Saturday, October 9, 2010

Breathe Electric Interview with Grant Harris

photo by Laura Means
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with Breathe Electric frontman and creator, Grant Harris. Check out his newest release, Lovestruck. It is a perfect mix of electronica and pop-rock that may leave you fist pumping in the car, while fighting rush hour traffic.

How has the tour been so far?
Harris: It’s been good. We have gotten along with the guys really well, which is always good.
You have a ton of touring for the next couple of months correct?
Harris: Yeah, up until November sixth. It’s really good to stay busy, and we love it!
Now, “Lovestruck” came out just a few months ago in June. How would you say it differed from your previous releases, in terms of the writing and recording process?
Harris: On the last record, “Emotion”, I had a much clearer focus of what I wanted. I did the first Ep completely by myself, including the recording. When I went to a studio for the first time, I went through a period where I didn’t know which direction to take the music. There were a few tracks on the second record, “Emotion,” that are really electronic and others that are not electronic at all. On the new record, “Lovestruck,” I wanted to mix the two sounds together. I wanted to get more of a pop-rock vibe, but electronic at the same time. I recorded the album in two different trips, recording the first time and then went in four months later to finish up the other three.
How does the writing process normally pan out for you? Do you write everything yourself?
Harris: Yeah, I sit on my computer a lot and will just write things. My phone is full of voice notes of me just humming, and I just have bits and pieces of songs ideas everywhere. Then I will sit down and try to make sense of all of it, improving on some of the parts that were lacking. I then take a rough demo of how I want the song to sound and take it into the studio. From there we fix some of the parts, and sup-up some of the sounds.
Now that members have been added to the live show, is Breathe Electric still considered a solo project?
Harris: Breathe Electric is still technically me, but playing live is just so hard to do it by yourself. We wanted to bring more of a full band aspect to mainly represent the music on the album in a live setting.
What would you say was the idea behind the “Acoustic Sessions Ep?”
Harris: I was kind of going for some diversity. I was trying to also show that the songs can stripped from their electronic nature, and still be good songs. I wanted to show my voice in a different setting, as opposed to a really tuned electronic setting.
I was talking to Cady Groves a little while back, and she was telling me how the re-mixes that you did for her songs were also did the same thing. You were able to take her acoustic songs, and turn them into something completely different. Are there any other re-mixes that you are working on for artists?
Harris: Yeah, I did one for a band called Artist Vs. Poet on Fearless records. I am working on a lot of songs that I just do for myself, songs that I enjoy. In fact, I am working on a Katy Perry one right now. I have been looking online for acapella version of songs that I can remix, just to start releasing stuff for free. People like free stuff! I starting to post some re-mix on a Tumblr site that I have, and also some free demos that I have done. It is something I like doing in my spare time, something that I can do while I am on the road. It’s tough to write/record a song out on the road, mostly because it is difficult to record vocals. When I already have the vocals there in front of me, it’s more possible for me to do a re-mix opposed to writing whole songs for a new record. It’s just something I enjoy, that I think I will keep doing. I don’t see why not.
She also said that you guys may start up a side project in the future? Do you think that will ever pan out?
Harris: Yeah, we talked about it but it is tough to follow up, because we are both so busy. She is writing a new album on RCA, and I am in the process of going back into the studio in a couple of months to record a new Ep and doing re-mixes. Also, we are both touring so it is almost impossible for us to be like “well, let’s do this band right now!” It would be too tough to put time aside time to do it right now, since both of our own projects are our top priorities. Who knows? Maybe when she has some time off, and I have some time off, we could do something.
How do you feel about social networking as an artist?
Harris: I kind of owe everything I have to it (laughs). It’s funny, because I was talking to some of my friends that also owe everything to MySpace and I was like “Have you been on MySpace lately?” and they were like “No.” Nobody is on it anymore. I used to get hundreds of messages on MySpace every day, now I will be lucky to get one every other week. On the flip side, I have seen a huge upside in Twitter and FaceBook. I think it’s a great way to connect with fans and let them know what you are doing.
