HRVY On Lessons From Touring & How A Fan Comment On Instagram Helped Write His Latest Single

Harvey Cantwell has been setting the foundations for a very promising career over the past couple of years. Through the release of his debut EP’s ‘Holiday’ and ‘Talk To Ya’, he joined artists like Little Mix, The Vamps, Lawson and Jessie J on tour in the UK and started building a passionate local fanbase.

Through the power of social media, his fan base started expanding and the 21-year-old singer-songwriter was able to embark on his first world tour in 2018 which included a sold-out run of dates in Australia.

Following the conclusion of the tour, he jumped back in the studio feeling even more inspired by what he wanted his sound and vision to be, and started working on his debut album. The first taste of this new directional shift in his artistry was the infectiously penned ‘Million Ways’ and ‘ME BECAUSE OF YOU’.

HRVY was supposed to be returning to Australia in May for shows in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, but Australian Government restrictions on large events due to the coronavirus pandemic means these shows are now being rescheduled.

When they do happen though, HRVY has assured this live show will be even bigger than before with new choreography and the inclusion of a live band.

Pre postponement, we had a chat to HRVY about the world tour and the improvements he’s focused on to deliver a bigger show, as well as the creative process behind his new single ‘ME BECAUSE OF YOU’ and why he loves the art of collaboration.

Music Feeds: What have you been working on to make this tour bigger and bolder creatively?

HRVY: I’ve been working on my dancing and constantly striving to improve myself, so I feel like that aspect is a lot better this time around. And I’ve got a live band, so that’s going to be even bigger as I usually perform with track, and still do, but it’s really cool to add live players to that dynamic.

MF: So how long do rehearsals for a tour like this usually go for? And how intense are they because with the incorporation of dancing and a live band they sound like they can be pretty crazy?

H: We normally do a week and a half of solid rehearsals for dancing, just so everyone confidently knows the direction for each song. Then we spend about 2-3 days with the musicians and pull all the tracks together and make sure everyone knows how to play the songs and that it collectively sounds good.

To be fair, I’ve been doing a lot of shows in the UK so we feel pretty comfortable with most of the set, but like I said I love changing things up and making things more interesting. So yeah usually around 2 weeks.

MF: After going on your first world tour in 2018, what was the biggest thing you learnt about yourself as a live performer and what you wanted to personally work on?

H: For my last tour I discovered that sleep was a really important thing. Because I was a little bit younger, I was really excited to be travelling and I wanted to stay up and explore each city which was fair enough. But when you combine that with jet lag, it would end up ruining me before shows.

I would be so tired, and luckily once I got out onto the stage the adrenaline would kick in and I would be fine, but this tour I need to get a lot more sleep so I’m more prepared for the shows.

These upcoming shows are also a lot longer than our previous ones as I’ve got more songs out and a bigger catalogue to perform, so I’ve just gotta make sure that I’ve got the stamina to make the whole show to look and sound great.

MF: Reflecting on that Australian leg of the tour, what was one of your favourite memories from your time down under?

H: One thing that stands out to me the most is something that initially sounds like a bad thing, but now that I look back on it I think it’s quite funny.

I had such bad jet lag that at the Sydney show I sat backstage and I literally couldn’t keep my eyes open. So I fell asleep and I got woken up about five minutes before I had to go on stage. I’m not a crier but I just started crying because I was so exhausted and I had never felt this feeling before in my life. I didn’t want to go out on stage in the state I was in but I knew I had to.

As soon as I got out onto the stage and started playing the first song, the atmosphere from the fans just made me switch completely. The Australian fans are just mental and the energy they bring to every show is magical. They are so passionate and thinking about that moment makes me so happy and has become a highlight in hindsight even though it could be looked upon as a negative moment.

MF: You’ve toured with some huge names including Little Mix, The Vamps, Jessie J and Lawson. So has there been a piece of advice or a mantra that one of these artists have given you while out on the road that you’ve really held onto?

H: There have definitely been a few! Brad from The Vamps told me about this straw that helps warm my voice up. It sounds really weird but I was struggling warming up before shows while I was on tour with them and he was like “bro, try this straw, just trust me”. I was a bit reluctant at first but basically, it’s a rubber straw that you put it in a bottle and blow into it, and you warm up doing that so you don’t damage your voice. And he basically just gave me some really good advice about warming up which really helped me.

I also did a show a couple of years ago and I met Shawn Mendes, so I asked him about warming up and he was like, “bro, every time you warm-up, do it in the shower’.

