INTERVIEW WITH… EAST LONDON POP ARTIST HARRY AND THE CHICKS
I interviewed East London Pop Artist and Songwriter Harry and The Chicks on how her band, Harry and the Chicks came to fruition. How Harry crafted her otherworldly Pop band and subsequent community, her newest song “Snakes In the Streets”, her collaboration with the SafeUp app, and much more below!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Hi, How are you doing? How has the first few months of 2022 been?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Hi! I’m good thank you for having me, the first few months of 2022 have been really busy and fulfilling!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Thanks for doing this and taking the time out. How did you each get your start in music? How did Harry and the Chicks come to fruition?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: I always knew I wanted to be a singer, from around 3 years old. My sister is 21 and a half years older than me, and she was also a musician in her youth. She introduced me to so much 90s grunge and rock growing up, and gave me my first electric guitar. I taught myself to sing from age six using ‘SingStar’, and started learning guitar around 9/10 years old, with my guitar tutor who taught me how to perform and write songs. By the time I was twelve, I was songwriting and playing gigs. I’ve not stopped since.
Harry and The Chicks is a solo project, I’m Harry, the lead singer/ musician and writer, a lot like Marina and The Diamonds, another solo artist. I consider The Chicks anyone who joins me on my journey though, and my current official ‘Chicks’ are my guitarist, Dante, who performed the guitar parts on my new single ‘Snakes in the Streets’, and my bassist Mason.
Dante says: “My parents bought my first classical guitar when I was 8, and I started learning a bunch of my favourite songs by ear and practically never put it down. I got an electric guitar when I was 10 which was way more fun because I preferred rock music”.
Mason says: ‘”I started with piano, found that boring and gave it up, picked up a guitar a few years later, then picked up a bass a short while after that and then just fell in love with the instrument. I was in the right place at the right time with Dante needing a bassist for a ‘Centreline’ gig, and I’ve just not stopped following him around since.’
Harry and The Chicks come to fruition in 2019. I had been performing my music for years under the name ‘Harry’, because I wanted to keep my birth name since it’s a very uncommon name for a girl. I didn’t want to feminise my name, and I realised quickly I was competing with Harry Potter, Prince Harry and Harry Styles so I started thinking about a change. It all fell into place when I worked with my first band members, who were a few years above me, and were in a band called ‘Dead Baby Birds’, who I followed before I even started songwriting in year seven. It came full circle when they became my band years later, and when someone asked what I would be called as a band, I said, ‘well, they’re Dead Baby Birds, so I guess we’re Harry and The Chicks’ it just stuck.
In 2018, I won a contest called the Undiscovered Live Music Project as their Best Solo Act. A year later, I played all the contest shows as a guest and met my current guitarist and bassist Dante and Mason. I saw someone I knew in the crowd and was surprised to see them there, so when I asked them what brought them to this gig, he explained he was friends with a competing band, ‘Centreline’, that happened to have Dante and Mason in it. We actually all went to the same sixth form school, just in different years! Then, Mason’s mum approached my mum and said ‘I think you’re my aunt’, and my mum introduced me to her and said that this was her niece from her previous marriage to my sibling’s dad, so Mason and I are actually technically step-cousins once removed! We’ve been playing music together ever since and they are both massive assets to Harry and The Chicks.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What is the most rewarding thing about being a songwriter? And, the most frustrating aspect?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: The most rewarding thing about being a songwriter is being an artist as a whole. I can create art from life experiences and so if something negative happens to me, I tend to find a silver lining. My latest single was about my experiences with stalking and street harassment, something unpleasant that happens so often to me. I made a music video based on my true experiences with it, and it gave me an outlet and a platform to make a change in our streets. The most frustrating aspect of being a songwriter, but more broadly, an artist, is doing everything without a team. It’s taken me a long time to find the right producer(s) for my music, and I’m very DIY, so I make all my music videos myself with friends and family who are also learning. I’ve built my own team around me but being the director of every single thing for your project as well as the face and editor is very time-consuming, and sometimes makes you take the long road around something that could’ve been simpler, but that’s how we learn.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Let’s talk about your new music, in particular the single, “Snakes in The Streets” and the inspiration or backstory behind it?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: ‘Snakes in the Streets’ is about my experiences with street harassment and stalking. When I wrote the lyrics, I was dealing with sleep paralysis and dreaming about situations where I was stalked as a teenager. I just had to get it out somehow so it would stop. I found writing those lyrics very therapeutic. Ironically though, on my next walk to and from the studio, I was catcalled and harassed 14 times, which gave me the narrative for the music video. I reenacted my true experiences with my friends who had similar experiences in the video, and we choreographed it so it would all come together chronologically.