Harriet in conversation with FAULT Magazine

Today we catch up with Harriet. With her highly anticipated second album, ‘The Outcome,’ set to release on May 12th, Harriet’s story of determination and female empowerment is one that will inspire many. From overcoming bullying at school to taking risks in London to pursue her dreams as a musician, Harriet’s journey has been anything but easy. Her passion for music and her golden voice shine brighter than ever on her latest album, which features her new single, ‘Story of Your Life.’

Can you tell us a little about your journey to becoming a musician, and what inspired you to pursue music as a career?

So many of the best moments in my life have involved music. Every home video there is of me as a kid has me singing away in the background. I remember dancing around the living room with my little sister to Paul McCartney. Fleetwood Mac blasting through the speakers at family BBQs… Music has just always been everywhere. I did a lot of am-dram stuff when I was a at school and recorded an album of covers when I was 13. My dad had one of those 4 track tape recorders, which I was always playing around with at home, writing and recording songs and playing around with ideas. I loved it. In my teens, I found my way into a jazz band, which was my first experience of performing as an ‘artist’ as such. We wrote our own songs and were gigging all the time. I’d say this is where I really learnt to perform and connect with an audience. I love people and when a relationship is established through a song between two strangers (the performer and the crowd), it’s so powerful. The idea that I might be capable of moving people in the way that artists I love move me, really drew me into wanting to pursue music as a career. I moved to London when I was about 20 years old and met some guys in the industry who encouraged me to write my own songs again, which I did out of my tiny rented room in Fitzrovia. They introduced me to the idea of collaborating with other writers and producers and I slowly became more in touch with myself as an artist in terms of what I wanted to say. Now, a few years on, there is still nothing else I want to do more than make music and tour.

Your new album ‘The Outcome’ has been a long time in the making. How does it feel to finally have it ready for release, and what can listeners expect from it?

I feel both excited and a bit anxious about finally releasing it. The process of songwriting is so cathartic for me, and before you release something out into the world, it’s just yours, like a kind of secret… But The Outcome is about to become everyone’s now, which is what it’s all about really, so I can’t wait for people to hear it! There are some fun moments on the album; uplifting, feel-good songs. And these are interspersed amongst some more melancholy, reflective moments. I wanted to share more of myself on this record than I did on my first album, in the hope that it might uplift people and make them feel less alone with whatever they are going through. I think that people will get to know me a bit more through the music on this album. There is light and shade. It’s a colourful record.

The first single from your album, ‘Story of Your Life’, has been described as a dance-pop earworm. Can you talk a bit about the inspiration behind the song and what it means to you?

The lyric is a message I feel we could all do with hearing sometimes. I wrote the song as a letter to my younger self. Looking back, I wish I had spent less time worrying about everything… about myself, about people I love, mistakes I’d made, what the consequences might be of certain decisions made etc. We have to give ourselves a break sometimes and let it be. Story Of Your Life is about finding strength in the tougher experiences you face, and learning to accept all the parts of yourself, knowing that even the more vulnerable parts can really empower you if you look at things from a different perspective. I really hope the song encourages people and makes them feel good!

Your music has been compared to that of Karen Carpenter and other singer-songwriters from the 70s. Who are some of your biggest musical influences, and how do they inspire your work?

I grew up listening to my parents’ record collection. While it was quite an eclectic mix, it very much centred around this singer-songwriter era. I love the likes of Carole King, ABBA, The Eagles, The Carpenters, Elton John… And when I was a kid, I wanted to be Ella Fitzgerald and Britney Spears, on the same day! I have always been drawn to great, distinctive voices. I would copy Ella Fitzgerald’s scatting repeatedly as a girl, making my own mixtapes of my favourite vinyl records using a double cassette deck, and listening to them on my Walkman. The Outcome has been hugely inspired by the music that has come out of Sweden as I recorded the whole album in Stockholm. I love the prolific creative spirit of the city! Max Martin’s songs were the soundtrack to most of my childhood and probably made up 70% of my school disco DJ’s playlist! And my mum had an ABBA Gold CD that we had on repeat in her car for months on end. I am so inspired by ABBA’s ability to produce songs that are so deeply emotional and often sad, yet make us want to sing along and get up and dance. It’s unique. So it made sense that I make an album in Sweden. Swedish pop music was pumped into me from a young age!

You’ve said that ‘The Outcome’ is a more vulnerable album but in an empowering way. Can you elaborate on what you mean by that?

