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Photo courtesy of Her Harbour.

Arboretum Interviews: Branching into… Her Harbour

By Alessandro Marcon on August 19, 2014

If you’ve never heard of Her Harbour, then tonight is as good a time as any to sail the seas. The act will be playing alongside Jesse MacCormack at Le Troquet on Rue Laval in Hull. Expect cascading, enigmatic, beautifully powerful soundscapes that are magisterially rendered and charged like lightening.

Sandro (S): First off, where does the name ‘Her Harbour’ come from?

Her Harbour (H): From a misunderstanding actually. I knew I didn’t want to release the record under my own name and had been weighing project names for a while. My old bandmates and I were on our way to Toronto and I misheard Allan. I can’t remember exactly what it was he had said but I heard “her harbour” and knew instantly that it embodied what this project means to me. 

S: How has the summer been treating you so far, musically or otherwise? Have you discovered any new spots in Ottawa/Gatineau? Has the area provided you with any new revelations?

H: It’s been a busy summer. Lots of hermiting and working on the upcoming record as well as a couple of scores. I haven’t discovered any new spots but I’ve certainly been frequenting my favourite parks and secret city getaways. 

S: In what ways does nature/the outdoors play into your sound? From listening to your album, I feel there is a connection to be made there.

H: The outdoors has always been dear to me. While writing for Winter’s Ghosts, I was very much inspired by the nature surrounding my then home in Port Hardy, BC. My time there shaped my relationship with the natural world irreversibly.

S: It what way does the autoharp give you the sound that you are looking for? What is your relationship to this instrument?

H: The autoharp was a bit of a fluke as well. I went to the music store intent on buying a classical guitar and came out with an autoharp. I found it in the used section and immediately fell in love with it. Initially, I liked how approachable it is as an instrument. It’s solely responsible for helping me graduate from a singer to a musician. Five years later, I’m still getting to know it in all its potential.

S: On your brilliant, haunting record, Winter’s Ghosts you also have a door harp, glockenspiel   and clarinet. Was it your choice to include of these instruments on the album, or were these suggestions from the musicians who play them? What kind of collaboration takes place between you and the musicians who support your vision?

H: It varied a lot and really depends on the musician but in all cases I was very lucky to have people willing to collaborate and lend their time and talent to my project. 

S: What was it like recording Winter’s Ghosts in your ‘childhood home’? Did recording in such a location present any unforeseen challenges?

H: It was one of the most important and testing experiences I’ve had with music. Being relatively new to recording and having to trust only my instincts was absolutely terrifying. I was met with many challenges, but the reward of completing it, the intimacy of self-recording in a place of significance and the things I learnt about myself as a musician were tremendously gratifying. 

S: Can you tell us a bit about the video for “My Last Map”? What city is that? Where did the footage come from?

H: I filmed it in Brooklyn two summers ago. I was there playing one of my first shows as “Her Harbour”. 

S: I saw you play once in Hull, in an art-collective space, which I can’t remember the name of. My friends and I got swept right up in the experience. One friend said afterwards, “I love having my mind blown like that.” Can you shed some light on what goes into making your live shows what they are? When played live, are the songs tightly orchestrated, or more open to improvisation and interpretation?

H: Oh the Temporaire! That’s still one of my favourite shows! I’m fortunate enough to play with some wonderful musicians that are quite sensitive to dynamics and what the songs require. We do spend a great amount of time not only orchestrating the songs but the set as a whole. That said a lot of the songs are more about movements than time keeping, so variables come into play. 

Her Harbour plays with Jesse MacCormack this evening at Le Troquet as part of Arboretum Festival.