15 Dec 2017

Inside the world of Aldous Harding

From Nine To Noon, 10:10 am on 15 December 2017

Singer-songwriter Aldous Harding talks to Kathryn Ryan about self-belief, self-preservation and how she's become obsessed with live performance.

It has been a big year for Aldous Harding – as well as winning multiple awards and accolades for her second album Party, she toured for 11 months of the year.

Aldous talks to Kathryn Ryan about self-belief, self-preservation and her obsession with live performance.

On being a musician:

"I like doing it. It seems to be an innate thing, so I could do this as a job. It's quite a life and it's quite exciting. Not everyone has the chances that I've had to do it.

"There's a lot of 'Just do it. There's nothing wrong here' … I just decided a while ago I can do anything with this, and I truly believe that.

"I've got a very intense rewarding job … without this, I have no idea what kind of state I'd be in.

"I"m just trying to put on a good show and I'm trying to sing in tune."

On performing:

"I've become incredibly obsessed with my live performance and what that looks like and is that how I want it to look.

"There's not really anything real about any of this… it's a plan, it's a performance.

"I'm a person who feels a lot of emotion and complicated like everybody so there is always realness, but it's very much a show and a thing, and I'm not afraid of that."

On playing live without the "blanket" of alcohol:

"Music is my priority, but I'm learning that I need to be OK to do it. Looking after myself is kind of a new thing I've been trying.

"You learn pretty quickly that you're not special. And that everyone's got a love story with chemicals and it does not make you just automatically fantastic.

"That was quite embarrassing to go ... 'That's not cute and I don't feel good'."

On the single 'Horizon':

"I guess it's like a middle finger, the kind of finger you pull at somebody as you walk away. I guess it's sort of pulling the finger at myself, but also pulling the finger at this person in case they pulled the finger at me, but I already pulled the finger at them 'cause there's a subconscious defeat… In all the ways I am able to love I don't know that I believe in a lasting form of it, or even if I did that I could do it, that I'm good enough. And also is he good enough and what's the difference?"

On 'Living the Classics' – one of her favourite songs on Party:

"I'm talking about my music career and embracing the pressure and welcoming the pressure and welcoming criticism and the challenges that I knew would show up trying to be successful with this weird stuff .. I wrote it at a confident time and a hungry period. It's not like the others, it's got a bounciness that's quite sweet."

On shooting the video for 'Blend' (in which she dances in a blue bikini, gun holsters and cowboy boots in homage to a scene from her favourite film Apocalypse Now):

"It was a lot of fun ... I had to drink a bottle of wine to be able to get into that costume and then in front of the camera.

"I saw myself in the mirror and went 'I've gotta do this now because all these people have shown up and Auntie's done the tan for me and the songs all cued up, money's been spent. I did it and I'm glad I did it. I knew it would work."

On the advice she and fellow singer-songwriter Nadia Reid give each other:

"Nadia suggested that I be a bit more grateful … There was a time I was quite resentful of all this beautiful stuff I was allowed to do. she was like 'Do you want to throw a bit more gratefulness in there?' I was like 'No... but probably'.

"Or she'll go 'Oh, I'm tired'. I'm like 'No, you don't know what tired is yet.'

Aldous Harding will perform at the 2018 WOMAD festival on Friday, March 16 and Saturday, March 17.

Check out the rest of RNZ Music's WOMAD coverage.