Last week, perched at his keyboard underneath strings of dainty stage-spanning lights, Harry Strange delivered his first performance in Bristol like it was second nature. Following his debut appearance (and a pre-interview trip to the bar), I sat down with Harry to talk about music, Bristol, and exciting future plans.
A first-year liberal arts student from London, Harry Strange delivered a collection of songs to an eager crowd from the Balloon Bar stage, his every move brimming with enthusiasm. With only one single currently available on streaming services, and the second due out any day now, I was surprised to hear a setlist full of original compositions. The material came from a recorded EP, which Harry had taken a break from a short while before the scheduled release date, only to return to it dissatisfied and determined to rework the songs. 'I’m still working out what I like musically… for now, I am just planning to release more singles until the EP is ready… I’ve reached out to a few producers so far, and everyone’s been really enthusiastic'.
Bristol seems especially focal to this process, and Harry seems to be nothing but thrilled to be here; almost immediately we were discussing how accommodating Bristol is as a city. 'It’s got a great music scene… The Louisiana is my favourite, but I’ve also been to some good gigs at Thekla and Motion, and The Fleece seems great at supporting upcoming artists… it’s an amazing atmosphere to play music in – everyone is so forgiving, which is handy because it was scary to reach out to producers and ask if they wanted to work with me'.
Strange expressed an interest in a variety of artists, from established acts such as pop giant Lorde, to an unsigned 16-year old artist I had not encountered. 'Whenever anyone asks me about influences, I feel like I should be saying some older artists, like maybe Elton John, but honestly…' Instead, he voiced a preference for modern electro-pop, which comes across in his meticulously-constructed tracks. Employing gorgeous, layered vocals, soft, solemn keys, and deeply personal lyrical themes, it’s easy to see Harry’s work drawing considerable attention; lead single ‘Back Around’ wouldn’t sound out of place slotted between chart singles on live radio.
Live, Harry’s tracks are stripped back, delivered with nothing but a keyboard and his emotive, impassioned vocals. His cheery demeanour conveys an honest passion for playing music, and, coupled with the modest appreciation of the crowd that breaks up his set, contributes to a charm that already appears to have drawn considerable attention. The front row of the Balloon Bar brimmed with friends eager to congratulate him upon the closing of his set; the whole event, delivered in conjunction with Coffee House Sessions, felt overwhelmingly cheerful and relaxed.
Unsurprisingly, Harry isn’t done with playing music just yet. 'The next thing is to play some more gigs around Bristol, put out some more releases, support some established artists and hopefully get a taste of the touring life… I’m generally just aiming to play more music'. His partnership with Coffee House Sessions, who bring live music to student campuses free of charge and are hoping to add Bristol to their tour as of next year, seems perfectly suited to his goals. No doubt he’ll be spotted playing gigs around Bristol a good few times before he graduates. As an enthusiastic and passionate artist, and a friendly and down-to-earth guy, I’m sure there are a lot more exciting things for Harry Strange still waiting in store.
*Featured image: Facebook / Harry Strange *
Have you heard Harry Strange yet? Let us know...