I’ve learnt a lot about myself during the making of this album. There is so much focus on positivity out there, and I think it does us good to get in touch with the parts of us that are more vulnerable. I used to be that person who puts on a sparkling smile even if I was having a bad day, but more recently, I do this less and less. Fortunately, there is a real movement in support of this now, encouraging us to embrace the bad days, the tears, all the parts of ourselves. It’s taken me a long time to get comfortable with this, but digging deeper to get those really special lyrics is so worth the struggle and once the song is written, and I’m singing it over and over, it seems like less of a mountain to climb! I suppose it’s a kind of therapy.  

You managed the album campaign for ‘The Outcome’ yourself. What was that experience like, and what challenges did you face in doing so?

I’ve had help from my amazing team, but yes, pulling all the pieces together and managing the various relationships and moving parts involved has presented its challenges. I’m such a perfectionist, so it’s hard for me to delegate. I also don’t like being a burden on others, so end up doing a lot of things myself. I should probably work on that, but I’m only human! So much more is expected of artists these days than just being a musician, which can be hard work, but I’ve learnt a lot and am grateful for every bit of the journey.

You’ve expressed parts of yourself on this album that you didn’t feel comfortable doing a few years ago. How have you grown as an artist since your first record, and what has influenced that growth?

I’m fortunate to have been able tour a lot since the release of my first album a few years ago. This has played a huge role in making me feel more comfortable with who I am as a person and an artist. Sharing stories with an audience through my songs and meeting people on tour who connect with my music makes everything so real and so worth it! I feel completely myself when I’m on stage. I don’t really hold back or put on an act. I’m the same person day-to-day as I am in front of an audience. When people respond to this and connect with you, it makes you feel good about what you’re doing. Making The Outcome in Stockholm also influenced me a lot in terms of exploring new subjects and sounds. Everyone who I’ve collaborated with on this record made me feel like I could do anything when we were creating together. We didn’t discard something until we’d tried it out. I felt limitless, not pigeonholed. We are insecure beings, really. Sometimes you just need to hear someone you trust say, go for it!

Your new album features collaborations with a number of accomplished songwriters. How did you go about selecting these collaborators, and what was the writing process like?

I was encouraged to go to Sweden as my A&R has great connections out there. I worked first with Jocke Olovsson and Pär Westerlund, who I wrote the album’s title track with, and also Nothing Hurts Like You and Burn. We hit it off instantly and I loved their fresh approach to producing my vocals and the songs. After these initial few days in the studio with them in Stockholm, I didn’t want to leave! From there, I met my other collaborators on the album and everything just came together. The process is different for me with different people. I wanted this album to be a progression from my first but didn’t know how or what the direction should be. I made a point of not preparing too much for the sessions as I wanted to be inspired by the ideas of all these great new creative people I was working with. I had a bit of a fan-girl moment working with Jörgen Elofsson. He has written for Britney Spears, Celine Dion, and worked with Agnetha (ABBA) on her most recent solo album. I’m so happy to have a song with him on The Outcome. And Anders Hansson who produced several songs on my album has become one of my favourite people to be in the studio with. We were so in the zone with recording vocals for songs, Heartbreak Holiday and Real, we worked late into the night to get them all down! Those days are the best!

You’ll be embarking on a UK headline tour this summer. What can fans expect from your live shows, and what do you enjoy most about performing live?

I love touring and am so excited to be going on the road again! I feel that songs don’t really come to life until you play them live. It’s the ultimate way to connect with supporters of my music. Until you go on tour and meet the fans in person, they are numbers, streams, and plays! Nothing beats sharing a moment together, being in the same room, and connecting through the music. It’s so special. For this tour, we will obviously be playing songs from my new album, but also some reworked versions of tracks from my previous record, and some special surprises! I recently completed a big UK tour with just my keyboardist. It was a very stripped-back, intimate show. This upcoming tour will be with my full band, so it’s going to be a completely different experience for both me and the audience. I can’t wait to hear what everyone’s favourite songs are from the new album!

Looking ahead, what are your plans and goals for the future of your music career?

I’d love the opportunity to tour outside of the UK. I’m lucky to have fans in Europe, America, Asia and beyond! It would be great to go and meet them in person. I have already started working on my next project. Another album, maybe an EP, I’m not sure yet! But the songs feel good, so I look forward to what the universe has planned for them. 

What is your FAULT?

I am a self-confessed people-pleaser. I hate letting people down and am not great at setting boundaries that would help me to manage this better. Key topic for Album #3 perhaps!