Brisbane-based electronic pop act The Kite String Tangle has been smoothly riding a wave of success and influence over the Australian music scene. Few artists can boast the heights of success that the ARIA nominated Danny Harley has achieved, from consecutive features in the Triple J Hottest 100 to multiple sell out shows in support of a killer new sound, his music is saturated in spirit and emphatically emotional. The triple threat producer, vocalist and newly found owner of his own record label Exit. Recordings, Danny Harley sat down with SARAH DAY to unravel the details of a big year ahead following the release of his long awaited and ambitious self-titled debut album.
What are your feelings about the release of your debut album?
A bit nervous but I’m pretty excited, it’s been a long time coming. I’ve been working on it for ages so to actually have the release date is awesome. I feel like I just need to put it out so that I can mentally move on from it as well.
How did TKST first come about for you as a project?
Well, I used to be in bands; I was in an electro-rock party band and that was super fun, but I was writing music that was more introspective and a little bit more down-tempo, which really wasn’t suited for that. Eventually I just had so much of it that I decided to release some, you know just uploading it onto (triple j) Unearthed, blogs all that stuff and then I gathered some momentum and moved onto that.
You’ve performed at a number of massive gigs like Splendour In The Grass and Parklife, how do these stack up to your more intimate gigs? Do you have a preference?
Well, I think they both offer different things. The smaller ones — like venue shows — you can get a more intimate connection with the crowd, which feels a bit more special. I think that the people who attend them really feel like they’re a part of something special, as do I as the performer. With the festival, it’s just the whole thing. Everyone’s so pumped and the atmosphere is so crazy that I think you get a lot more of the people that are bringing their friends to a show and you know, people just walking past and stopping; so you get those that may not have danced, dancing. At a festival it’s just a whole different energy, so while it’s not necessarily as intimate or you might not feel like you’re individually connecting with that artist, you’re having a really good time regardless.
How are you feeling about returning to play Splendour this year?
It’s awesome, me and my friend were having a chat about this recently actually because it’s kind of like the Coachella of Australia. This is the third time I’ve got to play it. I got to play it with a previous band just as like the opening slot as this super young thing and then I got to play it as The Kite String Tangle a few years ago and now I’m getting to play it again. I don’t know, I just feel really lucky to get to do it three times.
Is there anyone on the line up that your especially keen to catch?
The xx and Bonobo, I swear this line up… it’s like it’s made for me. I also love Sigur Rós and so that’s another one.
Who are you enjoying listening to on the music scene at the moment?
Well I just listened to music the entire plane trip; I always listen to albums twice. I just listened to the new Bonobo album and also The xx, their newest one — I’ve never seen the xx live but I’ve seen Jamie xx. Tora’s new album is also absolutely incredible.
How would you describe your sound on the new album, were there any influences?
I definitely think I was very influenced by a lot of the people I just mentioned but also people like ODESA and Hudson Mohawk; those who just do some of the bigger electronic stuff. I think they could definitely have influenced the sounds on the album but it’s also not a huge departure from what I was doing already. For me, it’s more of a progression and it is the debut album so I feel like it will act as sort of a benchmark for me and then in the future I can divert.
The first single that was released from the new album is titled Selfish, what does this track represent for you?
A lot of the album is based on reflections just from my own life and my own experiences. The lyrics tend to be quite personal and I don’t really understand how that happens, when I write I don’t ever necessarily set out for them to be like that, it just always ends up being some kind of therapeutic session for me. The song itself is just about emotionally growing up as a person and reflecting on the things I’ve taken for granted and being accountable for it. So yeah, growing.
Both Bridget Amofah from Rudimental and Montgomery feature on separate tracks on the album, how did these collaborations come about?
Actually I collaborate a lot, not much on this album, but I do enjoy it. Neither of these particular ones was like going into a room and writing the song though, they were songs that I’d already written and thought would sound really cool with an additional vocalist. Having that male/female duet is really nice and so I found them. I love Montgomery’s voice, it’s so silky smooth and then Bridget is also just this insane vocalist.
Collaboration’s really cool because you get another person’s ideas that you wouldn’t have normally and even if you did come up with them you might have shut them down and not seen them through. Because it’s someone else you’re more likely to be like oh yeah, let’s run with this for a bit and then you could end up really liking it at the other side. I guess just having someone else’s ideas and creative process, you get to experience and learn from them.
The new album is mixed by Grammy winning Eric J. Dubowsky (Flume, Chet Faker, ODESZA), how did that come about?
I actually met him at a writing camp. So I went on a camp to write with a bunch of people and he was one of the people there. Me, him and Tammy Phoenix got put together in this group — it’s kind of like speed dating it’s so random, you get put together for a day and just write a song. It was an hour out of Sydney at a studio called The Grove Studios and we stayed there, it’s pretty cool and that’s where I met him. When it came time to mix the album he’d just finished Flume’s album and he’d done Flight Facilities and Chet Faker and it seemed like an obvious choice to begin with but also we’d developed this relationship beforehand.
You did a number of sell out shows across the east coast in support of the single, how does it feel to have an audience so keen to embrace your return to the stage?
It’s awesome; I don’t take it for granted for a second. I think because I’d spent almost five years or something before that in bands touring, to have people who are actually familiar with my music or they care about it enough to have heard it and are buying tickets to come and hear it is pretty special. I know it might not last forever so I’m just riding the wave.