Behind some of the tracks you hear these days on radio and on the DJ sets is the beautiful voice of singer and songwriter Harland. We take the chance to speak to her about her beginnings, her music and her current scope on things.
Originally from London, Harland began her musical life in 1999 as “Phoelar,” a bedroom and 8 track collaboration with Australian programmer Andrew Wright. After being captivated by the electronic music world Harland, relocated to Brooklyn , NY where she programmed, wrote, and recorded the bulk of her first album, “ Salt Box Lane .”
In the past 18 months, she has signed to Chrysalis Publishing, toured the US and Canada , released two albums, and appeared as a writer and guest vocalist on many dance, trip-hop, and alternative records around the world.
Harland has recently been receiving wide radio airplay across the world with her vocal contribution to Rio Klein's new dance single, “Fearless.” Harland also contributed two songs on the newly released dance album, “Right Of Way” by Ferry Corsten.
An accomplished singer in the styles of Dido and Kate Bush, it was her own compositions that attracted the attention of international DJ's and artists like Junkie XL who featured her on his album, “Broadcast From The Computer Hell Cabin,” alongside such artists as Robert Smith, Dave Gahan, Gary Numan, and Anouk.
Her singing, writing and programming skills have led to collaborations with DJ Rap, Delerium and John Cale of Velvet Underground.
After taking over vocal duties for Sarah McLachlan and Leah Nash of Six Pence None The Richer for the Delerium US & Canadian Tour, Harland received glowing reviews for her performance.
Harland, the singer and songwriter sometimes known by her full name Shelley Harland spends a little time talking to us about herself.
i:Vibes: You started out in 1999 under the moniker Phoelar with Andrew Wright in London. How did that come about, and any significance in the name Phoelar?
A: I began writing songs on guitar and a four-track about four years ago.
I wrote sketches of songs - and at the same time I was collaborating long distance with a great programmer/producer in Australia called Andrew Wright. When we realized we had a few songs up our sleeve I flew over to Oz and We recorded fifteen songs in one month and created the album Phoelar. We had a brilliant time! Andrew inspired me to become a programmer.
We just thought Phoelar looked cool - lol!!!
i:Vibes: And what about before you started in the music business - life, influences, views..?!
A: I grew up in a small town called Caterham in Surrey. There was a lot of Motown in the house: Michael Jackson, Tina Turner and Frank Sinatra, too. I had a little Casio keyboard and would make up little songs.
At weekends I would go to clubs with my friends and dance all night. I love dance music. But when I moved to London I was introduced to the other side of music. I saw a lot of live bands and loved watching people perform. It inspired me.!
i:Vibes: Moving back forward to recent years, you've worked with producers such as Joshua Ryan, Pole Folder and now Ferry Corsten and Rio Klein. Is dance music now becoming your core music focus, moving away from your previous material?!
A: Not at all. I love dance music and Ill always want to “guest vocal” on other peoples tracks – its fun! But I love traditional song writing also. Ill always want a little flavour of electronic sounds in my music but I really love writing songs that anyone can sing along too!
i:Vibes: Speaking of your own material what was it like producing your first released album "Salt Box Lane", and how about telling us a bit about your planned upcoming album?!
A: I produced some songs on my album – there were also songs produced by others. It was a wonderful experience to meet and work with such great people and I learnt a lot but I look forward to either producing my next album entirely on my own or working side by side with just one other producer. I love challanges!!
i:Vibes: You've been said to be a fast learner when it comes to music production and writing and even video production. How hard was it to pick up the technicalities?!
A: It really wasn’t hard. Its strange – I never knew I was good with these things – but when they’re placed infront of me my brain justs fits right in with it I’m lucky!!
i:Vibes: Touring with Delerium not too long ago was deemed as a huge success. How did get involved with them, and how do you feel taking up Sarah McLachlan's place in singing songs such as "Silence" and Leigh Nash's original vocals on "Innocente" - which, mind you was as good if not better than the original.!
A: Wow! Thanks – that’s a wonderful compliment. Well, I was asked by Rhys if I wanted to perform with them. He knew of me through Nettwerk and also through fans posting on his site. I was very honoured to sing “Silence and Innocente” They are my favourite Delerium songs and I loved singing them. Of course I was slightly nervous about singing the “hits”. But I got such great responces from the fans – I think I pulled it off !
i:Vibes: There are songs available to download on your website in mp3 format. Do you have any particular views on digital media?!
A: I love providing mp3’s. I would love to be in a position financially where I can always just create music and share it with people for free. But realisticly this wouldn’t work – an artist needs to be supported so that they can have the time to create the music. So its kind of catch 22.!
i:Vibes: Who would you want to collaborate with now?!
A: Massive Attack, Andy from Lamb, Sneakerpimps, Bjork..!
i:Vibes: Describe your perfect day..!
A: Wake up – its sunny outside – there are fresh flowers in a vase by my window. I sit down with a cappacino and pastry and daydream. I walk down to the beach (from my imaginary beach house). Listenening to the waves I begin to tune in to orchestra in my mind. I imagine beautiful strings, crashing beats and beautiful melodies……then I run home as fast as I can because the batteries on my Dictaphone have run out and I don’t wanna forget this tune!!!!
i:Vibes: Out of all the productions you have ever done, what would you say is your favourite and why?!
A: Junk Misery – because its so beautifully simple.!
i:Vibes: You've had some experience doing productions and remixes solo and collaboratively; do you have any plans to work on dance productions yourself in the future?
A: I wish I had more time to do it now. Its so much fun to remix someone elses song. I definitely want to do this when I have more time. Infact I might enter the next Acid Planet contest.
i:Vibes: Favourite song at the moment?
A: Insensible by Mandalay!
i:Vibes: If you had to choose, would you rather be known as Harland the artist, the singer or Harland the producer?
A: Harland the singer songwriter – who is also a kick ass chick producer.!
i:Vibes: Any last words of wisdom for our readers?
A: Be Happy!