With the release of his massive self-titled debut album The Kite String Tangle, we caught up with the brains behind the tangled strings (and good beats), Danny Harley, and had a yarn about his new record label, Splendour In The Grass, working with Bridgette Amofah and of course, the process behind his stellar album.
Dive into the full interview below, and be sure to stream the album while you’re at it.
SR: Hey Danny! You’ve come a long way since winning a triple J Unearthed competition back in 2013 and a year later you got nominated for an ARIA award. Since winning the comp and working on your debut album, would you say your sound has evolved and changed a lot or have you tried to stick with your same signature sound?
TKST: I feel like I’ve gradually found a place that I’m happy with when it comes to making music. My style is song-based, pop electronic music, very vocal driven and emotive. It seems to be a common theme. Overall it’s still pretty similar but I think it’s developed a lot more.
SR: So the album drops next month, what can we expect from it and have you got any big collabs?
TKST: There’s two collaborations on the album. One of them’s with a girl from Melbourne called Montgomery who’s signed to the label I OH YOU! She’s great! Great songwriter. I’ve been a big fan of hers since she released an EP a few years ago. The other artist is Bridgette Amofah, who’s got an incredible voice. She sings live for Rudimental and I felt really lucky to have worked with her.
SR: The tune you worked on with her was your latest release titled The Prize. How did you two link up and what was it like working with Bridgette?
TKST: I went to London for a while and did some writing sessions. I don’t even remember how it happened but I was working on her own productions and we enjoyed it so much! We kept in contact and when she came to Brisbane for a tour with Rudimental, I hit her up to see if she had time for a studio sesh. We managed to find time and got straight into the studio for a day. I already had the track that I wanted and had everything kind of written out. We just went in there and she totally smashed it!
SR: It seemed like it all came together quickly and was a pretty fast process!
TKST: Yeah it was! We didn’t write together, she just came in and everything was ready to go. She is such a gun. She was like “Yep this is it, this is cool” and just smashed it.
SR: It’s great that you could just go in with Bridgette and have all these ideas flowing out rather than hitting a wall every now and then while writing.
TKST: I think that’s the beauty of collaborations. It forces you to work quickly!
SR: 100%. So how long did you work on your album for?
TKST: The oldest song on the album is about 5 years old but the majority of it was done in the last 2 years, maybe 3. So a while…but it’s also been done for a while too. It was a really long process.
SR: Any influences from other artists when working on your album?
TKST: Definitely. It’s kind of interesting. I feel like I have a set of influences in terms of production and then a set of influences in terms of song-writing. In terms of production I’m a huge fan of Jamie xx, Bonobo.. that kind of vibe and then there’s other stuff sneaking in there like Hudson Mohawke and JUNGLE. Writing wise… James Blake and London Grammar. I’m trying to marry the two and have been trying to do that for a while now. I’m not sure if it works but I’m giving it a go!
SR: That’s a nice stack of artists that you’ve mentioned. Great influences and talented people! Splendour in the Grass is coming up next month, who are you excited to see and what have you got planned for your live sets?
TKST: I’m excited to see The xx! They’re probably probably my number one most excited to see at Splendour. In terms of what I’ve got planned for my sets… I’ve got one, maybe two guests and I’ll be playing with my band which I haven’t really done much before…and I’ll be bringing some horns and epic lights. I’ve got a bunch planned!
SR: Sick! You’re also going to be jumping on board ODESZA’s upcoming tour and they’ve been one of your influences for a while too!
TKST: Yeah absolutely!
SR: You must be pretty excited to be going on tour with them.
TKST: For sure! I actually met them at Listen Out and I got super messy. I thought I’d made a total dick of myself and thought maybe they didn’t like me. They still booked me! I’m really looking forward to it. It’s going to be really fun. They’re incredible, one of my favourite acts.
SR: You launched your new record label. Exist. Recordings earlier this year! What sparked the idea? What’s your current roster like and do you have any new additions?
TKST: I’ve always wanted to start a label but it never seemed visible till recently. When my music started reacting with people I started to build a team around myself. More small roles were taken up and as they focused on my project (management, labels, publicity), it gave me more time to work on music. It was great but I kind of missed all the little things that came with starting out in this industry especially when I’ve come from a DIY background. Starting a label was my way of trying to get back into that side of the industry. To give back. I started Exist. Recordings with my management and it’s going really well! We’ve currently got Golden Vessels and Lastlings who are both amazing. We’ve got our eyes on a couple of other people and are in conversation with a few but we’ve got to keep it on the down low.
SR: You’re looking to expand or…?
TKST: Yeah definitely looking to expand! We want to take on more younger artists and up and coming artists.
SR: Looking forward to it! So with the current state of the electronic music scene in Australia, what up and coming artists are you listening to at the moment?
TKST: I just listened to TORA‘s new album on the weekend. It’s fucking incredible. They’re from Byron Bay. TORA‘s got such an international sound it’s very well crafted, very tasteful and they’re pretty incredible. I’d recommend it to anyone. I’ve been listening to Panama, they just released an EP and Kilter just dropped an album that’s super amazing.
SR: What’s the electronic music scene like in Brisbane?
TKST: I really like it and I think there’s an untapped market there for electronic music. Brisbane is a very Rock-heavy city…like we have DZ Deathrays, Dune Rats and Violent Soho.
There’s a whole bunch of electronic music that’s really great and not getting the attention it deserves. There’s not that much of a local scene around. There are no Club nights but that’s kind of what I want to start with Exist. Recordings. I want to bring people together. Sydney is much more switched on in terms of places to play and go and talk about music.
SR: I also wanted to point out your album artwork! It’s sick!
TKST: Oh you like it?
SR: I really do!
TKST: Thank You! It ended up being a bit of a collaboration. We got in contact with a guy called Tim Lovett who is also Brisbane-based but he lives in Melbourne now. He did the artwork for Flight Facilities’ Down To Earth and he did Hayden James‘ artwork you know…with the painted limbs (Something About You).
I’m a big fan of Tim’s work. We changed our mind halfway through the process. I really wanted it to be simple, bold and striking and I wanted it to primarily only be one colour. We did a photo shoot and one of the photos from the shoot turned out to be really good! Someone made a suggestion on making the photo as the cover. Tim took the photo, worked his magic and made it a bit more vast. It was a nice meeting point between a photographic cover and an artwork. I never thought I’d have a picture of myself on the front cover of an album but it’s turned out that way…haha!
SR: Just imagine for a second…if you were to announce a huge international tour, where would you like to go to? anywhere at all
TKST: Oh man that’s a good question. Absolutely anywhere at all? I reckon it would have to be some of the islands in Europe maybe like Croatia or the Greek islands. I’d like to visit Japan again. Definitely going to go there real soon but not for music…just for travel. I didn’t get nearly enough time last time when I played at Taico Club Festival in Nagoya. I loved it so much!
The Kite String Tangle‘s debut album is available for download ! Lend your ears and stream below! You can catch his live show at The Last Frost Festival which is coming u very soon!