The Kite String Tangle (aka Danny Harley) is no stranger to the limelight. After being catapulted into the musical stratosphere in 2014 with the triple J backed ‘Given The Chance’, Harley has since released a handful of ear-catching singles, including the blissful ‘Acadia’ and the collaborative ‘Stone Cold ft. Tiana Khasi’. Now, three years after his moniker became a household name, Harley has finally dished out a full-length offering filled with a lion’s share of equally as memorable cuts.
To dive deeper into his debut LP, Harley gave us an insight into the processes behind the creation:
Where was the LP recorded and over what time period?
The album was recorded over the last year or so. Most of the live instruments were recorded at Linear Studios in Sydney and everything else was recorded and written in Brisbane, my home town.
Where did you begin when it came to writing music for the record?
I had just come off the back of a bunch of touring for my previous EP and we decided to take a little time away from live and start writing the next record. I already had a few songs written that I quite liked and I set some basic parameters and then got to work trying to write music most days. I was really just trying to write the most honest and moving music I could.
What would you credit as being the major influences behind your debut?
I draw my inspiration for music and production from the artists I love and sounds that send me into a tailspin thinking about how a particular sound was made. Think Caribou, Jamie xx, Flume, London Grammar, James Blake, Hudson Mohawke, Bonobo, Purity Ring. In terms of lyrics and concepts, I draw from everyday life. My relationship and the relationships of those around me as well as my introspective and observational thoughts. Sort of like a personal diary or therapy session.
Do you have any unconventional, or perhaps unusual studio routines?
I don’t think so, but I write by myself most of the time so I could have developed some weird habits without knowing haha. Nothing that I haven’t heard other people do. I like to send anything in my computer through guitar pedals, I record my vocals by myself, I always do the lyrics last and I write predominantly on my laptop.
Are you more likely to have a structured ‘sit down’ approach to writing, or do you feel it’s more of a ‘spur of the moment’ type thing?
I definitely make sure I’m sitting down to write music as often as possible, but often that can be less than fruitful. I read an interview once, I think it was with Neil Finn, and he said he doesn’t set aside particular times to write but whenever he feels inspired he’ll drop everything he’s doing and pursue it. That really resonated with me and so I’ve been trying to do that lately.
Was there anything in particular that felt different about entering the studio for your LP, that perhaps wasn’t there during the creation of Vessel??
Yeah, I guess there was a self-imposed expectation or standard I was holding myself to. I tend to be sentimental about these things and I wanted to deliver the best thing I possibly could and made sure I gave myself the best opportunity to succeed. I think during the process though I lost my grip on what success actually was and what it means for music to be ‘good’. This sort of internal struggle shows throughout the record I think and I’m not sure there was much of that going on during the creation of my previous EP Vessel
What’s one thing that gets easier as your recording experience goes on?
I don’t ever want it to be too easy or comfortable because I feel like my music would run the risk of becoming boring or predictable. I think if anything though, there’s certain production and songwriting tricks and shortcuts you pick up along the way that helps you to make sure you’re definitely crafting something listenable.
Aside from your instrumental setup, what are some of the studio essentials? (Food and drink, video games etc)
I have lots of notepads for writing, I have a bunch of books to take lyric inspiration from (poetry from Jim Morrison, lyrics from Leonard Cohen, Shakespearean sonnets etc.), I have a big window in my current studio space which I love, especially during sunset. My cat Thomas. A viewfinder with random old reels 🙂
Have you always leant towards being a solo artist, or have you dabbled with other team projects over the years?
I was in bands for many years before starting The Kite String Tangle project. In fact, it started as very much a side project to my main band at the time ‘Pigeon’. I’ve always written music solo though. I often feel like I need multiple outlets for my various musical inclinations.
Do you have a dream piece of studio or performance equipment?
I just bought a case for a modular synth. It basically means that I’ll be getting little pieces of synths and gradually filling it up with custom doo-dads and bleepy machines until my wallet is empty and my girlfriend leaves me. It’ll be a fun journey though
Are there any other key influences in your circle you draw inspiration from? (Close friends, fellow musicians, mentors etc.).
Yeah I try to write a lot and therefore try to draw inspiration from most things, often things that shouldn’t even be inspirational
What is your fondest music memory to date? (Could be either as a performer, or a fan of music in general).
I remember this one Sufjan Stevens gig. I don’t really know why it resonated with me so much but it went for like two hours and it felt like two minutes. That connection with an artist and a performance is really powerful and is the reason so many people create music and listen to music. I think any time I’ve felt like that were all very fond memories for me.
*Photos by Lester Jones
Catch The Kite String Tangle at The Last Frost Festival on the 19th of August. Grab tickets here.