Welcome to Harvey Sutherland's "really fun acid disco mega sequenced dance music experience"
Off the back of his acclaimed 2022 album Boy and upcoming national Laneway tour, we caught up with the premier purveyor of self-described neurotic funk
For over a decade, Naarm/Melbourne’s Mike Katz has been producing some of the most interesting, engaging, danceable and funky sounds around as Harvey Sutherland. Dropping a string of now iconic EPs in the mid 2010s on his own Clarity Recordings imprint as well as other labels including Motor City Drum Ensemble’s legendary MCDE imprint, Sutherland became a staple not just DJing in clubs (as well as having his tunes mixed in by DJs around the globe), but taking his live band show on the road for headline shows and festival slots, offering a different take on the Sutherland sound.
2022 marked a landmark year for Sutherland as he dropped his celebrated debut album Boy (an album that came in at number 3 in top 10 Aussie albums of the year!). A couple of years in the works, the album was crafted in between tours with the likes of Khruangbin and Hot Chip, as well as his busy studio schedule as an in demand producer and remixer for artists including Disclosure, Genesis Owusu and Hiatus Kaiyote.
Gearing up for 2023, Sutherland will be part of the national Laneway festival tour kicking off this weekend in Brisbane before heading to Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and finally Perth (all dates and full line-up below + set times here).
Ahead of the tour, we caught up with Sutherland to find out all about his multiple live shows, his undying love for DJing, changes in studio focus, collaboration (including working with DāM-FunK!), what to expect from him at Laneway, what he’s looking forward to and more After catching up a bit about our summers, including Katz’ relatively new role as a father to his baby daughter, we got into things.
Congrats on being a dad! As I say to everyone I know with kids, I can’t even imagine what that must be like… What was it like first getting back into the studio after such a monumental life event?
It’s been really good. My time is definitely more focused now, less sort of stuffing around all day and maybe making something, maybe not making something, now I’m a little bit more “I’m going in today, and I’m going to work for six hours” or something, and at the end of that I want to have something to show for it, I don’t want to be tinkering as much. I’m definitely more conscious of having this time.
Has your workflow changed at all along with the more focused studio approach, like the actual creative process?
Yeah, I mean, making the album there was certainly a luxury of possibly too much time, which I sort of felt at the time was becoming a little bit indulgent, and I really didn’t want to work like that. I get more enjoyment out of finishing a thing and having it kind of come out in a shorter space of time, then mucking around on the track you’ve been thinking about for three years or something, and it taking another year to come out. So my vibe was definitely to make things quickly and get them out, have everything be a lot more present and dynamic and in the moment.
And that ties back nicely to you saying you’ve been working on some things ahead of Laneway, so I guess I’m curious what the 2023 Harvey Sutherland live show is looking like?
It’s gonna take some different forms. I’ve been booked in April, I’m going to Brazil for the first time, and I’ve been booked to do a solo show which I haven’t done in a number of years, since I’ve sort of started doing more band shows I’ve done less of the solo thing. So that’s been in the front of my mind. At Laneway it’s going to be a duo, myself and Tully Ryan who’s an amazing drummer from Sydney. He plays with Godtet and a couple of other bands, and we’ve worked together in the past, so we’re sort of honing down to a kind of back to basics, sort od dance music roots of shit that I used to do and putting together a really fun acid disco mega sequenced dance music experience.
That's something I wanted to ask about actually, kind of like your own headline shows compared to tailoring more to a broad festival kind of crowd?
Yeah, there’s a bit of that you know, being able to demonstrate the most emotionally engaging sort of heavy parts of what I do, and being conscious if it’s like Laneway festival and maybe it’s a slightly younger crowd, maybe it’s a lot of people that have never seen me before. I want to put the big drums first.
Love it. What about, because I read back when your album Boy dropped, that you mentioned kind of wanting to do everything, including DJing, and I’m wondering where DJing sits for you these days?
Yeah, I’ve been doing a lot of DJing recently, getting booked for a lot more sort of club stuff and festivals where I can go and play a big stage, and that’s super exciting for me because that’s where I started out, I guess, working as a club DJ. I really like that space at the moment, I think it’s really exciting and there’s lots of fun music being made and I get to really dive in and connect with new producers and keep reinventing the sounds that I want to play out. So now I’ve been having a lot of fun DJing and diving back into old records, it’s been a heap of fun.
Well, speaking of old records, and I guess older records of yours, what about your label Clarity Recordings? I’ve always been curious if you’ve ever planned on bringing on new artists there?
