In a time where young artists are manufactured to suit radio airplay and mainstream profits, genuine songwriters are becoming a rare breed. Joel Harrison, a 28 year old singer/songwriter/vocal coach from regional Australia is an artist who blends a vast range of influences including Pop, Folk, Rock and Country into songs that describe and invite listeners into the personal moments and emotions of a singer songwriter’s life. We asked this Australia native a few questions about his music and his future plans as an artist!
What first attracted you to start singing and playing guitar?
The first memories I really have of music revolve around my Mothers love of John Farnham, a popular Australian singer who is in my opinion one of the greatest of all time. But after that the biggest WOW moment was seeing Marty McFly play Johnny B Goode in back to the future. I’ve recently read both Michael J Fox books and wrote a song about them called “Luckyman”…turns out both Michael and Marty are very inspirational guys.
How has the music scene of your hometown, Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia influenced you as a artist?
My hometown Wagga Wagga in Australia is primarily known as a sports town, but the top local musicians could hang with anyone in the world. I’ve been lucky enough to have several of them really take an interest in my music and help me out along the way. Playing with them is always fun and an honour and you’re really throwing yourself in the deep end…but forcing yourself to sink or swim is always a great thing.
Which artists would you say influence your style?
The two artists that really made me think “This is what I want to do” were John Mayer and Matchbox Twenty. After that I discovered Keith Urban,Jack Johnson, Sam Cooke, Diesel, James Taylor, Zac Brown Band and the list goes on. I listen to most styles of music and respect each genre for its own merits. I think most artists are Alchemists whether they realise it or not, they fail at becoming their idols and end up melting those influences into their own unique style.
What is your main inspiration for your lyrics?
As a singer songwriter I get asked a lot ‘how do you write songs?’ and ‘does the music or words come first?’. To be honest it really changes and the process and evolution is unique to each song. I have a vast list of notes in my phone at the moment, they normally start as one word or phrase and I’ll look at them from time to time to see if something sparks inspiration that day. Other times I will just play a specific guitar lick or chord sequence over and over and mumble a melody till something feels good. Songs to a songwriter can sometimes be very soothing. You think you’re not writing about anything in your life and after the song is finished or years later everything clicks and you realise how it represents a snapshot in time of your emotions.
If you could go on tour with any three artists, who would they be and why?
The answers to this question would change from day to day. Yes, these are also form a selfish point of view in that I could meet them and watch the show from side stage every night. Right now I’ll choose these three and sum up in a few words.
Keith Urban – Killer player, artist and entertainer. He’s Australian and seems like a top bloke!
John Mayer – Great songwriter and guitarist (so much tone), and he really started me along my path as a musician.
Zac Brown Band – These guys look like they have a party on stage every night, great songs and great players.
What was it like recording your latest EP “PoFoCo” with Golden Guitar winning producer, Matt Fell?
The process of recording this time was streamlined to say the least. We recorded everything at Love HZ studios in Sydney over two days. The last track off my debut album ‘Thinking Over, Over Thinking’ was titled ‘Time On Our Side’ and it really set the tone for how I wanted my new tracks to sound, and listening back to the final tracks I think we’ve nailed it. Matt was amazing and knew exactly what I was after at the time even when I didn’t. We went in with the objective of acoustic tracks with fairly simply production. However as you can hear the tracks are full of percussion, while not overpowering the acoustic live nature of the songs. All of the songs have 20 plus tracks of percussion which consist of toy drums, cajuns, brushes and even dropping car keys onto a desk. All in all the experience was great and I learnt a lot in a short amount of time.