For everyone other than JD, Turk and their kite flying team ‘The Mighty Kites’; The Kite String Tangle is a pleasant addition to their day. We spoke to Danny Harley, the man behind ‘Given the Chance’ and ‘Arcadia’, both of which attained positions in the top 20 of Triple J’s coveted ‘Hottest 100’ countdown in successive years. Don’t let the tea fool you, Danny isn’t afraid to disagree with the notoriously volatile Azealia Banks and he also tells us about his recent US trip, what’s special about the Australian music industry and what he will get up to at this year’s 'THIS THAT' festival in Newcastle, happening on 31st October.
Kate: Good morning Danny, how are you?
Danny: I’m swell!
K: Oh that’s good! Thanks for taking the time to chat with me this morning!
D: Not a problem, I’ve got a tea, I’m ready to go.
K: Awesome. Nice. You've been super busy globe trotting and touring like crazy of late including some shows in the US, how did that go?
D: Umm yeah, it was really good. I kind of went out there for the shows but also to write a little bit. And it was really good; I smashed out 5 or 6 shows at the beginning, which went really well. There’s a lot of, like, industry kind of stuff there that’s sort of the main purpose I was going over there. Kind of setting up stuff so it’s all like fresh and young there. Yeah so it’s super exciting but everything we wanted to happen sort of went as planned so, yeah we were really happy with it and then I got to write and yeah it was great!
K: I saw you caught up with Jess Mauboy too, is there a bit of an Aussie squad happening over there?
D: Ummm so there was this Google thing. Like Google flew over a whole bunch of Australian artists to sort of give them tours of their headquarter facility and the Youtube headquarters and stuff like that. There were a few acts. It was pretty cool; there was Empire Of The Sun, Birds Of Tokyo, Jessica Mauboy and myself. So we all just got to kind of hang out and check out the Google headquarters and stay in fancy hotels; so that was kinda cool.
K: Yeah, that is really cool. Did you get to do much touristy stuff while you were over there?
D: Ahh, a little bit; especially while I was in San Francisco/all the Google stuff. We went to the Golden Gate Bridge, went to a baseball game and did some American stuff. Yeah it was good. It’s easy to forget that you’re travelling and seeing new places when you’re touring so I think it’s important to take a step back and remember that you’re in a different, crazy place and you should go exploring.
K: You've also just come off a tour with Dustin Tebbutt to promote your collaborative effort 'Illuminate'. This track is hectic and so is the Ümbra remix. How did the remix come about? Did you approach Ümbra or vice versa?
D: Um they approached us actually. They’re an act from Brisbane and I hadn’t really heard of them and it sort of came through in one of my emails and I checked them out and they seemed pretty cool. I don’t know, I always like that, like if someone reaches out because they really want to do something for you, like it’s a cool thing and I think it’s that kind of like ‘help each other out’ attitude that makes the Australian music industry special. We were really keen to let them have a crack and they did really well.
K: Yeah that’s cool they did do really well. I really like both versions as separate tracks. You're playing 'This That' festival in Newcastle this Halloween (31st Oct), what kind of high jinx will you to bring to the stage? What are you going to bring us? Like what can we expect from your show?
D: Well I guess I'm bringing a drummer, which I haven’t really done that often before; so that’s fun because it’s kind of like a good live energy. The drummer is a guy that I used to in play in punk bands with when I was like thirteen, so it’s going to be fun. And then I’ve got a few surprises and there is going to be lights and I’ve changed up a few things throughout the set.
K: Awesome, a bit intriguing with the surprises, keep us guessing.
D: Well yes, I can’t tell you what they are otherwise they won’t be surprises!
K: Fair call. Will you have time to hang around and check out some of the other acts? Maybe drink some craft beers and that sort of thing?
D: Most definitely. I'm going to make a bit of a trip out of it. My girlfriend’s coming up and I’ve got a lot of good friends with, like, Slumberjack, Carmada and Rüfüs and a bunch of the guys there so it’s going to be a bit of party I reckon.
K: Is there anyone there that you haven’t seen that you are looking forward to seeing?
D: I haven’t seen Birds of Tokyo in a long time but I think I might be playing at a similar time to them so I’m not sure if I'm going to catch them. I’ve never seen Baauer before so that could be an experience. Umm who else is playing again?
K: You’ve got Tkay playing as well – I love Tkay, I’m a bit of a fan there.
