There aren’t too many young artists beginning a solo career who would be confident enough to debut with two singles at the same time. Then again, there are few young artists coming from such a considerable musical legacy (I’ll give you one guess) as Kiwi singer-songwriter Harper Finn.
Forging his own path in the music industry at 21 years of age, Finn immediately made himself known earlier this year when he released both ‘Teenage Queen’ and ‘Conversations (With The Moon)’, two vastly different singles, off the back of signing with Warner Music. Both are polarised in sound, in perspective, and in style.
Check out Harper Finn’s ‘Teenage Queen’ and ‘Conversations (With The Moon)’ below:
Though as opposed as they may be, both singles are unified in the sense that they highlight a refreshingly introspective, deeply expressive voice trying to make sense of his own experiences and the experiences of those around him, as he breaks into his 20s and looks back on his teenage years.
Mining the shadowy, exploratory textures of modern alt-pop and dressing it with incredible detail, Finn showcases a vital approach to piano-driven music that has no doubt been formulated from a worldly musical upbringing.
As much of a fan of Serge Gainsbourg as he is The Clash, Finn grew up largely drawing influences from his very musically-inclined mother.
“I really don’t know a life without music,” Finn told Tone Deaf ahead of his very first Australian show at Sydney’s The Newsagency.
“Because of my parents and the family I’m from, it’s more like it’s just been my normal. Becoming a musician is my own journey, but just the idea of loving and appreciating music deeply is something I’ve had since I can remember”.
Finn recalled a youth spent absorbing all kinds of music from his mother, pushing away from the tendency of kids that young to go against their parents’ taste.
“My mum especially opened me up to a world of music that I wouldn’t have found otherwise at that age. I just had a thorough music education as a kid and I consider myself pretty lucky for that”.
Opening Finn’s perspective further was his surprising foray into hip hop just a few years ago, a sprawling eight-deep crew for which he was the keyboard player. And it’s this experience, moving towards a better understanding of hip hop music, that he occasionally comes back to as a reference for his own material.
“The sort of freedom hip hop has to go anywhere, do anything, and reference any kind of music is something I find really inspiring,” he says.
“It’s very hard to categorise a lot of music these days – I think that is definitely a result from hip hop, and being in that band taught me that any kind of idea of genre or boundaries in a song should be broken down.”
For Harper, this move towards more freedom in contemporary music is liberating and has led to more artists giving the truest and most authentic version of themselves. Harper himself is, of course, no exception as both ‘Teenage Queen’ and ‘Conversations’ bring something very human, reflexive and relatable to a pocket of modern pop often overwhelmed with garish lyrics and edgy quips.
“I’ve found that when there’s time or distance between something I can identify the truth in a situation a bit more. I can understand it better,” Finn explains when asked about whether or not he prefers this style of introspective songwriting.
“Although I’m wanting to write more songs that are more like immediate reactions to things that have happened, that’s a side I’ve not yet explored”.
Releasing both singles at the same time “as an A and B side kind of thing”, Finn wanted them to contrast to throw people off a bit so they wouldn’t necessarily know his sound, or which direction he was going.
While so far media have pegged him as art pop/moody pop/alt pop (or whatever else you want to call it), there’s a clear desire to explore and a deep reverence for the wide range of music that he was exposed to growing up.
“I know I’m yet to write my best song,” Finn speaks on the future of his very young career. “Time is on my side, and I’m very much looking forward to the songs I’m going to be writing in five years, and where I’ll be playing.”
Harper Finn has just released new single ‘Good For Me’, check it out below.