The hazy waves of thick, Australian heat rise from the open road. The lazy outback stretches in every direction, dry and unforgiving. Loneliness sweeps over you as the silent landscape rushes past. This is the claustrophobic suffocation of expanse.
We all need to escape every now and then. We all need an output. Harry Cane
's? Songwriting. Rumi Matsuzawa
explores the world of the Sydney-based singer-songwriter to track the musical journey from creation to production. Music made for the highway, Harry's reflective lyrics in songs such as 'Man in Blue' and 'Blue Note' bask in melancholy to paint a simple soundscape coloured by solitude - "I need some time by myself". It's advisable to avoid the traffic of the busy road.
Harry epitomizes that Aussie blend of a creative drive with an easy, 'laissez-faire' attitude. From his unkempt grown-out hair to his dark denim to the cigarette drooping from the corner of his mouth, he screams 'musician'. With a raw and sprawling country quality, he is a revival of 1960s counterculture; like his idol Bob Dylan, both his gritty personality and his nostalgic music embody a youthful escapism (enhanced by his Instagram handle: @coolhandharry). However, while he speaks of his influential inspirations, Harry's own lyricism is carried forward and personalised by his own authenticity. When discussing the process of songwriting, he strays from the well-trodden path of methodical and systematic music production, preferring his own stream-of-consciousness, spur-of-the-moment expression. This immediate and pure form of expressing emotion allows his music to reflect his earthy honesty and easy humility. It worked for Dylan - what's changed?
Do you want to introduce yourself?
My name is Harry and I’m currently living in Sydney, Australia.
Tell us a little about the new song, 'Blue Note' - what inspired it and how long has it been in the works?
I wrote 'Blue Note' about a month back. I was sitting in my room fiddling around on my guitar and it just came out. It wasn’t a song I really planned or worked on, it was just how I was feeling at the time. Once I wrote down the lyrics I went over to my friends place that has a little home studio and we recorded it in the afternoon. My friend had just met a girl who conveniently played the cello, so she came over and played on it too, which really makes the song I think.
Are you already writing new music?
Yeah, I’m constantly writing songs; every time I have a strong feeling towards something I write them down and try to write music to them. I have a lot of songs that I have already written and I will continue to write more whenever I feel the inspiration.
What's the process behind your songs and writing?
I basically just sit with my acoustic guitar and play around until something catches my ear. I sometimes have a basic idea of a rif or an idea that I want to write about, but the lyrics and guitar usually come together at the same time.
What kind of music did you listen to as a teenager?
As a teen, I went though all the fads, but when I heard the Blues that really stuck with me. You can really hear the truth in the lyrics and the way that they are sung. I was a big Johnny Cash fan too - that's why I first picked up the guitar, so I could learn to play his songs.
What bands inspire you?
There are so many bands and artists that inspire me. The first one to jump out is The Stones, but also Bob Dylan, Buddy Guy and younger artists like Jake Bugg.
If you could collaborate with any musician, who would it be?
If he was still alive, Johnny Cash, but I'd say Bob Dylan as he is one of my biggest idols.
What is next for you?
I'm going to keep on writing, recording and releasing songs. I play in a band called 'Red Wine Roses' as well, so I will be focusing a lot of energy on that this year too.
Interview and photos by Rumi Matsuzawa.
Words by Jonny Clowes.