By Student DJ, Molly McDonald
We've all “boogied” down to our parents music at some point. Even if you can't stand your parents' Barry White album collection, you can still appreciate their taste for Earth, Wind and Fire and Jimi Hendrix. Something about the 60’s, 70’s, even early 80’s music still lingers today in my music taste. 2015, however, is missing that funky flair. I’ve always been a fan of psychedelic, classic rock, disco, and funk. I'm constantly searching for festivals that cater to my funky needs. This, sometimes, leaves me feeling isolated on my own funky island amongst a vast sea of indie-loving peers. Where is the heart? Where is the soul? Where is that sexy guitar song I can groove to again? Harts has the soul food you need to fill you soul-hungry appetite. I had the rare opportunity to watch Harts perform and interview Darren Hart, the one man wonder behind it all. Harts Performed a showcase at the College Music Journalism Conference in Manhattan. He also performed at other venues during his stay. I only witnessed three songs, but that was all I needed. Traveling all the way from Melbourne Australia, there was no hint of jet lag at all in his suave performance. His stage presence matched his music., and he had incredible timing. Safe to say, Harts has a ton of heart. He played songs off of his new EP "Breakthrough" as well others songs from his other album Daydreamer. Daydreamer was created after hanging out and jamming with Prince. Prince sent Harts an invitation to jam with him, and said that Harts reminded him of how he was at that age. I couldn’t agree anymore. The song “Leavin it all Behind” had my feet grooving before I had time to comprehend it. Beautifully constructed song with a smooth flavor to it. Harts can make you feel the guitar as if he was Jack White and make you dance as if you were at a Parliament Funkadelic concert. Check out his song Breakthrough and his Breakthrough EP.
After watching Darren twirl with his guitar wire and casually spin into the mic without falling, I was mesmerized and couldn’t help but to fan girl. I decided to randomly interview him for WMWM 91.7s music blog. For my first interview I was extremely nervous but Harts and his manager Matt O’Connor were more than cooperative. They both had calm demeanors along with acknowledging how nervous I was, they made me feel comfortable.
Me: You had a very emotional, high energy, funky almost like sexy performance. What are some details you incorporate into your music; or are inspired by to give your music that funky powerful feel?
Darren: I really don’t know because, I’m really influenced by a lot of different music. In terms of funk and rock I really like artists like Prince, Jimi Hendrix. Earth Wind and Fire, Allman brothers a lot of old funk meets rock type of stuff. I think that has just really embedded in me particularly with Jimi Hendrix. I mean I grew up learning guitar by intimating Jimi Hendrix watching videos, I would play what he was doing so that kinda stuff. And I think that just naturally comes out when I play guitar It’s something that I naturally have. I play all the other instruments, but I really can’t get that emotion out in any other instrument besides guitar it’s really my outlet.
Me: Well, yeah you can tell by the guitar harts has a lot of heart going into it…
Me and Darren: *awkward laughter*
Me: I really like the White Stripes and Jack white a lot
Me: You kinda of remind me of the soul feeling from Jack White a little bit. There is this song called “Ball and a biscuit”
Darren: Yeah, yeah I remember that song.
Me: Your whole performance I was like wow the soul and funk right now reminds me of Jack White. Um so what age were you when you started learning Guitar?
I was about sixteen I think, I’ve been playing guitar for about seven years. I’m 24 now so however long that is. But, yeah I never grew up with an interest in music or anything I didn’t start playing guitar when I was nine or anything like that. I didn’t really come from a musical family or anything.
Me: Did you just feel it one day, and decide to tackle the guitar?
Yeah, just from friends at school, friends from my high school were getting into it as well, and they started playing guitar and things and I was like seems interesting I wanna have a shot. So I tried the drums first I thought that would be the easiest instrument to learn. I got into that for a few years and I started playing small pub shows with a garage rock band. But I just wanted to branch out and play a more melodic instrument. So that’s when I branched out and started playing guitar.
Me: That’s interesting, you said this is your first time in New York?
Darren: this is technically my second time, but it’s my first time playing here.
Me: What was your first initial feeling playing in New York?
Darren: well this was my first official New York show and It really wasn’t a show you saw the condensed two song version of what I do at a set. So I can’t really answer that question yet until after my main show on Friday. But I did play a few shows in LA as well, and it’s really great it seems like a lot people out here enjoy guitar playing a lot more it connects with them. From talking to them it seems kinda amazing because it's something that is not around.