D: Yeah, her sound guy is from Brisbane and is a good friend of mine and Tkay is so lovely.
K: Yeah I’ve met her too, she is so sweet! It’s crazy. You’ve got Rüfüs as well.
D: Yeah Rüfüs are always a pleasure to see, they’re so good.
K: You’ve got your other Brissie mates The Jungle Giants.
D: Ah yes, they’re on tour now I think. We share a sound guy. He’s going to be doing me and them at This That. Kilter! Kilter’s there. I’m looking at the lineup now. Yeah Kilter’s awesome!
K: Obviously it's quite a diverse lineup in terms of genre, can that affect your performance at all? Like do you remember the episode of Seinfeld where he was sick of warming up the crowd for the terrible comedian Kenny Bania? At a festival, can the act you follow have an effect on your reception from the crowd?
D: Ummm I think so at some festivals but I think quite a lot of festivals these days are fairly eclectic which is kinda cool. I don’t know, didn’t it used to be like a bit of a divide? Like if you’re into rock, you’re into rock and if you’re into dance, you’re into dance or whatever but I think it has kind of broken down a little bit and everyone has a few rock bands that they love and a few electronic acts that they love. So I think that sort of opened the doors for festivals to be booking a lot of different acts. And they have their place, like rock bands, it’s so good to see a rock band during the day time and going into night time and then really awesome dance acts at night, I think we can agree. So I don’t know, I think everyone’s got a pretty open mind. So as long as there’s like a little changeover then I don’t think it affects it too much who plays before or after you.
K: Yeah, as a punter, I must say I prefer a bit of a mix. I mean you can sit and listen to rock all day and that sort of thing but I prefer to have the mix of genres now.
D: Totally. Yep me too. Couldn’t agree more. I think I’m in between two dance acts and I’m like kind of live/dance sometimes so I think that’ll probably work.
K: Yeah I’m loving how electronic acts are sort of bringing something different to their live show, you know, as you’re bringing a drummer on stage, that sort of thing it can just add something. Visual, but also a different sound to change it up.
D: I think it’s hugely important to be a bit visual as an electronic artist right now.
K: Yeah, not be accused of just ‘laptopping’, you know?
D: Yeah and most people I know that do electronic music are really great musicians but people don’t get to see that. So it’s always good when people do.
K: Well yeah, because I know that Kygo, when he first started playing live shows he was accused of, sort of, not doing much visually. But he’s changed that up now and is getting good reviews so…
D: I think you can also get lost in the arms race of like, lights and projections and LED screens. Like all the DJ’s with just overwhelming lights and visuals. So I think something different, the live show or you know, Skrillex had that space ship thing and just doing something different rather than just ‘more and bigger’ is more important.
K: Azealia Banks recently tweeted that Aussie crowds are the worst crowds to play for. Would you agree or can you say there any notable difference between countries?
D: I definitely don’t think they’re the worst crowd to play to. I think that’s unfair. I don’t know; I reckon Australia has more of a binge drinking culture that could possibly contribute to that. They possibly could be more wasted than other crowds but whether that’s a bad thing; maybe it is. But I don’t know, it’s part of the culture. Like it’s not even just music festivals, it’s Australia.
K: Like Australia Day in the backyard with your tinnies?
D: Yeah. So I don’t know, I’d disagree with that, that’s silly.
K: My final question for you: In the spirit of the Halloween date that ‘This That’ is falling on, I'm curious: What's your favourite Simpsons ‘Treehouse of Horror’ episode?
D: (Laughs) Was there one where they found they were living on an Indian Graveyard or something like that?
K: Is it the one where they go and stay in a haunted house and the walls are bleeding?
D: Yeah that’s the one.
K: Yeah that one’s hilarious! The house decides it doesn’t want to live with them and it self-implodes. Classic.
D: And there’s the ‘Edgar Allan Poe - Raven’ one. Which is cool.
K: Oh yep, ‘The Raven’! Good choices!
D: Thanks. They’re the only two I remember!
K: Well thank you, have a great show at This That. Is there anything else you wanted to mention?
D: Maybe just that I’m writing new music and hopefully I’ll have a new release out early next year maybe.
K: Awesome! Have you got anything new ready for the festival that we haven’t heard?
D: Not at this stage but as I’m getting closer... Maybe! But I’m not sure. It depends on where everything’s at when it gets closer to the festival.
Written by Kate Carnell
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