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Harmony is literally following her dreams with Dystopia Girl

Harmony, once one-half of indie outfit Girlpool, announced her debut solo project Dystopia Girl and released pop single “Good Things Take Time.” Read the interview. Continue reading…

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Welcome to AP&R, where we highlight rising artists who will soon become your new favorite.

Harmony, once one-half of LA indie outfit Girlpool, is tapping into another realm. The singer-songwriter is stepping out with a dreamy, unique solo act that serves as the artist’s first formal debut into the world of pop. Smiling into the camera with a mouth full of tooth gems that glint in the sunny bedroom she calls me from, Harmony tells me about the experience of growing out of a genre where she’d found success, and leaving it behind for a sound that felt more suited to the woman she’s become. Though Harmony’s debut project Dystopia Girl does pop justice, it’s far from bubble gum. It’s deeply poetic spun sugar—woven through with spirited, thoughtful lyrics that are positive without being cloying or synthetically sensitive.

Read more: Harmony, TVOD, and Buggin are rising artists you need to know

This pure, refreshing take on pop music didn’t come from years in the industry perfecting the crowd-pleasing genre, gearing up to meet a mainstream audience based on analytics—rather, Harmony’s path to pop was both rare and beautiful, full of self-actualization, mysticism, and melody-filled dreams. After years in the alt-rock and indie bubble, stewing and singing about depression, heartbreak, and dead ends, the scene that had once been a haven began to feel stifling. With adulthood and experience had come confidence for Harmony, and she has been adamantly pouring these feelings and realizations into Dystopia Girl, the album she has been both gracious enough to share and speak on with AP, unpacking the tracks that came to her in another realm and breaking down the moment she realized she could, and would, be happy.

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[Photo by Skylar Newman]

So this is your project—your project. Have you been waiting a long time for this moment?

Yes, I have always been experimenting. Basically, I’d been making pop—like, my iteration of pop music—since 2016 or ‘17 and on my computer, demoing things terribly. Some of it is still online, but I was just putting it up at the time by myself. But now, this is my first legitimate, okay, I’m doing this moment, which is really exciting.

What do you think makes your iteration of pop different? What sets it apart?

I feel like it still has the songwriter lyricism, the way the songs are written isn’t as formulaic. It’s more flowing, but it’s still sonically poppy. Overall, it’s less structured and more idea-driven than chorus driven.

Do you feel like you’re trying to play for a different audience than you did previously?

I don’t think it’s for the audience who was listening to Girlpool when we first started, probably in 2014 or ‘13. But it depends because I feel like as my taste has changed as an artist, and what I’ve been wanting to make has changed, I’m sure the taste of people who have listened to Girlpool or music I’ve made in the past has changed as well. So generally speaking I would say it’s like a pretty different vibe, but has the same heart. The spirit of it is the same, but just like the sound of it is different.

How do you feel about entering a “new era?” Is there fear around it?

I feel like it’s confusing because like Girlpool was so incredible and such a gift for me and Avery as artists. It taught us both so much, but it also kind of bound us in the way that we were in a band structure and perceived the entire time through the project. We grew so quickly after we had started, it was like that the precedent we set was so strong that we were almost constantly disappointing our initial fan base. Now it feels a little bit like there’s more freedom because there’s no precedent, you know? For people who follow me on social media, who’ve seen my [solo] demos for years or who know the podcast, they know the vibes. This is really unsurprising honestly. But yeah, if you’re just like an early Girlpool listener and see this, you’re gonna be like, what in the goddamn hell is that. [Laughs.]

I can imagine it’s easier to be yourself as a solo artist than to do so in a band that you’ve been in for years, and essentially grown up in. With this project that you’re putting out, would you say this is a truly authentic version of you? 

