Meet Sydney's Harley Alaska, who makes an entrance with a hazy, intimate debut single
The musician's debut single Lose You Too is a touching and incredibly exciting introduction to someone who is bound to blossom.
We've spoken endlessly about the indie/alt/bedroom-pop explosion of the last three years or so, fuelled by an exciting league of newcomers creating infectious bursts of brilliance with their every revival. For so long, however, this specific musical niche has been dominated by internationals - think along the lines of Clairo and Rex Orange County - but now, we're beginning to see the waves crash in Australian waters, and it's allowing musicians such as Harley Alaska to step up and make wonderful and incredibly promising introductions.
Raised in Sydney, Harley Alaska's breakthrough moment has been a long time coming. He's been writing music for years now, firstly for a bit of creative expression before songwriting turned into something much bigger - into a way the musician could reflect and process his thoughts and experiences in a private and personal way. Eventually, that led to his music becoming some of the most honest and intimate we've come across, with his debut single - last week's Lose You Too - being the perfect example of which.
Lose You Too is the type of single that's personal enough to feel like a vulnerable glimpse into Harley Alaska's mind, yet open enough that anyone can reach into its meaning and find something to latch onto. It's a song laden with his own thoughts and reflections, full of the emotional intelligence that's born through the reflection accompanied by his songwriting, and the comforting visibility that relishes in anyone that can pluck something from his hazy, yet soothing vocals.
"When my last relationship ended, I really had to re-find the person who I was…or wanted to be," he says on the single. "My identity was so wound up in somebody else that I was really lost for a while. When you’re young it's especially tough… you don’t really have a solid idea of who you are in the first place." Naturally, it's something he explored through his music, as he explains. "Showing people your music is terrifying. Especially when you write as blatantly honest as I accidentally seem to keep doing. But I guess more terrifying to me was the idea of continuing to hide the one thing in my life that ever made me feel like I was worth something."
Lose You Too is a brilliant example of that; an introduction not just to Harley Alaska as an exciting indie-pop addition to Australia's musical space, but also to the emotions and intimacy which fuels every lyric and every note; to everything that makes Lose You Too such a defining moment perfect for Harley Alaska's grand entrance.
There's plenty to love here and plenty more to come, so ahead of all of that happening, take a dive into Lose You Too below, and better introduce yourself to Harley Alaska underneath:
Tell us about yourself?
Hahaha what an open-ended question! How long do you have honestly…
I spend too much time in my notes app, and in my bedroom. I don’t understand why they put the chicken schnitzel ON TOP of the chips and make them all soggy. I’m most productive at night and awful at getting out of bed in the morning. I do my best thinking when I'm in the shower. I’m pretty bad at keeping up with the news. I’ve been making music since I was a kid and am kind of a perfectionist. I’m really good at giving advice to everyone except myself. I write songs for me, you and my exes. And.. maybe if you take me out to dinner I’ll tell you the rest..?
What’s your music like? What does it sound like? What kind of themes does it usually cover?
UMmmmmm it's like “bedroom pop” I guess to some degree. Although that's kind of a vague description given that almost anything can be pop these days. I’d like to exist in the space outlined by the likes of Jeremy Zucker, Chelsea Cutler, Lauv and co. but honestly love the idea of being able to just make whatever music I think is cool at that time of my life. I think that's starting to become more and more accepted.
Lyrically - it's just my life... I suck at writing unless it's coming from a genuine place. So usually about people I’m either currently in love with or used to be in love with lmao. Plus there's also just a lot of me trying to figure myself out as well.
What are your production and writing processes usually like?
I almost always start on the guitar or piano. I think that if you can write a song that's interesting and entertaining on just a single instrument then you really get a sense of whether or not it's a good song. I’m a sucker for a good melody so usually, that's the first thing that comes after the chords - with just gibberish words over the top. Although recently I’ve started keeping a note with heaps of just cool concept ideas - so that's been fun to come at it that way too. Then finally I’ll open Ableton - where I usually will have some semblance of where I wanna take it by then. Or I'll make 42 versions trying to figure it out...
Sometimes it feels super easy. Often super hard. But I think that forcing yourself to write even when you're not super inspired is a good habit to get into.
Can you tell us about your debut single, Lose You Too?
Lose You Too is a cool one for me. It really accurately reflects a significant period of my life where I just felt completely lost coming out of a long term relationship as a teenager. My identity was so muddled and tangled up in someone else and expectations of what I should be doing with my life just made stuff really confusing. I feel like when you’re young it's especially tough because you never really had a solid idea of who you were to begin with and then you have to go out and somehow ‘reclaim’ your identity. I particularly love it because I didn’t even really realise any of this until like a year after I’d written it. I just thought it was a cute love song.
What do you have planned for the rest of 2021 and beyond?
I’m super inspired right now - people have been so supportive of Lose You Too and I just wanna keep connecting with people and giving them more of myself. So I guess that means more songs, live shows - all that good stuff. I’ve been preparing for this for what feels like my whole life so I’m hoping to hit the ground running.
And then eventually I kinda wanna try my hand at being a Minecraft streamer hahaha. Seems like a fun time honestly.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
Wow, large question. I guess I just want to help inspire and provide people with that same support that I’ve gotten from music in the past. For a long time I used to think that I was writing these songs just for me (or for an ex) but after putting out Lose You Too people started messaging me about just how perfectly it describes their own situation and how it’s helping them feel even a tiny bit better or feeling more heard or whatever it is… just feels super cool and is something that really gives me a lot of purpose going forward.
Where can we find more of your music?
Well currently it's just the one song out.... But there’s a lot more where it came from so I guess just follow me on Spotify or Instagram (por que no los dos?) and we can go on this journey together!