New kid on the block Harvey Causon has been turning heads in the music industry with his velvety, soulful voice and authentic blend of atmospheric instrumentation, dulcet guitar tones and glitching electronica. Having moved to Bristol in 2016, Harvey has slowly been building himself a local fan base and at a mere 20 years old his level of creativity, determination and sheer raw talent is hardly possible to conceive.
It was Harvey’s self-produced Introspect EP released at the end of 2016 that inducted him to a number of one-to-watch lists. The collection of songs inspired by indie, soul, jazz, hip hop and rhythm-driven electronica was an impressive first glimpse into what to expect from the burgeoning songwriter and producer.
A distinctive voice combined with hypnotic grooves and delicate lyricism earned him attention from some big names in the business, including Mercury Prize nominee Loyle Carner
A distinctive voice combined with hypnotic grooves and delicate lyricism earned him attention from some big names in the business, including Mercury Prize nominee Loyle Carner, who offered Harvey an opening slot at the Norwich leg of his Autumn 2016 tour after hearing the Cabrakid remix of his track Systems. It wasn’t long before the success of Introspect also culminated in a place on Bristol label Leisure Records’ roster, where he released his next single Frisson in 2017, along with a masterful rework of Alliance, which he demoed on his debut EP.
Harvey’s latest release, Worn You, is a track from his forthcoming collaborative EP with flatmate and producer Gabriel Gifford, formerly known as Allergy Kid and one half of hip hop duo Cabrakid. As well as the remix on his first EP, Gabriel was one of two musicians to remix Frissons, the other being breakout Bristol musician Henry Green.
Worn You is the first fully collaborative work from the duo, and came about by happy accident. While Harvey was writing on piano in his bedroom, Gabriel was working on his own beats next door. The two sounds melded together and an epiphany moment happened. The resulting song offers up ambient piano, unusual chords, dub-tinged percussion and mellifluous vocals we can’t get enough of.
We caught up with Harvey as he took some rare time away from making music to talk about his whirlwind year, the forthcoming EP and what’s in store for 2018. Calm and understated, it is clear that this talented youngster is diving head first into his music career with an enthusiasm and determination that is rarely paralleled.
So far, Harvey has managed to establish himself as an artist whilst keeping everything within a small circle of friends and acquaintances. Understandably, he is eager to maintain this high degree of creative autonomy and keep a DIY approach for as long as possible. He tells us about his and Gabriel’s plans to help create a scene for themselves here in Bristol by creating their own independent record label, to release their own projects, as well as some of their friends.
We want to have this blanket name that we can all individually release music under
‘We want to have this blanket name that we can all individually release music under. Myself and Gabe have this idea for a record label that we’ll call Off-Kilter. We want to create something in Bristol that links with Norwich, as a lot of us come from that end of the country including Maya Law, who is someone that we would like to release music with.’
But in the meantime, their full collaborative EP, titled Murphy’s Hand, is due to drop imminently. Judging from their first release, we can expect a sonic marriage made in heaven with their fresh combination of powerful instrumentation, sumptuous vocals, dexterous beats and pristine production.
On the EP’s title track, Harvey explains: ‘Murphy’s Hand is about our friend Frasier, who is a crazy, lovely boy. He never had a phone on him and never got involved in social media, so the song is about how much we appreciate that about him.’
Harvey has been gaining a lot of attention for his solo material, receiving airtime from BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6 Music
This collaborative release aside, Harvey has been gaining a lot of attention for his solo material, receiving airtime from BBC Radio 1, 1Xtra and 6 Music. The talented musician has also earned support slots for the likes of Puma Blue at the Crofters Rights, Hazel English at The Louisiana, and Goan Dogs at Thekla last month, as well as completing a Maida Vale session for BBC Introducing in the West as part of their annual showcase of local talent.
‘Playing at Maida Vale was a massive highlight for me. We had such a good time. We were warned it was going to be a brilliant and amazing experience and it really was. The engineers and the history of that place is great.’
While it’s easy to get swept up in the production side of Harvey’s music, his lyrical talent is undeniable. He explains the inspiration for Frisson, a romantic term for the goosebumps you can get from listening to music that touches you in one way or another. Harvey was interested in seeing whether there was a way of inducing that reaction, and whether or not people use that as a barometer for what makes good music.
‘I was doing a lot of research at the time about how harmony works anthropologically, and how all harmony and melody is based on rhythm and polyrhythms and how they’re all sped up in different ratios. It interested me to think about how music can be perceived so differently. For example, how you can love something more than I can.