Yeah, you seem to have a strong following online. I saw that a little over a month ago you won the popular vote for “Best New Indie Artist of the Year” on music website.
Harris: It’s funny because there were a bunch of people that were upset at that website. We ended up with 60% of the votes, which was far ahead anyone else in that category. The voting then went on until a certain day, and then it just stopped without any post of who won. So many kids were pissed. I got copied in on a bunch of e-mails that were sent to the website.
So earlier you mentioned that you were working on a new Ep?
Harris: Yeah, I am always writing, even two days after I finished the last Ep I started writing again. Sometimes, things work out and I have a few songs that I am really excited about. On the other hand, you may write a song one day and then come back to it and say, “what was I thinking?” After this touring we will have some off time, so I think I will head off to L.A and do some more writing and recording. Who knows when a new Ep will come out? Hopefully soon?
Have you only put Ep’s out?
Harris: They have all been Ep’s and they are all going to be Ep’s, at least while I am still unsigned. I think to myself, why release a full-length right now? You can barely hold attention spans right now but you can release six songs and sell it at a show for $5 or less. Instead of having a full-length and feeling like you have to charge $10 ($12 on iTunes), you can keep it at five bucks. It is also easier keep writing music and releasing it at different times, it holds people’s interest a little more. It seems to be a good system, and I like doing things that way. I think we will continue to do it will I am still un-signed.
Your live performance tonight was fantastic! Who are some people that you have looked up to in the past as far as stage presence/performance goes?
Harris: I love Ben Folds, which is kind of funny because he sits down most of the time. He is just so crazy and engaging with the audience. On a side note I think I am seeing him in Chicago in November. I have seen him a few times before. My friend call and said that tickets were pretty expensive, I was like “I don’t care! I will sell all of my belongings to see him.”
What about musical influences? Ben Folds?
Harris: Oh yeah, Ben Folds of course. I grew up listening to a lot of pop music, and I really love drum and bass music. I have really been getting into dub-step and electro/house music. There is just something about a really deep bass, combined with a dance beat that just hits me in the brain somehow and gives me this feeling. Some people have drugs that they do, and I have never done a drug in my life, but music does that for me. I know it sounds clich√©, but when I hear that bass something comes over me. I can listen to anything really; I have even been listening to some country music. My big thing is that I can appreciate a really good song, no matter what it is, or who writes it. There will be people that say “that artist didn’t even write that song,” often about artists on the radio. Well, someone did, and I can appreciate that. Even more so, to be written by someone behind the scenes that knows just how a song should be written. A lot of people argue that the songs that are played on the radio, pop songs, are just made to sell, but that in itself is such an artform. To be able to know what will reach a huge audience, something that will sell, and everyone will immediately hear that song and say “oh, this is so good.” It is amazing to me, that there are people like that who can consistently write songs that are made for radio and will go to the Billboard “top 10,” if not number 1. There are so many producers and writers that have produces hits time after time, which blows my mind.
Is that something that you see yourself doing down the road? Produce/write for other artists?
Harris: Yeah, I am trying to do it more so now and just trying to be more in tune with writing. Re-mixing kind of goes along with that too, because I really like the production aspect of music and it is definitely something that I want to get in to. Right now I am focused on being a performer. Down the road, when I am fifty, I will hopefully be able to still write music and do music as my “job.”
Driving down the road, with the windows down on a perfect day, what are you listening to?
Harris: That is such a broad question, because it all depends on my mood.
How about you are in a great mood…
Harris: Great mood? Right it would be “American Trash” by Inner Party System. It is kind of a weird song to play on a perfect day, but it’s one of those songs that just hits home with me when I hear it. My favorite song of all-time is still “Still Fighting It,” by Ben Folds. I can always listen to Ben Folds, but I also listen to a lot of Inner Party System and Passion Pit.

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