THE fantastic Roman Harris...
has been telling me about his new track, The Smell of Heather, and its unique inspiration; what it was like putting together the video and whether there is more material coming along – he recommends some rising artists to look out for.
I ask how music came to him and whether he has three favourite albums; how he spends time away from music and the advice he would give to emerging artists right now – Harris selects a cool song to end the interview with.
Hi, Roman. How are you? How has your week been?
Heya. I’m alive, I’m well; I’m grateful to be here, so all is good. It has been a very demanding week but really exciting too - releasing new music is always exciting.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourself, please?
Well. I’d have to start with a ‘hello and nice to meet you’. Now that we’ve got that out the way...I’m that fusion of Indie, Folk and R&B that you didn’t know existed but will be truly happy you found.
The Smell of Heather is your latest track. Is there a story attached to the song?
I think many of the best songs ever written have a story attached to them - and The Smell of Heather is no different. I came across a book of poetry called Heather’s Book, written by the poet Vivian Anglin. It was an honest, compassionate and raunchy collection of poetry that told the story of the relationship between a man who wanted to see a woman beat her addiction and a woman whose addiction was forever pulling her away. The first poem in the book was entitled The Smell of Heather and it was this poem that inspired the song. The poem starts:
“The smell of Heather still lingers in my room/She came in a hurry and left too soon”
It’s these lines that form the idea for the chorus of the song. I would definitely encourage people to read this book as much as I would encourage them to listen to the song.
Its video is out. How involved did you get regarding the concept?
Yes, indeed! The video is out now and available to the world on YouTube. The concept was more or less already there, since the song tells a story but the director, Ngadi Vandy, was responsible for bringing it all together and Olucreates was the man behind the camera. They were a great team.
I must also tip my hat to Yana Penrose, Pete Hardingham and Kaid Hussain who were the actors in the video. They were all so fantastic to work with. I gave some artistic guidance here and there but, for the most part, I let the creatives do their thing and they did great
Might there be more material coming later in the year?
I’m glad you asked...
The Smell of Heather is just the start for 2019. I’ll be releasing more material throughout the year with my next single, Get Me Got Me, coming soon. But, for now, it’s all about The Smell of Heather and getting as many ears onto this song as possible.
The Smell of Heather is your debut song. How long were you writing music and experimenting before then?
Oh, wow! I’ve been writing for years now, mostly for other artists. My first break came with a song called Falling produced by Snakehips featuring Malika and released through Sony Music Entertainment. This song opened up a number of doors for me and was followed up by my first featured release entitled Moving Again produced by Cr3on and Marcus and released through PM Recordings in the Netherlands. Although I love writing for other people, it was a burning desire to make a mark with my own music and my own sound. That’s what has led me to where I am now.
You are from Brixton in South London. Do you draw any inspiration from the people and sounds around you?
Brixton is a fantastic part of London. The streets of Brixton are filled with stories and inspiration but I’d be lying if I said it was only Brixton that I drew inspiration from. That area is a major part of my life, my upbringing and my creative world. However, I was also raised for many years in Georgetown, Guyana and have travelled to other parts of the world, including Africa, Australia; America, the Caribbean. The list goes on, so I draw inspiration from everywhere I go; every experience I have and every person that I meet.
When did music come into your life? Did you have favourite artists as a child?
Music was in my life from as early as I can remember. I would love looking through my parents’ record collection. The artwork was so captivating and there was something so special about vinyl that a whole generation may sadly never understand. Growing up Prince, Guns N’ Roses, Snoop Doggy Dog; Jimi Hendrix, even Alice Cooper were played in my house. But, as far as a favourite artist, that’s easy and for every child I’m sure it was the same…Phil Collins!
Ahhhh, I’m just kidding. Although Phil is a legend, it was Michael Jackson! Thriller! Bad! Come on! I remember the Bad album cover. I would dress all in black and stick clothes pegs on myself to try and recreate the look of the jacket he was wearing.
Oh, the shame!
Have you got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
There’s been some really amazing moments thus far but I think my favourite memory in music has been watching a crowd of people vibe to a song that I wrote. Looking at their faces and the joy that they were feeling from hearing it while they were also totally oblivious to the fact that I had anything to do with creating it. Some may say that’s strange but it was that feeling of being on the outside and seeing people genuinely enjoy something, not because they know I had something to do with it but simply because they really love it that much.
That was priceless.
Which three albums mean the most to you would you say (and why)?
8701 – Usher
This album was the soundtrack to my first serious relationship. I was fifteen-years-old and every time I listen to this album it takes me back to those early years of relationship innocence and those feelings surface all over again. It makes me smile.
Parachutes – Coldplay
What a beautiful album. Parachutes was my introduction to Coldplay and there was just something so honest and warm about those songs and the songwriting that I instantly fell in love with their work. It also timestamps a very pivotal period in my life when I’d returned to the U.K. from Guyana and was about embark on a whole new life direction. The title of the album almost fits in with the sentiment. It’s almost as though they were my parachute easing me to a safe landing.
The Battle of Los Angeles – Rage Against the Machine
Sometimes, you meet people and they open up your musical world. I was in a three-piece band once upon a time and the bass player introduced me to R.A.T.M. and this album. Mind Blowing! These guys were amazing; knew how to rock and had such a strong message. One of the best albums ever!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
I’d absolutely love to support Foy Vance. The guy just makes it all look so effortless, his songs are crafted so beautifully and he holds an audience with such charisma. There’s a lot to learn from a man like that, not to mention he’s Irish and the Irish are amongst my favourite people.
Now, to my rider. This is not going to be very Rock and Roll and also far from diva-ish. I do like healthy eating so loads of water, fruit; salads, red wine and my guilty pleasure: mince pies with double cream.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
I’d give this advice to new artists, old artists and those somewhere in-between. Firstly, ‘it’s always too early to quit’. Keeping that dream alive for just one more day may be all you need to see it come to fruition. Secondly, do not let social media rule you. These days nothing can break your will faster than spending ages looking at the lives of others. Thirdly and finally, love to create.
Fall in love over and over again with the buzz of creating something new and try your best to remember why you do this. We’re privileged to be able to make something from nothing. Never forget that and never take it for granted.
Do you think there are going to be any tour dates coming up?
Watch this space. The best way to do that is to follow me online - for social media it’s @iamromanharris - or keep an eye on my website.
IN THIS PHOTO: MALIKA
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I think it’s so important to find ways to relax and unwind. It’s the only way that we can come back and bring the best so I always make time for me. Whether that be going to the gym, movies; travelling or just lying in bed all day watching re-runs of The Fresh Prince. I find a way to relax but I always find my way back to doing what I love. Making sweet music.
Finally, and for being a good sport; you can choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
The song I’d like to choose is called Untitiled by Rodney P featuring Lanre Sulola and produced by Max Cyrus Music. It’s a really great and powerful song and different to a lot of what you hear at the moment
Follow Roman Harris