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BEDROOM CHATS WITH TANAYA HARPER

Tanaya Harper by ANNIE HARVEY
Tanaya Harper by ANNIE HARVEY

Around The Sound had the pleasure of speaking with Perth indie pop singer-songwriter, Tanaya Harper, ahead of the release of her third EP, Montreal, which dropped last Friday. Chatting to each other from the comfort of our own bedrooms, it felt like talking to an old friend with the openness and vulnerability Tanaya offered on topics such as writing about breakups and her mental health journey.

“It’s funny because people use the word brave and I don’t feel like I’m brave at all. I feel like the most important thing is never be ashamed of what you’re thinking and feeling.”

Tanaya Harper

Montreal is a short yet sweet collection of four songs written over the span of six months as a way of processing turmoil within a relationship and its subsequent breakdown. Self-admittedly channelling Taylor Swift energy, Harper’s main source of inspiration stems from her emotions, in particular, the ones that linger after a breakup.

“Writing about a breakup comes pretty easy because it’s such an immersive experience. You’re still trying to live your life and work your job and study your degree, then you’ve got all of this stuff in your head, happening all the time. You can’t escape it. It’s a bit of a cyclone, you know? But then the process of writing is trying to structure those thoughts,” she says.

Harper’s lyrics feel like they have been torn straight from the pages of her diary – they are raw, vulnerable and unfiltered. Paired with her signature nostalgic and dreamy 90’s sound, Tanaya Harper offers up tracks in Montreal such as upbeat opener, ‘Emma’, and mellow yet punchy, ‘Bad Faith’, which slowly builds to an emotional crescendo of soaring, raw vocals. Title track, ‘Montreal’, transports the EP to a slower, dreamier place, then finally, we are left with, ‘Slow Motion Breakup 2.0’. The closing track features heavy, heart-wrenching guitars paired with Harper’s sweet, airy voice repeating, I don’t wanna see you anymore. ‘Slow Motion Breakup 2.0’ is short and fleeting, yet wraps up the first side of the vinyl with a neat little bow through accepting that the relationship has reached an end.

Montreal also features a B-side of live recordings captured during Harper’s performance at Tender Is The Night, an intimate backyard gig, last year. Luckily for her fans, Harper is highly considerate of their listening experience and included these bonus tracks with their best interests at heart.

“I’m a really, really, really big hater of having to flip the vinyl after two songs. I’m like: you bastards, why couldn’t you just put four songs on each side? That’s just ridiculous.”

To avoid a very inconvenient and sudden vinyl flip, Montreal’s B side features a selection of Tanaya Harper’s previously released songs from her first two EPs, Some Kinds and Slow Motion Break Up. These live recordings are stripped back, raw and enchanting, complete with soft strums of guitar and swirling strings. This particular gig ended up being an especially significant one for Harper:

“The whole time I was singing I was really self conscious because Ghost Care had just come off three weeks with Spacey Jane and my voice was completely gone. But then when I listened to the recordings, it’s like that adrenaline kicks in and your voice just kind of happens to exist for an hour of singing.”

Harper was thrilled with how the recordings turned out and reflects that we are often our own worst critic.

“It’s so funny how hard artists are on themselves. It was a big moment. It was like an ‘a-ha! Maybe I’ll never beat myself up again’, if I can avoid it,” she says.

Not one to shy away from challenging emotions, many of Harper’s earlier songs explore her experiences with anxiety, depression and bipolar. Tanaya says it’s just what makes sense for her to write about.

“Some people gravitate towards writing about society and politics, some people gravitate towards singing about family, I really find that what naturally comes out is the experiences – what my brain is doing at that time, what I’m thinking… and that I know that what I’m thinking might not be real,” Tanaya says.

She muses that being a little older and a little wiser, taking the right medication and keeping certain people out of your life has meant that this is something she doesn’t experience as much anymore.

“If you’re able to become aware of those things and do what you need to in order to make life easier for yourself, you’ll probably stop writing about mental health as much because your mental health is improving,” Harper says.

It is admirable how candid and open Tanaya Harper is throughout our chat. I use the word ‘brave’ at one point to describe her willingness to write and release songs about mental health.

“It’s funny because people use the word brave and I don’t feel like I’m brave at all. I feel like the most important thing is never be ashamed of what you’re thinking and feeling,” she says.

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Follow Tanaya Harper – FACEBOOK INSTAGRAM

You can catch Tanaya Harper at Lyric’s Underground in Maylands for her Montreal EP Launch on Saturday 2 October. Get tickets here.

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