It’s just sides. There are so many sides. What’s being shown at a given time is what you’re at peace with. As a child, I had been obsessed with pop music and pop culture, but I felt like such a reject in LA that I grew to hate the things that I loved. And that’s why indie and punk scenes were so rewarding for me, was because I really felt like there was nowhere else for me. I have endless gratitude for that culture and being able to make work in that genre. But I think as I’ve grown older, I’ve overcome the perception I had of myself not having space or being allowed in mainstream media. My ability to accept and want to do certain things has changed… I was an outcast as a kid and I think it impacted my brain in a way that was just so ridiculous. Now, doing this feels like a part of myself I haven’t gotten to express yet. Finally, I have made peace with wanting to express it. 

It’s rare to hear someone talk about pop music in that way, as actually being the truer form of self. I think, especially in the alternative world, there is a stereotype about pop music is that it’s synthetic, it’s fake happiness, and the truest form of authenticity is heavy music. I gravitated towards punk as an outsider kid, too. I saw people who looked tough, who were expressive, and I followed. But it’s interesting to hear about your journey toward pop as a form of growth, it’s incredible. 

I don’t even feel like making indie rock was ever inauthentic. And making pop music is equally not inauthentic. They’re both authentic. It’s just what I am eager to show right now—it might be a new expression for me to share, but it’s not new for me

Authenticity can’t really exist in black-and-white, anyways. For anyone. 

Yeah, the authentic self is such a fun and entertaining human thing we do. We’re like, oh, are you real or not? But it’s really about whatever you’re experiencing in a moment and the way you’re reacting to it that is authentic. When I first started making music, I was like, do I really care about this? Or is this just something I’m doing because it’s cool. I was so fixated on that idea. And it’s just like, it will stunt you if you’re constantly analyzing reality. Just continue to exist in the moment and the real thing will arise.

It seems like it’s more about taking a litmus test of are you comfortable with yourself right now? But sometimes not being comfortable with yourself is also a good thing too, for artists.

Everything is just how you look at it too. Nothing is bad, it’s just where you’re sitting in the room.

Harmony photo 2

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[Photo by Skylar Newman]

What’s your favorite track?

There’s different value in all of them and they’ve all been really cool moments for me. But I think the title track is probably my favorite. I really like the metaphors in that song, and the poetry in it is an effective mantra for how I view the world. “Good Things Take Time” was like the first song where I felt like, oh my god, I’m happy, and moving towards happiness and I’m making the choice to feel differently about my life. That was the first song that I’ve written that I really felt like was coming from a place of joy and it was really so crazy to do that.

It’s interesting to even think about good songs coming from a place of joy. I feel like we have this preconceived notion inside and outside of the music industry that the greatest tracks, albums, and art come from great pain. That you have to be heartbroken to be inspired. 

It’s so true. I felt that way forever. In terms of Girlpool’s music, the song “Fault Line” is a huge mark of who I was for most of my life. It’s kind of like being trapped in this cycle of suffering, making bad decisions for yourself but you just can’t stop but you willingly do it because you’re scared to break out and become something else. Then I wrote “Good Things Take Time”, three weeks after “Fault Line” came out and it was the craziest thing because I felt like once “Fault Line” was out in the world, it would be so cathartic I would become a different version of myself. Then “Good Things Take Time” came to me in a dream just weeks later. It was all chemical, mystical, deep, and spiritual. 

Are a lot of your creative processes grounded in the spiritual and mystical realm?

Honestly, yes. But I feel like everything in life is, in a way. It’s not even about my processes—I perceive most of life as a very spiritual and mystical experience. The song, “I’m So Lucky”. The melody just was in my head the day before, and the first line came to me in a dream, too. I was dreaming about this person that was freaking with my head— well, I was freaking with my own head at the time projecting on this freaking person. And I woke up and I had this line in my head! I hadn’t seen them in a long time and it was like “You’re boycotting reality, so you come into my dreams.” So there is definitely a mystical dream element. I don’t know, I’m still figuring that out, because I came to my mom in her dreams before I was born and told her my name. So I feel like there’s a weird thing with me and dreams that I haven’t fully tapped into yet that I like need to explore more fully. [Laughs.]

Source: altpress.com

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