The story so far….
“Blues ‘n Greens”, Nick J Harvey’s latest original neo-blues single and EP is being released late 2017.
The single “Blues ‘n Greens” takes the listener on a ride of rhythmic of subtle harmonic twists, but still plays in the tradition of a classic Chicago blues shuffle. It has the drive of a rock track and a compelling “grab you by the throat quality.” The track is arranged thoughtfully with a crafted melody that energetically pushes the listener forward via a nasally blues inspired guitar and a pumping rhythm section underneath.
Nick comments, “On this track I wanted a particular energy, a real vitality. The track at its core has an attitude of sonic provocation. Blues music is not about just rolling over, but often taking a stand.”
“Blues ‘n Greens” reaches out to fans of classic 60’s and 70’s blues band, like early Fleetwood Mac, but has a spiritual core firmly centered on the gritty Chicago tones of Chess Records.
“The blues as an art form needs to be kept alive. I think people yearn today for some authenticity in the music that is not manufactured and spat out by a TV show,” says Nick, “My aim was always try and create some quality music that is original and new, but has its roots planted in the past. As an indie artist I have the opportunity to do as I please and create music that is for the blues fans alike, and even try to explore new approaches to the genre.”
“Blues ‘n Greens” was recorded at Suite 4 Studios in Melbourne, Australia. Produced by Nick J Harvey and Nashville Producer, Fett, the track was recorded and developed through late 2016 and early 2017. Nick wrote, played guitar, bass, piano, and organ on the “Blues ‘N Greens” EP.
Besides the traditional blues influences like Howlin Wolf, Freddy King and the 60’/70’s British Blues players, Nick’s J Harvey’s fascination with multi-track recording was inspired by Mike Oldfield’s Tubular bells.
“Its an album that’s really spells out arranging, the layering of parts, and how to use a recording studio. But the spiritual core, and the real challenge is trying to capture that energy and sonic dirt that was in those classic Chess recordings,” says Nick.
The release of “Blues ‘n Greens” is accumulation of five years of hard work and planning for Nick J Harvey. Between trips to LA and Nashville it’s been a quest of honing studio skills, gaining industry insights, refining musicianship, writing, production techniques and reaching out to American blues fans.
Nick says, “Getting the single out is important to me because I believe the world still loves good music. I’m passionate about taking the format of the blues and seeing if we can push its form further. “Blues ‘n Greens” is a good starting point. I’m excited about it, and especially also about the other tracks on the EP.”
“Blues ‘n Greens” single and EP planned release is mid-December 2017.
An Interview with
Nick J Harvey
How long have you been doing this?
I came to guitar playing late in life, maybe around 17 years of age. I think at the time my dad was looking to change up to a Fender Stratocaster. We took a visit to the local music shop, and it felt like we spent days trying out and listening to different guitars. Must have driven the shop owner crazy, but the thing that intrigued me is that the guitars all sounded different in character – it was like looking at a paint color chart with so many subtle hues and tones of the same color. And the thing is, all those different shades or different guitar tones seems to affect the mood and scope of the music. I suppose I began to think in terms of ‘painting with sound’, and I think that got me fired up to start playing the electric guitar, to see what I could do.
Does that ‘painting with sound’ play a part in what you do today?
Totally. The most exciting thing for me is that I became interested in recording and multi-tracking right at the time that computer hardware for recording technology became cheaper, and software becoming so much more powerful. Long before the recording stuff I have now, I did start mucking about with my dad’s old 2-track tape machine and trying little sonic experiments in recording.
I would say that those early experiments gave me some inkling of what you could achieve with recording and multi-tracking. The cool thing is that over the last 5 years the gear and software plug-ins just keep getting better-sounding, and the price points have improved significantly.
Isn’t all this new technology causing the death and eventual apocalypse of the music industry today
I would say what has existed for the more than 50 years, as an industry is facing some serious challenges no doubt. Today’s technology and the mood of music consumers is having a highly disruptive effect on the older more traditional big label business model.
Consider Uber and how a simple smart phone application is being so disruptive to the taxi industry across the world, whether it’s good or bad that’s another debate, but the fact it that is unsettling a regulated industry in so many parts of the world. Consumers are looking for a different transport experience. Those same types of shifts are now being felt in the record industry with its model of the world, and now is being challenged.