It interested me to think about how music can be perceived so differently. For example, how you can love something more than I can
‘Different cultures around the world grow up to different melodic structures’, Harvey continues, ‘like raga music is very dissonant and based on minor chords and minor progressions and they see that music as being very happy, whereas we see major chords as being happy. I wanted to explore more into what that distinction was and why different people around the world are affected differently by music.
‘I wanted to see whether it was down to bass, for example, or lyrical relation to you that evokes past memories and nostalgia. Though thinking about all this stuff fucked me up a bit, so I thought, let’s shut it down and try putting it all into a song.
‘The first lyric of the song “servants to the thing that makes the blackbirds sing” is kind of me saying, you know what, none of us can really understand any of this fully, so we’ve just got to accept that we’re servants to the earth. So just enjoy music, rather than try to analyse it.’
Harvey’s well-thought lyrical content, alongside his tendering electronic sequences, flicking guitar strings and rich vocals, sees him set for a fruitful and interesting career and we’re nothing but excited to learn what else he’s set to achieve. Although having only appeared on the radar last year, Harvey’s success has been pretty immediate and there is no doubt his sound is still maturing.
my sound is definitely maturing
‘I listen back to my music a lot and people take the piss out of me for it. It’s just a weird, obsessive thing that I have, where I compare myself to what I’m making now and yeah, my sound is definitely maturing. Especially with Ben and Gabe’s influences, Ben has really brought in a Radiohead, Yussef Kamaal-esque jazz feel to what I make, and then Gabe has a lo-fi hip hop background.’
Harvey’s sound has been described as forward-thinking and filled to the brim with raw ideas, with nods to other contemporary producers like Jamie Isaac, Mount Kimbie and James Blake.
‘I respect artists like James Blake and Mount Kimbie for their sonic landscapes and just field recordings and finding new sounds. I love Nils Frahm for doing that as well. And I think Reggie Snow’s new album is pretty cool, it’s out there and different.’
Though with one of the most distinctive voices to arrive on the scene in recent years, it is clear that Harvey is not trying to follow in anyone’s footsteps. Harvey explains that he likes to stay on top of what’s new and doesn’t want to restrict his music in any way by labelling it.
It would be pretty cool to be part of a new scene and I think electronic music is inevitably the way forward as science is taking over
‘I don’t want to have a specific label, my sound is still changing. People call it post-dubstep, like Mount Kimbie, but I think that’s just like calling something post-modern. Why can’t it be the start of a new genre? It would be pretty cool to be part of a new scene and I think electronic music is inevitably the way forward as science is taking over. I come under that label, I think, because I like synths and I can’t really afford to buy nice ones, so I just make a lot of weird sounds on my computer using VSTs.’
Harvey has clearly been doing something right, as the success of his debut release led him to see out his first festival season last summer with appearances at The Great Escape, Dot To Dot and 2000 Trees Festival. With a return to The Great Escape this year and another Maida Vale session hopefully in the pipeline, it’s obvious that something about Harvey Causon’s live show leave you wanting.
‘Working out the electronic songs can be a pig sometimes, but it’s something I like doing – finding ways to play our electronic songs live and making them slightly different, as I think live performance should not be a replica of what you’ve released. I love playing in a band so it’s important for me to not have session musicians playing my produced songs, it’s got to be friends that I like playing with.’
I love playing in a band so it’s important for me to not have session musicians playing my produced songs, it’s got to be friends that I like playing with
Harvey’s upward trajectory looks pretty solidly set to continue with more solo material to be released alongside several big name support slots, including Tokio Myers at O2 Academy Bristol this April and Adam French at The Louisiana in May. His latest track Worn You has also been selected by BBC Introducing to feature on BBC Radio One, getting plays throughout the whole week beginning 13 April. You can also spot the Worn You video on We The Curious’ big screen in Millenium Square all this month.
It can only be a matter of time before Harvey Causon’s superb songwriting, heart-melting vocals and skilful production finds the massive audience it deserves, so make sure you take the opportunity to catch him live and local while you can – though world domination is far from Harvey’s plans, who for the meantime just wants to keep playing his brilliant live shows.
‘Hopefully I’ll just keep putting out music the same way that I am and hopefully people will enjoy it, my fanbase will grow and I’ll be able to play more gigs.’
HARVEY CAUSON LIVE: 13 April – Tokio Myers (supporting), O2 Academy Bristol; 2 May – Adam French (supporting), The Louisiana
Words by Georgie Partington
Photos by Dominika Scheibinger
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