Alternative Electronic Pop/R&B Singer-Songwriter and Producer Austin Harms recently released his exceptional debut EP titled “Blood”. The album takes us on a heart squeezing expedition of haunting experimental soundscapes echoing the anguish Harms voice emits in every note he sings. Armed with his extensive vocal range that can go from a laidback sing/talk flow style to a overwhelming soulful cry, Harms deep dives into the world of grief and despair as he faces his inner demons. I had the great pleasure of speaking with the California Native about his music beginnings, his musical motivations to his therapeutic songwriting process of “Blood.”

Origins

Harms is a 24 year old who grew up in Visalia, California with a father who was a pastor. At an early age, Harms discovered his passion for playing drums and music production. However, he wouldn’t take music seriously until he turned 20. As fate would have it, turning 20 would result in a devastating blow to Harms that would change the course of his life; “My dad was diagnosed with brain cancer and passed away when I was 20. That sort of woke me up to how short life is and made me realize that there’s no point in not doing what I love. I’ve been really writing music since then.”

At first listen, Harms’ music is hard to place on a single music category or genre, Harms has difficulty labeling his music calling it a blend of alternative electronic. “People have been comparing me to EDEN a lot since the EP dropped. I don’t think about genres much though; it stresses me out.” His music is a magnetic genre bending exploration of vulnerable sounds that steal the listener’s attention with his enthralling vocal range that oozes unstoppable fearless emotion with gutsy storytelling.

Blood Recording Sessions 

Harms found comfort in songwriting and began writing “Blood”, he recalls the beginning stages of writing the project: ”I didn’t know what the EP was gonna be before I wrote it, I just knew I needed to write something, so the inspiration came mostly from just being really depressed and low and needing a way to express it and try to process it outside of my head.” 

Harms recorded the EP in his bedroom isolated with blackout curtains, he describes being isolated for hours on end, writing and recording. “I’m a perfectionist and there were a lot of really frustrating days of having “not good enough” ideas or recording the same vocal 50 times until I wanted to punch a hole in the wall. BUT there were also a lot of cathartic days where everything fell into place, and those were really great days.”

The EP begins with the mystical love ode, “Moon” the most lighthearted of the song collection and the most effortless to write, Harms explains, “MOON” was probably my favorite song to write. I was in love and shit, driving back to LA from my hometown in the middle of the night when the idea just sort of came to me in my car. When I got to my apartment at 4 or 5 in the morning I grabbed my ukulele and wrote the song in like 20 minutes and it was super corny, but I’m never able to write songs that fast so I was stoked. I didn’t do the final recording of that one until about a year later though.”

Photo Credit: Chad Saechao

Harms says the most challenging part of creating this new project was letting go of the aspiration of making perfect project; “Honestly the biggest challenge for me was getting over myself and getting to a point where I was comfortable releasing it. I’m really insecure about the music I make sometimes which gets in the way when I’m writing too.” The most difficult tracks for Harms to write were “All I Know/Out My Mind” and “SummerTime”. The former is 2 song track that take it’s listeners on a journey to a hypnotic distorted reality with demons spinning out of control as Harms hangs on a single thread of resistance to stay a float from the darkest depths of depression. The latter comes to terms with the death of his father sharing deeply heart shattering details of how grief swallowed him completely; “Writing “ALL I KNOW” and “SUMMERTIME” was really hard – it took me months to figure out how to say what I was trying to say and I was just dwelling on those painful feelings in the process.” Harms says creating those tracks gave him a sense of achievement ”Being able to be like, “I did that”. And then hearing from people who listened and were moved by it – crazy.”

The EP’s titled track oozes hope, encourages to find your own strength, accept the pain that has solidified inner depths of your core while battling the powerful demons. Harms describes his sense of accomplishment when he wrote “Blood”, “I think my favorite song to record was “BLOOD” because the majority of it happened in one day, which again is really rare for me. I wrote the songs in order and that was the last one, so the whole project sort of fell into place that day and I remember being really excited.”

The “Blood” EP doesn’t hold back on shining on a spotlight on illustrating the emotional aftermath of losing a significant other, giving a sense of community to those who can relate,”Initially I was just writing how I felt because it’s sort of like therapy for me, but then it got more and more personal and I realized I had to keep going. There was definitely an internal battle with some of it – like the verse of “SUMMERTIME” – that was like “this is too intense” or “you can’t show this to anybody/nobody is gonna like this”, but once I finished I knew I had to put it out. There’s always the hope that, just maybe, somebody who needs to hear it will hear it.” Music serves as a form of therapy for Harms, he aspires his listeners can find solace through his music; “Music has honestly been my best friend during some really low periods of my life. Certain songs and albums have found me in my lowest points and helped me get through things that I couldn’t see a way out of. If people can connect with my songs and find comfort in them in ANY type of way at all – that’s all I can hope for.”

Challenges & Motivation

Harms confesses his artists friends serve as a massive source of artistic motivation,m; ”My friends motivate the shit out of me! TRACES & INTRN are must-listens. I’ve been on a huge J. Cole kick lately, possibly my favorite lyricist right now. Always Frank Ocean, SZA. There’s this dude named Vasser that’s really incredible too. There’s so many though. Jon Bellion too.”

Being an artist is not an easy career and there is constant ups and downs. ”There’s a lot of things you have to navigate and I’m still learning what those are. There’s definitely a lot of resistance at times, and a ton of self-doubt. Hot pockets get old pretty quick too – the only good flavor is the pizza one.” Harms offers his advice for anyone who aspires to be an artist,m, ”Don’t try to be anyone other than yourself. Only you can make the music that you can make, if that makes sense. People might not invest in you or encourage you until they see you succeed, but that’s okay. Don’t get too caught up in the “talented or not talented” trap. Nothing is black and white, and talent only goes so far.” Harms further clarifies, “Most people are really really bad at something before they’re good at it. So now that you’re out of excuses, put the work in.”

Harms’ future seems infinitely bright with his out of this world music production and transparent storytelling to enamour his listeners for years to come. We concluded our interview, Harms shares his immediate future plans, “More of everything. More music. More pain, more love, more growth. Developing a live show. Traveling. Therapy. A LOT more music.”

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Main Photo Credit: Tim Dehnert