Maybe that fine balance of art verse commerce with the major labels has been become so tilted towards commerce, or the perception of being “commercial”, that consumers are now just opting out.
It’s simple – nobody wants to spend his or her hard earned dollars on rubbish.
So, I would yes, the old music industry label model is undergoing an apocalypse of kind. For any artist signing up with a big label is they have not found their musical career messiah.
But the flip side of all this “bad news” is that real revelations abound. With access to cheaper recording technology, the amount of information on the music business in books and the Internet, and access to different distribution models the veil is finally being lifted for the indie artist.
In all honesty, I think for the indie artist there no need to worry.
So in effect today we are seeing a new style of music industry emerging?
So for artists today, we seem to be living in a time where being a multi-skilled artist is the key to any form of success. You are not just the musician and not just skilled at ONE instrument. Today you are the audio engineer, writer/composer/arranger and if you can make good judgment calls on your material, you can win the door prize of being the producer as well.
And that’s just on the artistic side of the music industry, let alone the business side of things.
In a world dominated by technological distraction is anybody taking the time to listen to music?
Any technology of the day will influence how we consume music, and yes it does change our relationship to music. For instance, consider Rock’n’Roll which was the sound track of the 50’s and the 60’s for the social changes that took place at that time. In fact, Rock’n’Roll was driven by the improvements in technology and manufacturing of the day – electric guitars, louder amps and the significant progress in recording technology and techniques. On the consumption side, we had personal record players, radios in cars, as well as juke boxes where teenagers hung out. It was all about breaking away from the conformity of what went on before.
Think about artists like Howlin’ Wolf in the 50’s. His music was clearly an evolution of acoustic blues. Wolf’s take on the blues was much grittier, hypnotic, driving, and sometimes even scarier than the previous blues generation.
The ultimate motivation for the music remains the same. People listen to music to feel something and experience something, or to go to another place. Today’s technology, like Iphones and computers, can cut you off from all of that, even your humanity. For example, Blues music at its core is to look directly into the eyes of sadness, moves through that emotion and switches the listener around.
How are you different from any of the crop of current music or other guitarists??
Just being the writer, engineer, arranger, and producer, and playing most of the parts myself gives me a level of control in the process and enables me to apply a level of craftsmanship I’m trying to achieve in the work.
Even in the initial inkling of a groove or riff, I will be thinking about the final result and how the different bits might fit together in a piece – and how will that fit the emotion or the mood of the particular idea or melody.
I have passion to see a good idea get up and become a “real” piece of music. So hopefully by having a very direct hand in the total process, I hope the music will result in something that is pleasing for the listener, and pays service to the song or composition and hits its mark.
So you have your own philosophy on the sound or mixing?
When I’m putting the “whole thing together” I guess my thinking is more in line with a 70’s classic rock engineer or producer’s. The craftsmanship, including attention to detail, on some of those records was amazing. I think it’s critical you let the music breathe, and allow for shifts in musical dynamics just like those older recordings.
How did you learn this stuff?
Self taught – listening and listening some more, reading, Internet, old crusty sonic Zen Masters and just doing. This stuff is all about doing. The intellectual knowledge is one thing and watching You-Tube videos or doing online courses is be part of that learning framework, but it won’t solely make you a great mixer or engineer, or give you the ability to knock-out great records.
In doing your own bad mixes, experimenting and screwing up, you’ll be taught a lot more. Yeah, it can be a very stern teacher doing it this way at times. In the end, however, its all about the ears. (Oh, and some good taste doesn’t go astray either.)
What are your fans looking for in your music?
I think people want to listen to music that isn’t rubbish anymore. This means quality melodies, arrangements, some soul, ideas and recordings with an inner Blues core.
It’s the emotion in music that appeals to people. You’re always looking to generate a reaction of some sort. Having an emotional centre, the Blues, also allows you to bring in other musical elements or styles, but the Blues core is the centre of the music.
So Blues purists might not like what you are doing?
I think Blues has been, and continues to be, a changing thing otherwise it will die. To keep putting out Muddy Waters ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’ is not moving the art forward. Being a purist can get boring after a while too.
I want to affect people musically. I want people to feel something, think something, share an experience, move towards a positive state, and see or hear something different.
Where do you operate?
At the moment I’m based around bayside in Melbourne, Australia. I have a private studio where I work most days. But I am planning to spend a lot more time in Nashville and the States in the near future.