Darren Hart, best known by his stage name Harts, is a Melbourne-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer. Creating music that blends elements from electronic indie to blues to psychedelic rock, the artist has been praised by Rolling Stone, NME, and even had Prince saying “he reminds me of how I was at that age”.
His next album Kings, Queens, and All Big Things is set for release in November, with Harts telling Music Feeds the release will contain 11 or 12 tracks. The singer-songwriter will also be heading on a tour of Aus in November, plus releasing a second new album in the coming months!
We caught up with Harts to chat about his tour excitement, the two albums he’s going to release soon, and how performing a Jimi Hendrix cover helped him become friends with Hendrix’s nephew.
Music Feeds: What are you most looking forward to about being back on tour?
Harts: I’m looking forward to playing new songs. I’m looking forward to bringing a new kind of, band. This is the first time I’m playing with I guess, a bigger band. Some of the shows, the bigger ones like Melbourne and stuff will be a seven-piece band. It’s the first time I’m playing with a bigger set up; I’m looking forward to that. I’m looking forward to the feedback from the audience, as well. I’ve been asked a lot of times over the years ‘when are you gonna expand the band?’ ’cause I’ve done so many shows with just myself, and then just like, the three-piece. So, I’m looking forward to bringing that together for the first time and putting all that on.
MF: Did you do the arranging for the band?
H: Yeah, I did! So, I did all the arrangements and I guess, all the changes in all the songs and stuff. It was a bit of a process and we’re still kind of getting there, but in the next couple of weeks we’ll nail it all and be excited to take it on the road.
MF: You’ve released six singles this year, so far. Do you have plans for an album?
H: Yeah! So, the album’s coming out in early November. That’s one of the albums. There’s another album coming a few months later, I just haven’t got those release dates together. So, yeah, there’s two albums on the way; one will be here very soon.
MF: Do you know how many tracks each of the albums will have?
H: Yeah, the first one that’s coming out in November has 12 tracks on it, that might change to 11, I’m just like, last-minute deciding on something [laughs]. At the moment it has 12 tracks on it. The next one has 10 tracks on it.
MF: Do you have names for them?
H: Yeah, the first one is called Queens, Kings and All Big Things. The second one I don’t have a name for… well, I do, but I haven’t announced anything yet, so I don’t want to spoil that second one.
But this one, the Queens, Kings and All Big Things album, I’m really proud about. It’s really coming together nicely. I’m just with the final touches on it right now, then schedule it for release.
MF: How does it differ from previous releases you’ve done?
H: It’s different in terms of its, I guess, fundamental musical style, in its production. I think I’ve really stepped up my production game from the last records I’ve released, and this record sounds better, just sonically. In terms of its context, and I guess instrumentation and stuff, it’s similar to the last record. It’s a progression as in it’s a, I guess it’s a sequel in the series, kind of thing. So, it continues on the from the last record. I think it picks up where the last one left off, in a way.
MF: What made you want to release two albums so close to each other? Did you just have a lot of songs?
H: Yeah, pretty much! I just had heaps of different material I was writing that was not really… like, they wouldn’t have worked on one big album. I felt like it was probably better to split them up because that second one is like a lot more bluesy, rock n roll, that kind of guitar-based rock kind of side of me. That Jimi Hendrix type of vibe, that’s like the second album vibe.
The first one’s more I guess, a traditional Harts album in that it’s got all the funk elements. It’s also got all that soul and that gospel edge as well as like, a little bit of jazz and that kind of stuff. So, the first one’s more of your traditional Harts album. The second one’s like an experimental… just an album of really big riffs and stuff [laughs] a big rock album.
So, I kind of split it up like that just because the material was so different to each other, and they didn’t really fit together, contextually, if I was to try and put it all onto one album.
MF: You seem to have quite a diverse range of sounds you create; do you have any influences that people might not expect?
H: I think it’s come to a point where people kind of know who I am within, like music, and my influences because of that. I think, you know, there’s been so many influences over the years and everything inspires me, that I think the Harts sound can’t really be… I guess it can’t really be put into a box and say it’s influenced by specific people, ’cause it’s really hard.
I can say like, the big main influences are obviously Prince, and Jimi Hendrix, and Stevie Wonder, Earth, Wind, Fire, Eisley Brothers, a lot of that old-school funk and blues stuff, but then there’s heaps of other influences! Like, just compositions like Elton John or like, music scores, for example, Hans Zimmer and stuff like that. Like, I’m really into scoring as well.
I dunno, it’s kind of everything. I know that’s like a super vague [laughs] answer to say, but I don’t really know if I have a core bunch of influences anymore. I think it’s just like a melted pot of everything that I like.
MF: What’s your favourite memory from playing music?
H: There’s many favourites! One of my favourites was when I was playing a show in New York and it was a tiny, tiny place, and I got told that Jimi Hendrix’s nephew was in the audience. He came to see me ’cause he heard about, I guess, my story and stuff. I was really nervous, but I ended up playing for him and a bunch of other people that came out with him, and just for a little bit of a laugh, I didn’t know who he was, but I chucked in like, a Hendrix cover at the end of the set! I played ‘Voodoo Child’. I didn’t know if that was gonna be in bad taste or not, but I thought ‘this I the only opportunity I’m ever going to be able to do something like this’ so I took it, and I played the Hendrix cover, and I met him after the show. He came up to me and he said he loved it, said it was so good and stuff, and since then we became friends!
That was such a good memory for me because after the Prince thing, my only idol that was kind of left was Jimi Hendrix and to get someone from the Hendrix family to give me positivity and give me encouragement and say I’m doing great things is another big tick off my bucket list.
So, I kind of got the tick of approval from the Hendrix estate that night, which was amazing!
MF: That’s so cool! Is there anything else you’d like to mention today?
H: I’m just really excited to be putting out new music in album form. I know a lot of it’s already heard already because they’re the singles, but there’s still a lot more on the record for people to listen to.
I’m really excited about the tour! I can’t wait to see how this comes about. It’s coming together really well in the rehearsals, but when you take it to the stage it’s like a whole other level. So, I’m really excited to see how the audience enjoys the tour, and how the audience enjoys the new music and the new albums coming!
Catch Harts touring live across the country next month Dates here.