The one-man-band has become a feasible, more efficient idea in recent years with technological developments and mainstream music audiences’ love of the synthesized, electronic pop song. Harts, stage name of the multi-talented musician and songwriter, Darren Harts, is yet another Australian rising star whose use of technology is spurring on his career.
Moving from drums in a garage rock band at 15 to guitar and vocals in indie bands started Harts‘ off as a musician. The instrument changes eventually effected his ability to create his own music entirely on his own: playing, recording, and producing on his own. “My live show currently consists of just me, a guitar, sequencer, drum machine, keyboard, and loop equipment.” The artist remarks that performing alone is “recreating the songs live on the fly…It’s actually a really energetic way to perform and allows me more freedom than a traditional rehearsed band set up.”
Traditional is a word that has no applicable use in terms of Harts’ music. The feel good funk of soul and R&B in Harts’ melodies phase in and out of tastefully unique guitar leads the likes of which we haven’t heard since Prince– and the reference seems fitting. Prince is infamous for his ability to command the stage and his absolute revolution of musicianship in pop music. Harts cites Prince as “the ultimate benchmark musician…I really aspire to reach him and hopefully surpass him one day, but that seems a fair way off right now.” He also cites Jimmy Hendrix and Buddy Guy as influences in his guitar playing, as well as 70’s/early 90’s post-disco. Calling his influences “schizophrenic,” Harts’ wild list of musical role models goes from Jack White‘s breakout rock outfit, The White Stripes, to the UK’s Oasis, back to Earth, Wind, and Fire, and rounding out with modern EDM DJs, Daft Punk.
His party of an EP, Offtime, features five tracks of audacious, breakout feel-good pop rock that is as addictive as it is intricate; a carefully planned and pleasingly well-written masterwork of a debut mixed by Lars Stalfors of The Mars Volta. Harts calls Offtime a “mixture of being dissatisfied with a lot of music these days and a yearning to create something new and exciting. The EP has created the starting point…the base for my sound…I can now build on that base and add whatever I want to it- even construct something entirely unexpected on it, while always being able to strip back and still have the base there.” With funk and soul as a firm foundation to rest on, Offtime sets off Harts’ career with five abundantly complex pop songs to choose from. “Back to the Shore” may be the most radio friendly of the group, with an earworm of a hook that is near to the impossible to drop from the mind’s playlist. The title track shows Daft Punk‘s influence, juxtaposing soaring guitars and buzzing synths. “All Too Real” is the playground on which Harts flexes his muscles on electric guitar, complete with vocals reminiscent of Phoenix and MGMT. “Vampire” is a play on popular culture’s obsession with so deadly and generally repulsive a creature, and feels like a lost sister to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” Arguably the best track on the EP, “The Music,” carries a heavier message that belies Harts’ intentions as a musician. “The song is about not conforming to the trends and phases of popular music or indie music, just because they are seen as ‘trendy.’ It also plays with the idea of people being oblivious to the fog that surrounds one’s judgement when it comes to why you like something. Basically, it’s about sticking to my own beliefs about music, even though they may be outdated, and not worrying about what’s happening around me.”
As far as Harts is concerned, we hope he does keep on “dancing through the night.” As he admits, “the candlelight” metaphor can apply to seeming outdated or traditionally inclined, but his EP is nothing short of revolutionary to the indie/pop world that by definition exists through its dependence on modern conventions. With a burgeoning worldwide fanbase on the rise, the phenomenon that is Harts will hopefully continue to spread.
For more on Harts or to download Offtime, visit his official website.