Yeah, that was definitely the plan when I started the label, and then I got kind of carried away doing my own shit. I think there’s always going to be room to do that stuff, I just want to be able to give it the proper bandwidth. If I’m gonna put out somebody’s music, I want to do it justice and put the right amount of effort and time into it, not just as some like vanity project. There will be a time I think for it, but for now, I’m still pretty committed to making my own records and putting them out, touring and getting out there, so I think in time.
I don’t think anyone’s complaining about getting more Harvey Sutherland tracks! So back to Boy, I do have a few questions, but the first for me has got to be - what was it like working with DāM-FunK?!
He’s a true gentleman. The writing session was a couple of years ago and that was just super fun, fluid and a really relaxed kind of way of working. When we finally got together in L.A., it was just a fun hang. We sort of spent the afternoon going through tunes and brought in some instrumentals that he sort of really gravitated to that Feeling Of Love beat. So yeah, the writing process was super fluid, then I went back to L.A. to shoot the video with him. That was even more fun because he’d kind of been hitting me up once in a while asking how the song was going, and we finally got to actualize it. We had a good couple of days during that video shoot, really had some fun with it.
Yeah the morning that video dropped I just had the biggest grin on my face, set such a good mood for the day, and I love how the video was kind of almost like a spiritual sequel to FunK’s “Hood Pass Intact” video.
It was definitely a reference.
How important, because you do a lot of collaboration and remixes, like what’s the importance of the hang and the vibe of the other person in the process?
Oh, certainly for the writing process, it’s very important because you’re doing a long day in the studio, you’re in somebody’s company for 12 hours that you might not know that well. I think it’s very important to kind of keep it light, and be able to have a conversation, to get along, but equally some people just want to come in and work, and be immediately focused on the actual music making process, and I’m all for that as well, like I oscillate between being super excited to just chat and hang out, but also just want to get the job done.
I’m guessing it’s the happy medium, right? Because there’s no point having the best hang if nothing comes from it…
Yeah, sometimes you don’t even bother with music and just end up at the pub.
*laughs* For sure. So you do have Laneway coming up, and it’s also the start of the year and you mentioned being back in studio working on new tracks, is that like some of the kinda dancier Harvey Sutherland 12’ vibe?
Yeah, I don’t really know when I’m allowed to talk about it, but there will be a new single out pretty soon, and there’s a new remix as well that’s on the way. So yeah, I’m sort of planning to hit the ground running and really just drip feed some more tunes, probably some stuff that’s more aligned with the stuff I’ve been DJing recently, you know, much more in like a dance music space. That’s always kind of first principles for me, to make great club tracks that you know people want to play out and get down to.
I can’t wait to hear it all! So finally, in terms of Laneway, what are you looking forward to as a punter, anyone on the lineup you really want to catch?
I’m very keen to see The Lazy Eyes, those guys are great, really great musicians. There’s something to be said for a band of musicians that play really well together and have started honing their live shows, so that’ll be really great to see. I’m keen to hang with the Chaos [In The CBD] boys, catch some of the more dance leaning stuff. I wanna see Turnstile, I wanna see slowthai - there’s some great stuff on the bill.
There sure is, including you, of course! Awesome dude, thanks so much for chatting, keen to see you at Laneway!
Yeah, we’ll see you over there. Thanks Will, cheers.
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HAIM (Exclusive) - JOJI (Exclusive)
FINNEAS - FONTAINES D.C - FRED AGAIN..
GIRL IN RED - SLOWTHAI - TURNSTILE
HOCKEY DAD - JULIA JACKLIN - THE JUNGLE GIANTS
100 GECS - CHAOS IN THE CBD - KNUCKS - MALLRAT
ROSS FROM FRIENDS - THE BETHS - YARD ACT
ADAM NEWLING - THE BACKSEAT LOVERS
HARVEY SUTHERLAND - JACOTÉNE - JAMESJAMESJAMES
LOGIC1000 - SYCCO - TASMAN KEITH - THE LAZY EYES
ABBY BELLA MAY - ANDY GARVEY - COLDWAVE
DALLAS WOODS - FELIVAND - JONO MA
PRICIE - RUBY CANNON - SIOBHAN COTCHIN - SOPHIYA
DATES & VENUES
BRISBANE (16+) - SELLING FAST
Saturday 4 February
SYDNEY (16+) - SELLING FAST
Burramattagal Land and Wangal Land
Sunday 5 February
ADELAIDE (16+) - SELLING FAST
Friday 10 February
MELBOURNE (16+) - SELLING FAST
Saturday 11 February
The Park, Flemington
PERTH (16+) - SELLING FAST
Sunday 12 February
For all information, set times and tickets, head to lanewayfestival.com