Touring in support of his Breakthrough EP (released this week) Harts will be head to Amplifier on Friday, June 12; Settlers Tavern, Margaret River, on Saturday, June 13, and the Newport Hotel on Sunday, June 14. LUCY RUTHERFORD reports.
A one man music-making machine from Melbourne, Harts has big ambitions.
“I’d love to play with Stevie Wonder,” he says.
For Darren Hart, the man behind Harts, this dream is more than realistic than it sounds. Last year Prince himself heard his music and invited Hart to play with him.
“The Prince thing was such a big thing for me. Like that was a huge dream and once that happened all of a sudden dreams started to feel more like goals.”
It’s Hart’s mix of funk, soul and rock in singles such as Red & Blue and Lovers In Bloom from his debut album, Daydreamer, and his latest single, Breakthrough, that has got him such star attention. And also the fact that every instrument you hear on is played by Hart himself. But for someone so driven and musically ambidextrous, it’s surprising to hear that these musical ambitions arose relatively late.
“I got into music just for fun, when I was in high school and I was about 16. I didn’t really have an interest in it until I saw my friends playing guitar and drums and learning instruments. I got drum lessons and through the internet and books I was able to teach myself how to play guitar. It was more after I started learning an instrument that I actually started really liking music and appreciating music.”
Hart certainly has ambition now. Having released music almost every year since his first demo in 2010, his hard work has paid off having had opportunities to play not just Australia wide but world wide.
“I want my music to be an international thing because I don’t think it’s specifically an Australian sound,” he says.
“A lot of people in France really love me for my funk and disco stuff, whereas a lot of people in the UK really loved the old school indie rock stuff I was doing. I really want to explore those different genres and be one of those artists, like Prince and Stevie Wonder, where you can put out an awesome rock track and it can be a hit and you can also put out a funk track and it can be a hit.”
On Hart’s upcoming EP, Breakthrough, however, there is a distinctly more rock-driven sound compared to his previous work.
“I really wanted to hone and focus the specific sound with this EP more towards the rock direction,” he says.
“I really wanted to make sure that the EP was coherent and that it had a particularly branded Harts EP type sound as opposed to extending that over a full-length album and delving into different genres.
With Hart the sole performer on his records, the process of working out how to recreate his music live is tricky. Although for his upcoming tour he will be bringing a drummer along.
“You can’t really have the impact and the power from a drum machine that you can from a live drummer, so that was the first step in expanding my band,” he says.
“We spend a lot of time rehearsing. And I spend a lot of time figuring out loop machines and samples. It has been a bit of a challenge, but ultimately I think we got there.”
Hart’s tour takes him to all corners of Australia, finishing up with playing Splendour In The Grass in July.
“I’m super excited for Splendour, it’s one of the things I’m looking most forward to this year because I didn’t think I was going to get that opportunity. The buzz was building and my songs were getting on the radio but I thought it would probably take another year to get on a big festival like Splendour In The Grass. But I’m so glad it happened this year.”
He continues: “Some of the places I’m playing on this tour are places I’ve never been to. Some of those regional places there’s not a whole lot of bands that go there. And people are just so thankful that you come out and see their town and play for them. To see that real appreciation for what you’re doing is awesome.”