The Kite String Tangle performs at CoLAB this Saturday, November 29, at UWA and at Southbound on the weekend of January 3-4 at Sir Stewart Bovell Park Busselton. MEG CRAWFORD reports.
Danny Harley, better known as the producer and vocals behind the electronic chillwave dynamo The Kite String Tangle, is simultaneously chuffed and stunned by his success.
What’s gone down for him in the last year is the stuff that dreams are made for most musicians. A quick overview of the last 12 months reveals that The Kite String Tangle’s debut single, Given The Chance, came in at number 19 on triple j’s Hottest 100, he played two sold-out tours nationally, performed at SXSW and Coachella and played one of this year’s hottest sets at Splendour In The Grass. If that wasn’t enough, then there’s the fact that Harley’s much anticipated debut EP, Vessel, has just been released
“I’m pretty excited,” he says in a rush. “This whole week has pretty much been about the EP. We even had a listening party last night. There’s a bit of buzz, but also a lot of nervousness. Inevitably there’s gonna be a few people who don’t like it. That can’t be helped. I’m excited but nervous is the shorthand answer!”
Harley is the first to admit that he’s blown away by The Kite String Tangle’s phenomenal success. “I’m definitely a bit stunned by it all,” he reflects. “Especially because it kind of happened in an unusual way. My first track came out (Given The Chance) and it got a few positive reviews, but then for two months afterwards absolutely nothing happened! Finally, triple j gave it some traction and it just slowly gained momentum. It was gradual, but it just kept getting to new heights, which was amazing.”
“Then I did a tour and the shows were selling out and then I did another tour and that time 100 per cent of the shows sold out. The rooms I was playing were getting bigger and bigger too. At various points I was asking myself – what’s going on?”
In fact, Harley describes the success surge as “crazy”. He’s managing it by staying humble and taking things in his stride. “I’m trying to be reactive and just take it as it comes,” he puts carefully. “I’m trying to fully embrace it and run with it,” which sounds like a good recipe for living in general.
In part, folks are in love with The Kite String Tangle because of the lyrics. Although Harley works on them last, they’re beautiful and touch all sorts of personal chords. Lyrically and thematically, he’s influenced by the things and people around him. That doesn’t necessarily translate to his songs being autobiographical, though. “Well, they are to a degree, but I try to write in a way that it’s relatable to others. I don’t want it to be too whingey and all about me!”
Relatable is almost an understatement; fans are captivated by The Kite String Tangle. Harley now watches people sing his lyrics and get The Kite String Tangle tatts. It’s this degree of support that’s taking him aback.
“It’s totally surreal,” he laughs. “It’s weird, in a good way, because of how quickly everything happened last year and the way that people have embraced me – it’s almost insane! And that tattoo thing was crazy! I almost can’t relate just yet to that level of support.”
Harley’s lyrics are also a little nostalgic, but he accepts that he’s a nostalgic dude full-stop. “Definitely,” he admits. “I mean, when I was growing up we were in the UK and Australia. We were moving all the time. So now, when it’s hot or cold, well all of these memories get triggered by temperature and smell. That gets me, you know?”
None of this has happened overnight though and Harley has certainly slogged hard to get here. Just looking at his touring schedule for the last year is knackering. “It’s actually, for the last month, not been that bad,” he says. “There’ve been a lot of rehearsals and PR commitments. It’s when you’re doing all of that and you’re on tour as well that it gets hard.”
That seems to be consistent with Harley’s work ethic generally speaking. He really doesn’t cut himself much slack. The EP has only just been released, but he’s already started work on an album and he’s got some pretty pragmatic views on how it has to unfold. “Yeah, the album is something that I’ve always wanted to do. I also want to make sure that I have a really cool body of work and that I’m going to be happy to play the songs for the next couple of years, because in practical terms, that’s what I’m gonna have to do.”
Is it all getting too much? Earlier in the week Harley wrote on Facebook that he “(felt) like a radical lifestyle change.” “No,” he laughs. “I wrote that when I was just coming back from Splendour and seriously, I was not quite human. You know what it’s like. At the time I was writing that I was convinced that I needed to have a healthier lifestyle. Maybe I shouldn’t have written it. Whoops. It’s nothing serious.”
Good – for those who were concerned, we can be assured that Harley’s here for the long haul.