Posted: May 21, 2017 in MUSIC
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New Zealand songwriter Aldous Harding released her new album, “Party”, .  Featuring the singles ‘Horizon’ and ‘Imagining My Man’, her second long-player has been universally applauded.  She will make her debut TV appearance next week, performing ‘Horizon’ on the BBC’s Later…with Jools Holland.

Party was produced with the award-winning John Parish (PJ Harvey, Sparklehorse) in his hometown of Bristol, taking Harding away from her New Zealand base for an intensive two-week immersion in the studio.  As well as a raft of musical contributions from Parish, Perfume Genius’ Mike Hadreas lends vocals to recent single ‘Imagining My Man’ and Party closer ‘Swell Does The Skull’.

Like her record, Harding speaks slowly, in deeply considered sentences, her chin perched on books as she smoked a cigarette. Harding’s roots are in New Zealand’s almost bizarrely fertile folk scene — a former roommate, Nadia Reid, has also drawn international eyes — but some time early in the creation of the songs for Party, something shifted, she says. Going over the record song-by-song, Harding says that the turning point arrived while she was writing what would become the album’s title track, a song with that slowly swells into a chorus that cracks its shell of restraint, emerging as something almost operatic. “When I heard the chorus [of ‘Party’] in my head I kind of went, ‘I don’t know if I’m allowed to do that,'” she says. “I’ve done something different, and it feels much better. Fits better. And I… went for it, by the sounds of it,” she laughs. “I just got stuck in it, Party’s velvet-soft sound is a bedding for a gifted weapon-of-a voice. Harding puts on so many masks throughout the album — the shriek, the sullen smoker, the concerned love — but there’s something calmly self-assured behind the costume changes. She’s always wearing the same shirt. As we spoke, she thought aloud that, maybe, the record is a document of self-imposed isolation in some way, a reckoning with ambition and the costs of trying deeply. Have you ever exiled yourself in order to try and be completely yourself and see what magic may come of it?.

Imagining My Man 

“It’s just about all of the… tender and frightening thoughts that come with being in love. And growing up, and trying to figure out what the hell it is that you want. And trying to love another person, when you’re constantly pushing your own plate away, isn’t easy. It’s no one’s fault, that’s just how it happens sometimes. You’ve just got to ride it out.”


“Good-bye — and not necessarily for any reason at all other than… I’ve got to go. I’m showing that person two things; their life, and their life with me. And I’m taking one of them away. And that’s me.

“In a lot of ways it was me choosing art over a person, which I didn’t necessarily know at the time. And feeling like, in order to do it how I need to do it, I need to be on my own. There are people who like to sit at a dining table with six other people and listen to John Coltrane, [Blue] Train and pour wine. I love that too, but I’m the kind of person who if you give me a plate of food, you give me money or… alcohol…. I want to take it in to the dark on my own, so no one has to see how I approach it. Maybe that’s an insecurity, I don’t know. I don’t feel particularly insecure about it.”

Swell Does The Skull

“Yeah, it’s closer to the first record in the sense that it’s got that kind of… back. It’s not so… modern. It’s got an arc. There’s still an archaic fume to that one.”

What If Birds Aren’t Singing They’re Screaming

“The song is quite humorous, but at the same time I think it’s kind of Randy Newman-esque — there’s like, a deep sadness inside that jolly sound.

“For like four or five months of my life I was too scared to like, move around and reach out for things because I was worried that I’d my hands would run into glass, like I could reach up and if I reached up and knocked on the air it would make a noise. I couldn’t look at the sky because I was worried that I see a crack. And like, light would start to come. Not nice light — like, someone else’s sunlight. I didn’t like that.

“It was pretty… rough, coming up with it. Because questions like that are what keep people frightened. Not trusting that things are real. This is stuff you think about when you do drugs, this is the stuff that will drive you nuts. I guess that’s why I kept it kind of upbeat and humorous, because I don’t want to frighten people, just wanted to remind them that that’s normal. And it’s real — as real as the stuff you worry isn’t. And just don’t f****** worry about it. Because at the end of the day it’s actually quite funny.”

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