OFF THE RECORD with Harper Bloom and Jack Bratt

Prudence Clark goes Off The Record with Harper Bloom and Jack Bratt.

It’s official. I’m banning the ‘C-Word’. It’s everywhere, the news, social media, the radio – yes, it is a global pandemic and economies around the world are taking a beating, but personally, I think it’s time to focus on the amazing creative projects all of the unemployed musicians and creatives are currently churning out. Amidst the doom and gloom, there is a shining light being generated by our incredible musicians and bands that is literally going to dazzle us and knock our socks off once this is all over, which looks as though it will be sooner rather than later. 

This week, Off The Record was lucky enough to hear from two talented Australian musicians, Harper Bloom and Jack Bratt, who chatted about their new music, books they’re devouring and what this recent C-experience has taught us all.

Most people have a little more time on their hands of late, so how have you been keeping busy?

Harper: I am trying to stay as productive as possible, because all this free time is a blessing really, so I want to use it wisely. I have a daily schedule each day which I try and stick to. I never really had the spare time to figure out my own arrangements for cover songs, to really make them my own. So, now I am figuring out some arrangements for covers I’d like to play with my band when we go back to doing live shows. I also have time blocked each day for writing lyrics- whether it forms a song or not doesn’t matter. I just like to have a heap of ideas down in my notebook so when a melody idea or inspiration comes, there’s a bunch of notes I can look through.

Apart from that, I am just trying to practice as much as possible to keep improving myself. I am also working on a music video with David Hansen which will be shot in my apartment later this month. It will be released sometime in June with my second single “Walk My Way”. I think, even during this current state of the world, there are little projects you can be doing to keep moving forward.

Jack: I’m just trying to make the best of the situation. I’ve been taking my neighbour’s dog out for a long walk once a day. Listening to music, playing some board games with my fiancé. And just trying to enjoy a little unexpected break.

Are you working on any new material that listeners can look forward to hearing in the near future?

Harper: I recorded a 5-track EP with Benjamin McCarthy in July last year, I am really proud of these songs, so I am just focusing on releasing these songs first. My second single ‘Walk My Way’ will be released this June, so that is exciting. Then the whole EP should come out later in the year, maybe August or September. So, there will be a lot of new material that listeners can look forward to hearing very soon! I am excited to put these songs out into the world and I hope people resonate with them.

I also have a lot of other songs ready to be recorded, but I think I will wait to once the first EP is out until I record those. I am constantly writing down ideas for songs, that is something that never ends. I don’t really like to force songs together though. So, although there is a lot of time right now, I am not trying to write a full song, I am just trying to collect ideas and melodies and then if something starts to form that fantastic!

Jack: Absolutely, I’d already been working on a follow up single to my debut single ‘Spades’ which came out in April. I’m also writing new music and coming up with ideas and recording some home demos. 

Are you reading any good books or listening to any new music at the moment that you can recommend to our readers?

Harper: I am currently reading Jack Kerouac – The Subterraneans. Anything by Jack Kerouac is amazing, he is an extremely poetic writer who pioneered the beat generation of 1950s America! This book is loosely based on true events. It’s about a love affair Jack shared with an African American women in 1950s New York, whom he met in the San Francisco writing underground. The storyline navigates around the interracial relationship and highlights how this was radical and deviant in the 1950s. A lot of his novels have to be taken as products of their time, because fortunately we live in a much more accepting world.

There is heaps of great new music coming out at the moment. I have thoroughly been enjoying San Cisco’s new four track EP, ‘Flaws’. Each song is so unique and puts you in a completely different mood. I have also been loving Greta Stanley’s new anthem ‘Soak Into This’ and Noah Dillon’s huge new single ‘Matthew McConaughey’. I’m also going to throw out, listen to ‘Seabird’ by the Alessi Brothers. It’s an older song that I just can’t seem to get enough of.

Jack: I’m currently reading Last Night at the Viper Room by Gavin Edwards. It’s a bit of background on Hollywood culture in the 90’s with the main focus on the events leading up to the death of River Phoenix. Music-wise, I’m loving listening to a band called CLEWS who are fantastic. Hannah Cameron, Kyle Dion and a bit of John Coltrane during dinner.

What’s your take on live streaming music performances?

Harper: I think that live streaming is a great idea. Obviously, it doesn’t encompass the same intimacy and buzz of a live gig, but I think it’s the best thing we can do right now to stay musically active and stay connected. Also, I have been able to watch a heap of artists whose gigs I might not have been able to make it to in the past, be it distance or timing. It’s cool that you can also tune into Isol-aid while doing other things, like walking or cooking dinner. I’ve been listening to acts I’ve never heard of before because the streams are so accessible, so I guess it’s helped me find a lot of awesome artists.

Jack:I tuned into Isol-aid every weekend and loved it. The Tim Rogers and Paul Dempsey sets have been personal favourites. I haven’t done a live stream personally, and at this stage I don’t think it’s really the right thing for me. I haven’t been able to play live yet as a solo artist in support of my new single and I’d like there to be a live audience there when I do.

 Once this shit storm passes, how do you think the world is going to look?

Harper: I am grateful we live in a country that has a government that looks after us. I am hoping that the stimulus packages will be enough to keep everything alive while we are in hibernation. A lot of news articles are saying “We can’t go back to normal”, but as an optimist, I am hoping that when it passes, business, live music venues, festivals and concerts are buzzing again! I feel like this whole COVID-19 thing has taught everyone a few lessons on what is truly important. Family, friends and community is what is really shining through for me.  I hope it passes soon so we can all go out and enjoy live music again!

Jack: I’m hoping we will be flooded with a lot of great art and music that people have been creating during isolation. I’m know we will all be excited to see our friends and loved ones again, but I’m sure there will be some changes going forward to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again.

Harper Bloom’s ‘Mary’ is a wonderful example of brilliant Australian songwriting from beginning to end.  Deeply personal, affecting and sweet, Mary shines with acoustic guitars, driving percussion and her unique, gentle vocals.  Working alongside Benjamin McCarthy (G Flip, Thelma Plum, Megan Washington) to bring ‘Mary’ to life, Harper Bloom has impressed with this brilliant single that was released 2 April.

Listen: MARY

Watch: MARY 

Hot off the back of winning the prestigious Grant McLennan Fellowship in 2019, beloved Aussie rocker Jack Bratt has recently announced his brooding new single ‘Spades’, a study in over-thinking and is accompanied by an intimate live video that is not to be missed.

Listen: SPADES

Watch: SPADES

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