So every time I speak to another male vocalist I just pick their brain about how they warm-up. I always want to improve and these people do it for a living too, and have amazing vocals so I think it’s important to all help each other.

It may sound really boring, but it’s just stuff I needed to know as I wanted to sound and feel better on stage. And there’s no one better to ask than Shawn Mendes, so if he tells you to warm up in a shower then you warm up in a shower *laughs*.

MF: Your new single ‘ME BECAUSE OF YOU’ is a slick pulsating synth bop. So how did this song come together in the studio because it’s quite groovy?

H: It’s a cute little story because I saw a comment on Instagram from a fan that said, “I’m only me because of you” and I immediately loved that line so I went into the studio with the concept to write a song around it.

The producer brought up a beat and it had that 80’s drums with the pulsating feeling during the chorus, which I immediately loved. But I decided to switch it up and start the song acoustically to show that contrast before rolling into that full-blown sound.

We wrote the song and I loved it, so I went back to say thank you to the person who wrote the comment but couldn’t find them.

MF: A bit of a Cinderella moment, isn’t it?

H: *Laughs* it literally was! I actually jumped on my Instagram story and asked people whoever commented that to please message me and I obviously got quite a lot of people saying it was them, so I didn’t know who to believe.

MF: There is a beautiful gospel version of the track on YouTube. So how long did that version take to come together because it seemed so seamless?

H: Thank you bro! It’s always been a big dream of mine to have a choir in one of my songs but it’s never really fit into the actual singles I’ve put it out. With ‘ME BECAUSE OF YOU’ I was approached to do an acoustic version and I was so excited to do that because the song is so drum-driven that I knew it could turn out quite cool and drastically different stripped back.

After we had talks about the direction of the arrangement I got approved to have a choir involved which was so exciting as it meant I got to finally have my dream come true. The choir were insane, and brought the track into a whole new world and made it sound completely different.

When they came into the session they had a listen to the song and came up with their own choral arrangement and showed it to me and I died. They made it their own song and I was blown away.

Like, I love my song and I’m so proud of the original track, but this version is definitely my favourite and it’s also my mum’s [favourite].

MF: I think the most exciting thing about this version of the song was that is showed a completely different side of your artistry to what listeners have heard so far.

H: One hundred per cent! And that was another thing I wanted to do, I wanted to show people another side to me. It’s always great to give fans that sort of content, but it’s great to also show the older audiences that while I may be a young pop kid, I can do something more mature sounding.

MF: You started off as a really young artist who was continually growing and evolving while finding his feet in the industry. So looking back on your first two EPs and where you are at now with your music, do you get self-critical when you listen to those songs back?

H: Bro, I could release a song yesterday and I would be critical about it today *laughs*. I’m always changing my mind about things and always will be. But looking back at those songs, I see them as stepping stones as without those songs I wouldn’t be where I am today, and without releasing that music I wouldn’t be able to improve and get better.

Don’t get me wrong though, I do listen back to some of those songs and think that they are proper cringey but I was also 15/16 years old at the time. I do love the music I have put it out as it made sense at the time and the fans love it and still do, which is why it’s still apart of the live show.

MF: You’ve done a lot of collaboration with artists like Jonas Blue, NOTD, Sigala, NCT Dream and Red Foo. So what is your favourite thing about collaborating with other artists?

H: I just love hearing other people’s thoughts during the creative process as you could be both on different wavelengths, but you end up coming together in such a cool way. It’s also just great to have another brain in the room as creating music can be a little lonely sometimes.

I collaborated with NCT Dream and they are from South Korea and it was just an amazing experience as I got to go out there and experience their culture and meet their fans and make new fans at the same time.

I just love collaborating really. It’s also the way forward I think, definitely with streaming and social media as the more people on the track equals the wider it spreads.

Music has become the universal language. Like the fact you can have multiple languages in one song is crazy and exciting. I never thought I would have a song with a Korean speaking band, but it’s happened and it’s amazing.

MF: Previously in interviews and social media you’ve said that you’re not going to start working on an album until you’ve really found your sound and are fully comfortable with your vision. So through the release of these recent singles would you say that you’re closer to finding that?

H: Yeah, I feel like I have now. I’ve actually been working on an album and it’s going to be released really soon.

But a little while ago I would say that I hadn’t found my sound yet, and I just wanted to focus on experimenting and discovering what that sound was. Whereas now I feel like I’ve discovered who I am as an artist, and found music that I love and feel confident with.

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