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Harea Band performs at Babylon. Photo: JC Batista.

Interview: Harea Band try their hand at virtual recording with “It’s Your Birthday”

By Sonya Gankina on June 30, 2020

At first, quarantine seemed temporary, feeling almost like a vacation. By month three, we realized it might be sticking around for a while.

We know just how many local businesses suffered the effects of shutdowns. However, one industry we might not think of, also affected by the distancing rules, is the music industry. With all in-person events and especially concerts and festivals cancelled, musicians have effectively had their primary form of income disappear, and on top of that have had to find other ways to be creative.

The music continues to flow to our #ottmusic weekly and Spotify New Music Friday releases as if nothing happened, but have you ever thought of how music actually gets created behind the scenes of a nice album cover and a catchy title?

Today, let’s meet Harea Band, a local pop/soul band that released their newest song “It’s Your Birthday” just last month. It was produced and recorded all from the band members’ own homes. No studio meet-ups or recording sessions. Recording a new song isn’t as straightforward as jumping on a Zoom call with your co-workers, so let’s hear from Alex Harea, the singer, songwriter, and bandleader, about the process and how it all felt:

Apt613: How come you decided to release a new song during quarantine? Why this song?

Alex Harea: The plan for 2020 was always to release five new singles, and we didn’t want to let the COVID-19 pandemic affect our plans negatively. The fact that we were all locked up and not working for three months made it more important in my mind that we get some music out for two reasons. The public needs music and art in tough times like this, and it was important for us to release a song with a positive message and vibe to break through the doom of the pandemic.

We also felt this was necessary for the well-being of the local arts community. We took this as an opportunity to allow local artists to spread their creative wings and be a part of something together, even if not in person. Aside from the positive fun vibes of the song, we also released this as a celebration of my birthday.

Harea Band performs. Photo provided by the artist.

Tell us the story behind recording virtually. How did it all play out?

This was a first for us and definitely won’t be the last. A huge shoutout goes out to our keyboardist and music director Caylan Penny who really made this happen. He created a skeleton of the song electronically, basically just drums, bass, and keys. Then he dropped the track in a shared Google Drive and everyone started laying out their ideas over it and adding in the Drive too. Everyone got their ideas down and Steve Foley worked his magic on the mixing, turning it into a real bangin’ pop song.

The most important part of this process was allowing the creatives to do their thing with very little creative input or control coming from me. I wanted the musicians, the designer, and the videographer to feel the freedom to do what they do. This was so important to me from the get-go, since the artists have been forced to be at home, and might have been feeling the negative effects of the pandemic. I wanted this to be a moment where they could let that all go and truly insert their own feelings into the song.

What do you miss the most as a performer?

I personally miss the local community the most. I miss being able to hop around from show to show on a weekend and see familiar faces, have a drink with friends, and enjoy how music brings us all together.

When it comes to me performing, I definitely miss the exchange of energy that takes place between the audience and the performer. Performing to me is a conversation between the audience and me, and I do feel a part of me is missing.

That being said, I’m in no rush. The health of my friends, family, and community is far more important to me than being able to perform right now.

Alex Harea. Photo: JC Batista.

How has your life as a creative shifted because of quarantine? What have you been focusing on?

Time has been beautiful. Having the time to get out of bed, make a coffee, and sit with my guitar or my laptop for a few hours every day and let the creativity flow has been a real blessing. Life has started to get busy again recently but I’m really trying my best to allow myself at least some of that time every day. Over the past three months, I’ve focused mainly on learning more about music production, and focusing on my mental health in the form of self-care, fitness, and maintaining deep connections with friends, family, and loved ones even when we can’t physically be together.

What’s the best way to support you?

Share as much as possible. If you’ve ever found yourself enjoying something we’ve made, tell your friends about it, share it on your social media, and help us reach even more people! Follow our Spotify, like your favourite songs, and check out the behind-the-scenes on our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts.