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Upfront: Harvey Sutherland

Disco minimalism

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Harvey Sutherland is a self-professed “Disco Minimalist”. His music is driven heavily by old-school synthesisers and analog delays, incorporating syncopated bass lines and live instrumentation into his records. Previously releasing through MCDE Recordings and Voyage Records, he is now taking on a more entrepreneurial role with the unveiling of his own record label, Clarity Recordings. Harvey’s most recent record was birthed in a local Fitzroy North studio in the presence of VB stubbies and red velvet curtains, and with the help of his band, Bermuda, they will be taking to the road for their first headline tour to bring these studio productions to life.

Congratulations on your release, the new songs are sounding great. How long you have been working on these songs?

Thank you! Some of these songs have been kicking around in various forms for a few years (notably ‘Clarity’ which was the opening tune in my live show for a few tours) but these versions have all been recorded and mixed in the past 12 months.

Did you record these in your own studio? Where else have you been recording?

I was working out of a home studio for a while, but these tunes were mostly recorded at an amazing studio in Fitzroy North called TFS. The place is vibe central – it’s a time capsule, nothing but VB stubbies and red velvet curtains. We brought in all the keyboards, got a tough-as-nails drum sound and hit record. It was engineered by a Melbourne legend Jacky Winter – he’s got golden ears and a great energy. We loved the session so much that Graeme (my drummer) and I moved in, and now I’m running the label out of there.

What equipment are you currently using?

No drum machines on this record, it’s all pure Pogson through four microphones. The studio is full of great gear, I’m a big fan of the Lexicon Prime Time for weird delay sounds. Keyboard-wise, it’s mostly my Rhodes, Juno 60, Korg MS-20, and my Helpinstill Roadmaster tour piano.

Can you give us some insight on your label Clarity Recordings? How did it come about?

I’d wanted to run a label for a while and these new tunes with Bermuda seemed like a good way to kick it off. I want to use it as a platform for great contemporary Australian music – unique live projects, collaborations, edits, pop songs. I’m ‘producing’ for a few different people, but kinda letting friends just do their thing and finding spontaneous moments to turn into records.

Are there any other artists you are currently thinking about releasing through Clarity Recordings? Are you able to tell us who you are working with or is that a secret?

Got a few things lined up for this year, but nothing to share yet! I can tell you we’re working with Krakatau on some new material ;)


Your band Bermuda consists of you, Graeme Pogson on drums and Tamil Rogeon on electric strings. How did you come across your band members?

Graeme and I met through playing shows – HS and GL were on a lot of lineups together so we clicked straight away. I met Tamil on a New Years Eve night many years ago – I initially worked on his RaAH Project ensemble, then got him to start recording strings over my half-finished disco tunes. We used to play little low-key gigs on Gertrude St, live-looping and jamming to about four people in a front bar. Now we just do that to a few more people.

Are they currently in any other bands? Have you found it tricky to coordinate your shows into their schedule?

We’ve managed to make it work so far.

How long have Bermuda been playing live together? What was your first show?

The first time we ever played live together was for Boiler Room in Melbourne with a million cameras on us. No pressure, but I think we did ok! After that we played Meredith Music Festival, which was basically the whole reason I put the band together. I couldn’t imagine walking onto that stage as a solo performer, so when I got booked for it I called up G and T and we got to work.

Sometimes you do DJ sets and use vinyl. What are your favourite record stores around your hometown of Melbourne?

Chris Gill at Northside is my number one man, but I’ve been hitting The Searchers and Plug Seven a lot recently. Wax Museum is another long-time favourite for new and used.

What’s your go-to record? Have you got any hidden gems?

I’ll always find room for DâM-FunK’s Galactic Fun – definitely a modern classic.

I’m really looking forward to the tour. Are you taking any supports along with you around Australia and New Zealand?

We’re working with some great friends in each city, not bringing anyone with us though. Out west, we’ve got Phil Stroud, up in Brisbane it’ll be the Vulture Street Tape Gang, and at home the excellent Sui Zhen and her five-piece band.

How do you feel your music is being received overseas? What about locally?

It’s been a real spin to visit all these places and play to people that know your music. Working with international labels has definitely helped with that, but also the global attention on the Melbourne scene over the past few years is a huge factor. We’ve got something really special happening here and it’s definitely resonating on an international level.

Who are your Australian artists to watch? Why are they important?

Krakatau. Sui Zhen. Kane Ikin. All great artists following their instincts.

Last but not least, what are plans for the rest of 2017?

I’ve got a solo show in Tokyo coming up which I’m really excited about – I’ve just done an exclusive CD release in Japan. Then heading to Europe in June for a string of festivals and club shows with Bermuda. After that, back in the producer’s chair and getting the next few Clarity releases together!


Follow Harvey Sutherland:
Clarity Recordings

Tour dates here.

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