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Harris Tweed: Interview

2008-07-16 15:06
Hang on a minute. It's 2008 and calculated indie cool is the pound of pastiche with which every 'emerging' rock band hoping to be this year's next big thing plies their trade. Does good old fashioned "integrity" still mean anything in a scene where the size of your skinny jeans invariably carries more currency than the depth of your actual music?

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Harris Tweed certainly believes so. "We want to make timeless music" explains MacNeil. "If I listen to Radiohead's Okay Computer, sure it's over 10 years old but I still think it's the most beautiful thing. Or Joni Mitchell’s old recordings and songs, when I hear them I think 'I still get this. I get this.'"

South African audiences are beginning to 'get' Harris Tweed too. Since the Joburg-based duo first skipped into the scene with their delightfully whimsical debut CD, The Younger back in 2006 their fan base has steadily evolved from hip indie kids looking for an alternative to Louise Carver to embrace moms, dads, in fact any fan of well-crafted tales of love lost, dreams postponed and hearts broken, but glued back together.

Shucks, this sounds awfully like a spin on the sensitive, doe-eyed spiel of adult contemporary chanteuses like Norah Jones or Katie Melua? Maybe. But ease influences ranging from fractured folk siren Laura Veirs and alt. pop eccentric Regina Spektor into the mix and you'll begin to appreciate just how deftly Harris Tweed's haunting minor key pop contusions and deceptively capricious alternative folk architectures actually sidestep most pigeonholes so-called strong 'n sensitive women singer songwriters fall prey to.

"We just make folk-pop," reiterates MacNeil. "It's heartfelt, quirky, fun, and kind of serious. It's 'folk' because it's sincere and it’s completely raw and about real emotions, really trying to communicate something. And it's 'pop' because it’s accessible to people and we want it to be. For us making music is about so much more than the fact that we wrote some songs and are up on stage singing them, you know?

It's about honesty. Asking ourselves have we really found our own identity? Saying 'hey, what are we about?' It's about trying to find our little place in the whole scheme of things. It really is about connecting with the audience by putting on real shows, with a set and beautiful lights that people can experience and go 'wow! That was awesome!'"

- Miles Keylock

Harris Tweed play the Oppikoppi Wild Card Festival from August 7 to 9.

"Indie has lost its integrity," sighs Cherilyn MacNeil. "It’s just become a hip genre tag: 'If it's indie it's cool!' You can sell it, you know?" Harris Tweed's lead singer is explaining the motivation behind the Sama-winning duo's decision to drop the indie pre-fix from their folk pop billing.

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