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HARRY FOX talks music business, hustle energy and nerves ahead of debut EP release

27 September 2018 | 9:21 am | Clare Neal

HARRY FOX is the new project and moniker for Brisbane artist Harry Bell. With over a decade of musical knowledge and experience behind him...

HARRY FOX is the new project and moniker for Brisbane artist Harry Bell. With over a decade of musical knowledge and experience behind him, playing in indie-rock bands, producing hip-hop beats and being a club DJ, it has been a long journey for FOX to get where he’s at right now- on the brink of releasing his debut solo EP, Circles. 

Creating this body of work has been a true passion project for FOX, as he has navigated the trials and tribulations of music business alone after several years with management, sourced his own collaborators and written tracks about his life over the past few years. The title track from the EP, which featured the vocals of Melbourne newcomer Attila Mora, was released a few months ago to critical acclaim, reaching first place in the Triple J Unearthed Dance charts. Now, Circles is set to be released this Friday, September 28th. Purple Sneakers caught up with HARRY FOX to discuss the hard work, the passion and the nerves ahead of the big day…

You’re about to release your debut EP, Circles, and you’re doing it independently after being involved with agencies in the past. Was this a conscious decision made by you?

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I mean, it wasn’t really my choice. My previous manager and I parted ways on their behalf… [sad laughing] They left me! But it actually turned out to be a blessing in the end because all of the negative feelings I had about that and the scariness of doing this big music thing on your own turned into hustle energy. I just sort of got angry and got busy and started working on everything myself. I wish I could have done it earlier if I could have foreseen the split, but at least everything gets to be on my own terms now. I really love that.

Do you feel like choosing to do all of the music business stuff yourself rather than go out seeking new management was a good choice? Are you going to look for new management or just wait for the right person to rock up?

I’ve talked about it with a couple of people and lots of my friends in the music industry and we have all agreed that management either needs to be someone who’s higher up than you with some crazy different circles to you. Someone that can really leverage their connections to get you into some crazy new places. That OR someone that you know and trust that can just work like a bulldog and just bust down doors with you at your level. I don’t really have either of those at the moment so I’m very happy to just build my own thing until the right person comes along.

So you have been building your own thing and going really well with it and received some good traction online with Triple J and platforms like that. How have you found the whole process from a business perspective?

Well, I’ve always not taken to the promotional side of music very well. Like, social media kind of gives me anxiety, if I’m being honest. I just wish I could make songs in a cave all day, but if you make songs in a cave all day then not many people are going to hear them. You need to put them out into the world if you really want feedback and to elicit emotional responses and give people something, which is really what I want to do. So it’s not been something that I’ve been loving but I’ve got to do it to do the things that I want to do. 

Absolutely! So let’s talk about the EP. You’ve worked with a lot of different genres over the years, starting off a little bit indie-rock and then moving into hip-hop and being a DJ. Having been in all of these situations, how did you come to settle on the style that we’re going to hear in Circles?

Like you said, it’s been a pretty long journey. I started out playing the drums when I was ten and I’ve always been interested in writing music and naturally using computers came to me pretty quickly when I was in high school. So with those two skills, it allowed me to really chase whatever I wanted. First I wanted to be in an indie rock band and play samples up the back and keys and stuff and then I wanted to be a straight out EDM DJ and then I’ve always been producing hip-hop in the background as well. So HARRY FOX is the culmination of everything that I’ve tried over the years in terms of style and method. I consolidated it all naturally into the one project. The drums were starting to get a certain sound that was really funky and off-beat and the synths were always dark and moody and there’s always some emotion. I guess I make moody dance music because I’m a moody dance music kind of guy [laughs].

Would you say that Australia has a reputation now for having all of this left of centre electronic artists coming through and that the environment here has helped that?

Dead set. There’s obviously Flume, What So Not, Slumberjack, I could go on. There’s all of these really cool dudes and gals, coming from Australia who make really unique dance music and are really incredible exports to the rest of the world. Australians love a festival. We love a good boogie, so I feel like it’s only natural that this melting pot churns out some unique individuals that are going to make some pretty interesting music.

And speaking of really cool and unique individuals, the Circles EP features some vocals from artists who seem to fit that description. How did you go about finding these artists yourself and how did you know that they were the voices you wanted to use on the tracks?

Most of them I found on Triple J Unearthed to be honest. It’s an amazing resource because you can find all these cool people doing really cool things. I feel really blessed to have that, especially with the support they’ve shown for the EP so far. I found Attila Mora and Xavier Mayne through Unearthed and their tracks are definitely the two most bangin’ tracks on the EP. I just sent them an e-mail and were like yep, let’s link up and do it, which is amazing. It’s the power of the internet. Conversely, Declan Florez and Adelina Martinez are people that I’ve worked with before and gone to uni with and they’ve helped me create the more subtle cuts at the beginning and end of the EP.

Nice, so Circles officially comes out at the end of this week. Are you nervous or excited? Where are your emotions at this point?

Oh, all of the above. I’m so proud of it and I think it’s the best first step I can take as HARRY FOX. I’m really proud to stand behind it as a body of work and I think it goes through some interesting emotions and tells a story about what’s happened to me over the past few years whilst I’ve been writing it. I feel like it’s really honest and the sounds and the style of it is really unique and competitive with everything thats going on at the moment in music. So, I’m really excited for people to hear it in full.

And this is your first solo project that you’re ever going to release- congratulations by the way!

[laughs] Thanks!

Do you think that the style you’ve gone with for this body of work would have happened if it weren’t for all the group projects you’ve been involved with over the years? 

I think it took a long time for me to settle on who I wanted to be and how I wanted to sound. I’ve always had big dreams of playing on big stages and playing my songs to people that know them and having them sing back to me. I want to create these beautiful moments with people because that’s what music has done for me and I’ve always wanted to give that back. I think I’ve got the drive and the creative flow to make it happen if I just keep at it. I’m a bit of an antisocial-extrovert, like once you get me in a room full of people I love it, but I also need a long time by myself to recharge and normally I’m making tunes whilst I’m doing that. HARRY FOX is a really good representation of that. I love being at festivals and big stages but I also love the music on the lonely drive home. 

Circles come out everywhere on September 28th, 2018.


Interview by Clare Neal.