Alt-pop/folk duo HARLOR is the up-and-coming indie act that needs to be on your radar. Fast making a name for themselves for their fresh yet polished sound, HARLOR specializes in dreamy, heartfelt vocals backed by an infectious, melody-driven production style. Today, the duo – consisting of lead vocalist Nick Gerard and producer Max Anthony – returns with their scintillating debut EP, Letters To An X.
While their debut arrived in 2020 with the fantastic “Not Ready To Go,” it was their first single of 2021 “Heart Games” that felt like an immediate game-changer. If you can listen to that song and not be an immediate fan, you’re an absolute exception. Ahead of their six-track EP, Nick and Max released one last teaser, “As A Dream,” swiftly leading the rising act beyond the one million cumulative stream mark. One of many accomplishments on the horizon for this must-hear act.
Featuring three previously unheard songs, Letters To An X delves into the many moods of a dying relationship, fearlessly bringing feelings of longing and loss to the forefront like on smashing track “Skeleton.” This flawlessly crafted project finds the unique ability to make vulnerability and pain look and sound inviting. Though the EP is designed to be listened to from end to end, each song also serves as a stand-alone, welcoming its listeners into a very intimate passage of heartbreak and grief throughout its various lovelorn stages.
Though relative newcomers to the scene, HARLOR has already started to carve a notable path. Early on, they caught the attention of renowned production duo Katalyst (Bruno Mars, Eminem, Drake), who, recognizing their immense talents, signed them to a production deal. In addition to their prowess in the studio, the duo has shown their potential as a live act, having recently virtually performed a must-watch set for TIDAL and featured at the Channel Sounds: Still Isolated Festival.
Ahead of their EP release, yesterday, June 24th, lead vocalist Nick Gerard took over the Soundazed Instagram to go track-by-track with fans and viewers. If you missed it, watch the incredible experience here. Now, to celebrate the release of Letters To An X, I connect once more with HARLOR to learn more about their background and current project.
How did HARLOR first meet, and how did each member’s music sense influence what we hear now?
Max and I met in our freshman dorm at the University of Dayton. I looked up to artists such as Ed Sheeran and John Mayer as I developed my productions and songwriting while Max was producing a sound resembling artists like The Chainsmokers. We married the two directions to have pop productions on singer/songwriter stories while also finding new artists we both were inspired by, such as Jon Bellion and Twenty-One Pilots.
We’re connecting as you release your debut EP, Letters To An X. What influenced the new music, and what elements went into making it sonically?
As a songwriter, the influence was internal struggle with past relationships. I’ve been a villain and a victim of my life’s love stories. Some of these songs explore that as a way of coping and/or getting perspective. However, not all the songs on the EP are about love, and not all the love songs need to be interpreted like that; that’s up to the listener. Sonically, we aimed to keep organic elements like guitars, pianos, acapella, etc., present while diving into the pop drums and synths. We’re at an interesting time in music where there aren’t many bounds for genres anymore, and we wanted to explore that. That being said, I think the development through this EP made clear how we want to move forward sonically.
Did working on this EP during a pandemic change its sonic outcome at all?
Not so much the EP itself, but our overall music-making vibe got darker since the pandemic started. There are many songs made during this pandemic that you haven’t heard yet that were more directly affected by the 2020 world than the EP songs.
Was there a particular part of the creative process you enjoyed most? Why?
I think our favorite part of the creative process is to crack a beer in the studio and just make music as we did in college; make music for us, not anyone else. It might not sound like “part of the creative process” as much as “changing the creative process,” but sometimes the “creative process” makes you hate the thing you love cause we feel too much pressure to be anything but mundane.
Do you have a favorite song on the EP?
Our favorite song on this EP is a track called “Be Well.” There’s a dichotomy in this record that we love. It is the most upbeat and happy-sounding song on the EP yet has the darkest subject matter. In this pandemic, depression has risen so much in our youth cause we’ve been isolated from each other. Max and I definitely struggled more with it than we have before, and I just wanted to cut the bullshit for 3 minutes and say exactly what I was feeling. One of the darkest lines I’ve ever written, but my favorite, is in this song; “that forty-five’s on my mind, but it send me to hell, I just want to be well.” You don’t want to turn out the lights, but you feel so sick and just want to feel better. The song bounces back and forth from external observation of others that are ill and an internal conversation combatting your own illness. It’s a coping and a calling for us to help each other fight this growing sickness we feel.
What’s next for HARLOR?
I’d be lying if I said I knew. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, colonial soldiers were told not to fire on the British until they “see the white of their eyes” so they wouldn’t waste their shot. We thought we knew what’s next, but the truth is we’ll know it when we see the white of its eyes.
Stream Letters To An X
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