from triple j‘s Declan Byrne calling the tracks an ‘intimate and captivating introduction’, Noah has since continued to brew his own blend of melancholic indie folk.
Before he headlines the Grace Darling Basement this Tuesday night (or the ‘Gracement’ as it’s affectionately known), HARRIS shares his thoughts on some big, singular names.
Bono, Cher, Akon, Gotye, Prince. What do all these musicians have in common? One name. Is it wanky and narcissistic for me to go down the same path with Harris? Maybe. Here are my favourite artists, new and old, with mononymous names.
My grade one teacher was a woman called Wendy and she was an Elvis impersonator. I adored her, and consequently started to fall for Elvis too. Eventually singing and dancing along to a best of Elvis album wasn’t enough for me and I asked my Mums if I could have guitar lessons so I could learn to play Elvis songs. So I definitely owe my introduction into performing to Wendy, my Mums and The King.
Not only does Rhiannon Atkinson-Howatt (Merpire) have the coolest hair in Melbourne, but she also writes these amazing catchy, beautiful songs that are both sly and sweet. As a live performer she treads this perfect line of elegance and vulnerability, it’s genius. Don’t get me started on the production on Merpire songs, which she does alongside her producer and partner in crime James Seymour (Feelds), which due to some wizardry, always feels simultaneously airy and compact. The pair do a lot of the writing down in Anglesea, a seaside town down on the Great Ocean Road, which is probably my favourite place in the world, so that helps to strengthen my affinity with this project.
I fell really hard in love with The Smiths when I was about twelve or thirteen and it was Morrissey’s lyrics that really drew me in. It would take a little longer for me to truly appreciate the genius of Johnny Marr. I’m a real words person. I compulsively write down things that I like. I studied arts and loved it, I like poetry, I’m a cliché, sue me. It might have something to do with the fact that my musical obsession just before The Smiths was Fountains of Wayne, and although it is undeniable that their 2003 masterpiece Welcome Interstate Managers has forever shaped my musical education, in comparison, Morrissey’s words felt otherworldly and were a real awakening for me.
(I acknowledge that his public words and actions in recent times have been very problematic, and it’s something that I find both hard to wrap my head around and separate from my emotional attachment – I do feel a little betrayed).
My cousin Lilly dragged me along to a show at the Workers Club a few months ago because her friend Charlotte (Eliott) was playing, and I was like “Okay Lilly, whatever bro”. She’s always bossing me around. I won’t get into it. Anyway, we went and the room was completely packed, and Eliott had everyone captivated, but at the same time we were all completely heartbroken because her songs are emotionally draining in the best possible way. She has a few singles and an EP out but she’s got this song called ‘Circles’ that hasn’t been released yet, and I’ve been waiting for it like a steak dinner after I’ve skipped lunch. She’ll be Gwen Stefani and Adele big, I’m calling it.
I got really obsessed with M.I.A. after watching the documentary Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. which is about her life and came out last year. It’s about her rise to fame, and the music industry, and politics in Sri Lanka. It’s very very good, go watch it, I won’t spoil anything. However, in the film there is footage of Maya (M.I.A) writing a lot of music on drum machines. She has more than a dozen Roland 808s, it’s very funny. So I got really inspired by that and started making a lot of my own beats on computers and a few drum machines that we have at our studio, Taste Police. Something that I had never really done before. I haven’t started making dance bangers quite yet, but as a creative tool it’s been really liberating and it’s really changed the direction of a lot of the new music I’ve been writing for HARRIS.
Yergurl (Fae) is sort of like a young gangster Lana Del Rey, but if she was from Bendigo and played a lot of The Sims (I follow her on Instagram, she is very entertaining). She only has one song up on the overt streaming platforms (Spotify/Apple music etc), but if you are wily you can find a few more gems on her Soundcloud. The production is very homemade, stoned and dreamy, and reminds me of the early The 1975 EPs or early The Japanese House. I saw Fae play at the Gasometer upstairs in January of this year. She was opening the night, so the room was still pretty bare, however everyone that was there could tell that something pretty special was going on. Her twin sister plays live with her triggering samples and everything from the outfits to the dance moves was/were very considered. Really excited to see them play again soon.