Me: Yeah, definitely it’s more indie stuff around here so to hear something on the guitar you can groove too is awesome.
Darren: Yeah, it’s the same in Australia too and i’m kinda becoming the guy who’s getting known for doing that which is amazing! I’d love to bring the guitar back and also really bring excitement back to the instrument again. Kinda like ways it was in the 60’s and 70’s it was cutting edge back then. I kinda want to recreate that now, so yeah.
Me: That's awesome! bringing the 70’s back to 2015. So, I have two more questions for you. What was a moment on stage you had to come back from? Like a time you completely messed up on stage?
Darren: You mean like any time on stage?
Me: Yes, when you remembered and you just had a really good comeback.
Darren: Yeah, well sometimes I zone out particularly on tour a lot of the time. I use a lot of electronic sequences and mini triggering. Sometimes I forget to trigger something and i’m wondering why the horns cut out or something like that. I’’m zoned out because I was playing guitar or something, or i’m too tired yeah touring is hard. I also sometimes miss cues or something like that and I’m like “ahhh I missed that”. But I always seem to find a way to work it back into the set. I’m big on improvising, a lot of the set is a big improvising type thing, so there's a lot of opportunities to screw up or to do something that's not that good or exciting or interesting. But, I just try to keep it open, I try to play to that card and use it to my strength in a way. Because a lot of people can sense that there is something a little unscripted here. Particularly with the songs that aren’t singles were we had time to jam and things like that. So, a lot of the audiences are getting a specific show that kinda caters to them. But to answer the question there hasn’t been many times on the top of my head where I messed up big time. A lot of the times since I use a lot of loops, so if my loop is out of time it just gets more and more out of time. So by the time you’re at the end of the song it’s so completely messed up that you fucked up the song.
Me: Hahaha yeah, I do like the improvising comment just because even when you mess up; you're presenting something else that's there and equally as good.
Darren: Yeah, that's the way I like to look at it too.
Me: So I heard Prince asked you to go on stage and jam out with him?
Darren: I played with prince last year at his studio in paisley park. He flew me out from Australia to spend some time with him. He wanted to meet me he wanted to see me play and things like that. I got to jam with him, I got to be in the studio with him and all types of stuff. He’s one of my biggest idols so that was an amazing experience. And that's really what kicked things off for me in terms of my presence in the music industry now.
Me: Sweet, so my last question is would you ever come back to the US to play more shows?
Darren: yeah definitely, that's next on my cards. I really think the American audience gets what i’m doing. I really think that it connects with them. I think um with the right backing and things like that in terms from getting help from college radio to help get that exposure out there and get people to the shows I think you know we could do really well here, I think.
Me: I definitely think you would do well here. If Harts ever came to perform at Salem State University, we do have a lot of feeling and soul at our school, so we welcome you. We’re a little radio station 91.7 WMWM. Right now we’re progressively getting a lot bigger this year. So we’re improvising as well by looking for the right feeling to attract audiences as well.
Darren: Like I said I would love too, any opportunities for people to help out like you just offered Stuff like this is a really big help because i'm completely 100% independent so i’m kinda working business as well trying to get networking together to be able to come back to the states, so yeah.
Me: Do you have social media you would like to share so people can listen to your music and get to know you better?
Darren: yeah! hartsmusic.com and from there that links to my facebook page, instragram, twitter, itunes, spotify. Whatever you listen to music on or whatever you want to follow me on I’ve got all the networks in place. I do use them to interact with audiences on the networks as well. A lot of people tell me how they discovered me, so i’m trying to focus on how to get more people like that. So i’m kinda working that aspect as well. It’s not only a one man band it’s a one man business too.
Yeah, that’s a lot to take on and you’re doing a great job doing it. Sorry for adding more questions but is there any song you want people to check out or give a listen too?
Darren: a song I played today called “Breakthrough” It’s kinda like a funk meets rock mix of prince meets Jimi Hendrix type thing.
Me: Was that the last song? or was it the first song you played
Darren: It was the first song, but the last one was good too Red and Blue. That song has been radio hit for me in Australia both songs will be radio hits for me. They’re kinda just building internationally now. So both of the songs have been really big songs, Breakthrough and Red and Blue.
Well it’s been a great interview and I enjoyed interviewing you. I’ll definitely play you on my radio show the TRIWIZARDS
Darren: Thank you, and thanks again.