Q&A: The Kite String Tangle Dives Deep into His Artistry, Latest Release, & Fine Australian Wines

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Photo: Imogen Grist

Danny Harley, also known as The Kite String Tangle, first made a splash in the Australian electronic music scene with his debut EP, 2014′s Vessel. The release was a smashing success, garnering worldwide critical acclaim and two nominations for the prestigious ARIA awards (Australian Recording Industry Association). Since his initial success, Harley’s career has been nothing short of dynamic and colorful. In 2017, he released his debut self-titled album, which reached #1 on iTunes Electronic charts and made a Top 10 debut on the iTunes Album chart.

In April 2018, Harley showed the world a different side of his artistry by combining the sonic worlds of electronic and organic sounds to create The Kite String Tangle Presents: In A Desperate Moment. This album led to his epic collaboration with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, during which Harley stunned two sold-out audiences with his seamless synthesis of styles.  

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Harley continued this streak of combining organic and electronic sounds in his most recent single, “Give It Time,” featuring distinguished producer Aalias. The single, accompanied by an endearing music video, is a lighthearted jam that seeks to remind you that through hardship, there is hope. The musical elements match the optimistic theme. As the lyrics move from touching upon struggles and hardship to promising that “there is a high to every low,” the music moves from emotive and ethereal to an upbeat, infectious dance groove. In addition to the lyrical and musical themes presented, the song demands attention in its production and instrumentation, harboring a plethora of sounds including a beautiful harp motif, bouncing electronic percussion, and bumping synthesizers. 

Harley dove deeper with us in a Q&A that covers everything from his development as an artist, his burgeoning record label, and his latest Australian Shiraz suggestions.

OTW: Can you tell us a bit about your musical background and influences? When did you start writing and producing your own music?  

Harley: I’ve done music since I was about 10 or 11, playing bass in a pop-punk band, and then starting my own bands and playing guitar and singing. I eventually went to university to study music and audio engineering and that’s when I fell in love with what you can do with audio once it has been captured. That pretty much started my obsession with electronic music and writing songs solo.

OTW:  How has your sound and artistry evolved since winning a triple j Unearthed competition in 2013 and receiving widespread acclaim for “Given the Chance” and “Arcadia?”    

Harley: I think since then I’ve pretty much been trying to refine “my sound,” but really the common threads are mostly my vocal and songwriting style. I think as an artist you’re always trying to find your sound and direction, and I feel I’m very much on that journey still.

OTW: How does your most recent album, The Kite String Tangle Presents: In a Desperate Momentdiffer from your earlier work?      

Harley: It uses not much electronic instrumentation and relies heavily on organic recorded instruments such as strings, piano, and horns. It’s more about the songs than the production I think. It was definitely a different process for me in terms of making the record and it was largely me just getting these songs out because I couldn’t let go of them yet, they didn’t fit any other album; so I decided to do an album made from the more intimate tracks.  

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Photo: Annemarie Halovanic

OTW: You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you’re a big wine fan and always have a glass of wine on stage with you while playing. Any recommendations?  

Harley: I live in Australia where there are heaps of great wines. You can’t go wrong with an Australian Shiraz, although I’m also into Grenache at the moment. I’d recommend the Penfolds 138 GSM, or if you’re feeling experimental I had this Shiraz the other night that was pretty playful called Romanee Tuff by Tommy Ruff from the Barossa Valley.

OTW: Tell us about your recent collaboration with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra. Any chances of a round two?    

Harley: I’d love to do a round two! It’s always been a dream to play with an orchestra, and I still can’t believe it happened. They approached me with the idea a couple of years ago and we’ve only just been able to make it work, but it was a really special show. Definitely gave me a thirst for more.

OTW: What was it like being nominated for two ARIA awards, one in 2014 for Breakthrough Artist and another last year for Best Dance Release?  

Harley: It’s always great to be nominated for these things because you get to dress up in a suit and walk the red carpet. Very humbling, especially when there is so much great music coming out of Australia. 

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Photo: Zennieshia Photography

OTW: In 2017, you started your own record label, Exist. Recordings with Golden Vessel and LASTLINGS are the first acts on your roster. How has that been going? Are you planning to expand your roster soon?  

Harley: It’s been going great actually. The first two acts are so effortlessly cool, so I’ve been really happy with the roster, although we have signed a couple more since then, but we’ve yet to announce them. We’re looking to make the label even more active again this year.

OTW: You released a new single “Give It Time” featuring Aalias this past month. What was working with Aalias like? Could you maybe give us some insight into what the song is about?

Harley: The song is essentially about trying to keep in mind that there’s always light around the corner and that life is made of peaks and valleys. We wrote it a couple of years ago actually and have been finessing it remotely ever since. Aalias is a great writer and producer, so it was really nice to work with him. The song is a fun summery jam that is easy to groove to. Hopefully, it’ll make some people smile.

OTW: Finally, who are some of your Ones to Watch artists? 

Harley: An artist who is killing it in Australia at the moment is Willaris K., I also love a band called Kllo. I think JOY. is great and for some slightly more underground electronic sounds check out Christopher Port and Roland Tings

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