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: How did your collaboration with SafeUp come together? What do you hope comes out of it?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Once I had everything prepared, I realised my song and video were a platform to help make a change to our streets, so I started following lots of activism pages that were anti-harassment. ‘SafeUp’ must have found me through one of those pages, because they followed me shortly after, and when I saw how their app worked I was absolutely floored. It allows women and gender minorities to walk home safely with other women who have vetted guardians all over the age of 18, but people of any age can use the app. It makes me feel much safer when I’m walking home alone that I don’t have to rely on a friend or family member to pick up the phone if I’m feeling uncomfortable, I know SafeUp has my back. I hope more women and gender minorities use the app to help make our streets safer. Ultimately in my dream world, I want street harassment to end together.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you were to describe your sound in only three words. What are they?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Purposeful Pop Music
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: What artists are “On Repeat” for you lately? What have you been listening to and playlisting?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Foo Fighters, Black Stone Cherry & Shinedown! I’ve got back into rock lately and made a playlist on Spotify called Harry the Rock Chick, going back through my rock roots. It features all my favourite rock bands and artists growing up, including Avril Lavigne, Paramore, and the Bratz Rock Angelz album of course. Pop-wise, I’ve been listening to a lot of pop indie artists I’ve found on TikTok. My favourite songs I’ve found lately include ‘FU In My Head’ by Cloudy June, and ‘Pretty Boy’ by Pouty Face.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: If you were to write about a song about any fictional world, what world would you choose?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Probably Harry Potter. Actually, I have a song that references Harry Potter a lot already, so consider that done and to be released (it’s called Wildfire, look out for it, there must be live versions dotted around online too)
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: To close out, I wanted to end on a few lasts.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last time I felt nostalgic?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Walking into my local Smyths store where I saw the Bratz Rock Angelz dolls on shelves again. It’s been a long time since I last saw Bratz on shelves since they fell out of popularity as I entered my teens. They were my favourite dolls growing up and the Bratz Rock Angelz album is still my favourite of all time, I’m not embarrassed, eight year old me had great taste. I dream of doing a Harry and The Chicks x Bratz doll line since my mum and I make handmade to measure Harry and The Chicks merchandise. Funnily enough, my mum has always made the clothes that I design, and before lockdown, I considered dressing up a Bratz doll that looked like me in miniature versions of what I wear… but then one of my TikToks went viral so we opened a store… and now my clothes are worn by real people all across the world!
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last time I danced like no one was watching?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Every time my parents go to bed and I have my headphones on late at night.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: Last thing I binged watched?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: I have a weird habit of binge-watching Tobey Maguire‘s Spider-Man 3, specifically the ‘Bully Maguire’ scene with him dancing and the finger guns… if you look at my Netflix you’ll probably see it’s paused just after that on ‘Continue Watching’…Every time my parents go to bed and I have my headphones on late at night.
THE RECLUSIVE BLOGGER: And, the last artist that blew my mind?
HARRY AND THE CHICKS: Dave Grohl from Foo Fighters. I’ve loved Foo Fighters and Nirvana for a long time, but I’ve been reading his book ‘The Storyteller’ lately and he’s really made something from nothing! He is so proactive and DIY with his music. He says, “I had no idea what I was doing and I faked it and it worked”, and goes on to say that he taught himself to play the drums using his pillows; now, he’s one of the greatest drummers of our time. Living a rich life of greatness, unfortunately also brought Dave major tragedy, including the recent death of Taylor Hawkins. A side effect of having beautiful connections with people is that it has to end somewhere. He says “with friends, you design your own relationship, which in turn designs your grief, which can be felt even deeper when they are gone. Those can be roots that are much harder to pull.” which really struck me and made me feel for him.
I was lucky enough to see Foo Fighters live a few years ago at London Stadium, and they were exceptional. My favourite Foo Fighters album is Wasting Light and I still listen to it often. I went to see the new film ‘Studio 666’ in the cinema when it came out, which is a horror-comedy about the band writing an album in a haunted house. It’s so brilliantly funny and well written. I absolutely love to see artists being creative in different mediums. Music is meant to be fun, and Foo Fighters make that so.
My favourite quote in his book was when he said, “for, in a world full of Barbies, every girl needs a Joan Jett”, because I like to think I’m a happy medium of that.