Indie music songwriter, artist, producer Austin Harms reveals an complex picturesque story with his new single, “cedar lane” an unspeakable look at the dark sides of battling depression. Experiencing the track for the first time, the unsettling music production hints at the turbulent ride awaiting while Harms builds up the tension with woeful vocals squeezing your chest, making it hard to focus on anything but the sorrow in every note of the song.
“cedar Lane” marks the turning point for Harms musically, lyrically as he pulls out even more tricks from his sleeve, sketching a overwhelming portrayal of what looking inside yourself feels like while being stuck in an episode of depression. Harms is not one to shy away from pointing a blinding spotlight to the burdensome process of facing yourself, dealing with past trauma you have carried on your shoulders for many years.
We were lucky enough to catch up with the multi-faceted artist in a mist of the release of the new single where we spoke about the importance of creating stories from the most vulnerable place, bringing awareness to those who are battling their own struggles that they are not alone and how “cedar lane” was a vital track to reevaluate his approach to making music going forward.
“cedar lane” is an eerie vivid piece, the smokiness leaking from the music production feels like the calm before the storm headed your way in full force. As the storm gains power, your body begins deciding between in fight or flight mode, the easiest choice is to run but you are too exhausted to move, so instead you do the most scariest thing, wait for the storm to find you and fight. When we spoke with Harms about what the new track meant to him, he shared a terrifying personal story about one of the darkest moments set in a cabin in the mountains on a street named cedar lane. “Cedar Lane was a street where I stayed in a cabin for a few days. I remember being an absolute emotional wreck over some stuff that was going on in my life at the time. I was in the midst of a depressive episode & couldn’t see a way out. Something pushed me to go on a trip by myself. I was terrified to be truly alone but felt like that was something I needed, so I booked a cabin for a few days in the mountains and turned off my phone. I started writing this song while I was up there.”
“cedar lane” oozes artistic growth. The song can be received as both a emotional message to one’s inner self and to someone who abandoned you, Harms recalls his desire to write from his most exposing place using it as an outlet to release the feelings he could not speak of, “One of the main forces behind writing this project was my desire to write from my most vulnerable place, as challenging as that was for me. I didn’t know how to talk about what I was going through at the time and felt like I was going through everything alone. The goal was to put those feelings into songs to reach people that felt a similar way in hopes that they would feel less alone. With all that said I didn’t really go into this song with any specific plan in mind for what to write – it sort of came from me expressing what I was feeling and making sense of it as I wrote.”
The recording sessions for “cedar lane” began in the cabin as the inspiration bloomed for Harms on the first few days but eventually would hit a roadblock that would take years to work around, “At the start, a lot of the production/melody stuff just poured out of me. It was my first or second night in the cabin and all the pent up stuff was coming out in the music. After that it was rare that I made any progress on it. I spent a lot of time blocked, trying to figure out the lyrics. I would get it as far as I possibly could and then have to walk away for a few months and work on something else. That went on for a couple years and so many iterations of the song that I lost track – then several moments where I thought it was done and showed it to friends and they helped me realize it wasn’t. I was changing things and adding stuff almost up to the point where it was time to mix.”
Harms is no stranger to writing music that touches people in some form. From the beginning of his artistic career he has set the example of speaking about the intricate parts of battling depression with an overwhelming energy of a silver lining awaiting beneath the dark surface. “cedar lane” shows Harms as naked as he has ever been, his vocals are swimming with a quiet bravery on a haunting production displaying unseen facets of his artistry. It is important for Harms to speak on painful moments endured as he faces his inner struggles while being in therapy for his listeners to relate to; “When I was writing ‘Silver Coins’ & ‘BLOOD’, I was using the music as my only outlet for self-expression. Once I started going to therapy, it became a place for me to work through stuff outside of the songs, and still within the songs as well. Somewhere during that shift I decided I was going to write a project for the listener rather than for myself. Something that was as vulnerable as I could make it for the sake of letting people know they’re not alone.”
The track was a turning point of sorts for Harms even though he admits he is continuing to work on finding self peace, “At the time I was just desperate to feel better. I needed to express myself. And while it was a crucial point in my journey, I’m still not there yet.” Harms confesses it’s a challenge to go back and relive those emotions, “It’s definitely challenging but is part of the healing process for me.” When bad days hit, it can be tough to stay in a positive space, Harms shares he spends time in solitude. “Usually I spend time alone to recharge. I’m an introvert. But as far as bringing myself back to the positive space, I’m not sure. I’m still figuring that out.” As we conclude our chat, I asked Harms if making “cedar lane” taught him anything about himself, “Oh yeah. A lot of the lyrics, particularly in the chorus, sort of just…happened. And then I looked at them and was like, “oh shit, I guess that’s how I feel”. Harms’ future appears full of endless possibilities and artistic growth. As anticipation builds for the release of his forthcoming EP, Harms leaves us with his hope for his music project,”Just hoping it connects with those who need it.”
Watch the music video for “cedar lane” below:
Photo Credit: Chad Saechao