Introducing: Joel Harkin

Ahead of his spot supporting Gus White on the 22nd of March, Donegal born singer-songwriter Joel Harkin sat down with Gala Hala to talk about his background, influences and angry Facebook messages.

GH – First up, for the unconverted, tell us a bit about yourself. How did Joel Harkin, the singer-songwriter, come to be? 

JH – I’m from Donegal, that’s wile important to me. I’m 22. I write sad noisey ambient folk songs. I’m mad about a tele plugged into a vox and a bottle of football special being emptied into my belly, via my mouth.

GH -A lot of the gig-going public have certain preconceptions about what your typical twenty-something solo artist is going to sound like. For these people, your music will likely seem a bit left of field. How would you categorize yourself as an artist, and can you list some influences for us?

JH – A bit folky, a bit noisey, a bit sad, a bit creepy, a bit sentimental, a bit existential crisisy and wile reverby. I like listening to Modest Mouse, Conor Oberst, Bjork, Mac Demarco, Gregory and the Hawk, SOAK, Eevee Beats and I’ve been listening to Pheobe Bridgers new single “Smoke Signals” about 10 times a day recently. It’s incredible. Lyrically and sonically so beautiful.

GH -You’re one a number of current and past students of QUB’s Sonic Arts program who currently populate Belfast’s local music scene. What, if any, effect do you think a formal music education has had on your work?

JH – I think it has really helped me with things like performance style and presence and building contacts in the local scene. I don’t think it’s necessary for everyone that wants to be a musician to do a music degree in university, but for me it has been very worthwhile.

GH -Lyrically, your work is broadly narrative driven, often recounting stories and incidents from your own life. Does this pose any difficulties for you as a performer, or is it a more cathartic process? On the other side of this, have you received any blowback from people recognising accounts of themselves in your songs?

JH – I don’t think writing about my life causes any problems but maybe I just haven’t noticed any yet. I’ll keep an eye out.

I have written about people in a negative light and received some facebook messeges because of that but these things happen sham. If you can’t be honest when you’re writing a song then what’s the point in writing it?

GH -The last few months have been pretty good to you, including live dates in the south and across the water, as well as having your music featured in the BBC’s’ Love in a Day’. How are you planning on building on this in the rest of 2017 and beyond?

JH – More shows baby! I got on well out in Liverpool when I was opening for New Atlas so hopefully some more Liverpool and maybe some Manchester dates in the future. Fingers crossed like. I’m also planning to actually release some music later this year but she’s in the planning stage but I’ll let you know the craic when I know the craic!

You can check Joel out on Facebook and Instagram. Tickets for Gus White are available from Indigo, Stranmillis

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