Interview With Seattle’s Most Hypnotic Band – HARLEY

May 29th – Having just released their latest single ‘HYPNOS‘, Seattle-based dream pop band HARLEY is on a roll. Their previously released singles, including ‘Babe, I’m A Mess‘, and ‘Japan‘, garnered the band a significant following, and this new song is sure to solidify their place as an up and coming group to keep an eye on. Alternative Sound was able to talk with the members of HARLEY about their music, their influences, and what keeps them motivated as musicians!

First off, tell us your name, where you’re from, and a little bit about what you do! 
Hi! Thanks for having us! We are HARLEY! A dream – pop three – piece. Cade James Carl (frontman), Kimo Combs (drummer), and Tristan Woods (bass).  We are all from the Seattle – Tacoma area in Washington State. All of us have various goals and passions outside the band, but HARLEY is built on the foundation of our endless love for music and our love for each other as brothers – there’s no one else we’d rather be pursuing our true passions with.
What made you pursue music? Did you always know you wanted to be a musician?
One fact is constant in the band: we all started playing music young, and the passion for those instruments sonically has been unshakeable.  Cade, our lead vocalist and lead synth/piano, has wanted this from day one. He based that your biggest passion can be your best contribution to yourself and to the world.  Kimo (drummer) has long had aspirations to be a prevalent businessly, and yet has always had such a love for music that his desire to be a part of HARLEY has essentially found equal ground with his other greatest passions. Tristan, our bassist, did not know he wanted to pursue being a musician until more recently, but has been essentially obsessed with music and it’s intricacies his whole life.
Who would you say are your biggest influences?
Our influences range, but the first that always come to mind for us are LANY, the 1975, Lauv and COIN. These artists have built music that expresses raw emotion to the fullest
How did HARLEY form? How long have you been a band?
HARLEY actually became a band playing pick-up basketball. We started talking music on the court and got together after to start writing and playing music.
What do you want people to get out of your music?
What our listeners get out of our music is our most important focus, that “meaningful purpose” Our goal – in our lyrics, our composition, our tone, and our overall soundscape – is to create music that makes you feel as though you are experiencing the emotion that the song focuses on while the song is playing.  We want to make music that perfectly plucks the chords of emotions that we all experience, such as happiness, sadness, frustration, loneliness, despair, and so on.  We never want people to feel alone when they are experiencing these emotions – we want to be there for them, musically, through all of these emotions so that the listener feels as though our songs are a conduit or outlet for these emotions.  All that being said, our music-making process becomes extremely meticulous, because we do our best to sit down and find the perfect tones, chords, and words that express those emotions most accurately – if one tiny thing is off, it can take the listener out of the mood of the song, and our primary goal is not accomplished.  If you want a song to cry to, we will do everything we can to find a piano that is so beautiful in tone that it brings those emotions to the forefront even if you are not sad.  If a song is about feeling alone, we will do everything we can to create space in that song musically, thus simulating the emotion for the listener.
You said you’re from Tacoma, how has the city influenced your writing?
Tacoma is a city that has become known for self-expression and individuality – there is not a better environment we can think of for meeting our goals.  Sure, larger cities like Los Angeles and New York have larger music scenes, naturally, but there is an inherent quality to Tacoma that is hard to describe – it’s simply hard not to fall in love with the city.  The people there support art and its expression, and have a genuine pride for where they live.
Has there been a stand-out moment for you as an artist where you felt extremely proud, passionate, excited, or anything like that? Anything that made you think ‘yeah, this is worth it’?
There have certainly been many of those instances for us, but a feeling that really stands out for us is the feeling of finishing a song – not even referring to reviews or attention we get from fans of the music after it is released, but rather the feeling we experience before the song is even out.  The high of feeling like a song that you have poured your heart into is finally finished, and you have no more tweaks to make, is incredible.  We may want to reach our fans, but in the end, we are all just musicians who love to work our craft, making us no different from the largest artists, such as LANY, to the smallest artists who have barely started playing their instruments.  Fame and fortune is an added blessing that is a potential outcome of making music, sure, but the feeling of simply creating something that you are proud of and are attached to always makes us say, “yeah, this is worth it”, even if no one were to listen to our music.
Musicians face a lot of challenges, from rejection to financial expenses to writer’s block. How do you stay positive while dealing with the negative parts of making music?
it is always important to check your perspective.  Almost always, when struggling with these common problems of a musician, it is endlessly encouraging to realize how much failure those who have gone before us had to experience before they “made it”.  Of course, this is somewhat cliche, but really, what else can you do?  Some of the biggest artists in the world today were grinding as musicians for ten plus years before they even received a sliver of recognition, and many were left with nothing after the financial cost of musicianship bit them in the butt.  As long as you always keep a grounded perspective, remembering that the situation could always be worse, and remembering that the only way out is forward, you cannot fail – at the very least, you gain valuable life experience and a strong work ethic.
What is your writing process like?
For a while, Cade was our main source for lyrics, as he is an incredibly gifted songwriter.  However, we came to an agreement as a band that since we were a band, we should speak with one collective voice – so, we started writing lyrics together.  Often, we will just sit in a room and talk about situations or feelings that provoke emotional responses, until an idea for a song is born.  Once that happens, we work through the lyrics and melodies, line by line, all together.
Speaking of writing, your latest single, ‘HYPNOS’ is coming out on May 27th! What can you tell us about the song?
HYPNOS lives in the space right after the break up when everything is still raw and emotional like right after the shock of it. The timing when the self-doubt kicks in and you start to question everything, This song is essentially part 2 of Babe, I’m a Mess – a song we released last year about Kimo’s [drummer] most recent heartbreak. The feelings lingered so it made sense to do another track on it.
She bailed on him that night so he ended up hanging out with me (Cade James Carl – frontman) and some other friends. She apparently didn’t like that, started a fight via text, and then called him just to dump him. Watching it all happen was jarring enough so we decided to write two songs based on that night, those moments, and the bouquet of emotions I watched unfold.
What has it been like, seeing this single go from an idea to now ready for release?
Honestly, it’s been a dream come true.  As a still relatively young band, we feel like we are finally hitting our stride – we are discovering our core sound, building our brand, and learning how to best work together as a team while doing so.  When a band is young, complications can arise from simply how many different thought processes and opinions are flying around.  With three band members and a producer, it makes a world of difference when all of those people begin to naturally come together and think with one mind, while also learning how to maintain their own views and opinions that make them unique.  We have felt, through the process of this song especially, that we have finally found that balance.
What’s next for you? Do you have anything in the works?
With this being our fifth single, we certainly have our sights set on releasing a project as soon as we are able to. We’re looking at an EP, live sessions, music videos, and tours after Covid calms down and venues re-open.
What’s the #1 reason why everyone should check out your music?
We believe that self-reflection and the exploring of one’s own emotions is a vital process of life, and that music helps individuals do both of these all over the world.  In our opinion, there isn’t much better music to listen to than ours in that sense. HARLEY is perfect for long drives at night, for after a break-up, or for when you want to relax and tune out the troubles of the world.
Any last words you’d like to add?
We’d just love to thank you for caring enough about us and our music to take time to learn about us, and would love to remind both fans and readers to always remember this one thing: you have a voice, and you matter.  Express your passions and talents. Be you.

Stay connected with HARLEY on social media! Follow them on Spotify and Instagram to keep up with everything they have going on!

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