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Q&A | Joel Harkin talks to TLMT about ‘Vada’

Belfast alt-folk artist Joel Harkin talks to the Last Mixed Tape.

Alternative-folk songwriter Joel Harkin talks the Last Mixed Tape about what he’s listening to, influences and the release of his brand new single Vada.

What’s the last song you listened to on Spotify?

Love Like You by Rebecca Sugar. It is the end credits theme for Steven Universe which is one of me and my partner Deirdre’s favourite tv shows of all time. When Deirdre was living in Dublin and we were both travelling back and forth to visit each other, we spent a lot of our time watching the majority of the show and then we watched the last couple of episodes and the movie when we moved in together in Belfast. A couple of days ago we started watching Steven Universe Future which is kind of like an epilogue season but it has a different end credit theme and I missed the original one so that’s why I was listening to it. It’s actually a fabulous track, fantastic production and playing! Go and listen to it! And watch Steven Universe while you’re at it. It’s a work of pure art.

What’s the last record you bought?

Human by Kitt Philippa. An incredible piece of work. I could listen to Moth on repeat for an eternity. It wasn’t that long ago I was just looking through all my records. That’s all I can do with them since my turntable broke, but I still try to add to my wee collection whenever one comes out that I want. I have a recurring idea of being in my house when I’m a bit older and a niece or nephew comes over and starts looking through all of our records and we get to talk about them. Just because I don’t have a record player right now doesn’t mean I shouldn’t buy the records I want to talk to this hypothetical person about in the future to shield myself from the idea that I might not be a cool music person when I’m older and that’s how I’ll hold on to the scene I’m so lucky to be a part of now.

But anyway, I was looking through my records, and I couldn’t find Human, and then I realised that I hadn’t purchased it yet. Quickly corrected that error anyway!

What is influencing your music right now?

A lot of things. I suppose the main thing is the weight of the situation that we’re all in. It’s obviously a terrible situation but it is highlighting the huge holes in the system that we’re in. It has proven that the ‘free market knows best’ model doesn’t really work, not that other instances haven’t proved that, but maybe this time it’s on a global scale.

Do you know that Jeff Bezos has grown his fortune by 24 billion dollars during this situation? 24 billion like. Awk aye he definitely deserves that money, sure he’s doing far more than the workers in Amazon’s warehouses creating that wealth. Disgusting. 

Tell us about how your new single ‘Vada’ was written and recorded? 

Vada is actually a really old song of mine, one of the oldest on the record. It was a kind of songwriting experiment for me, to see whether or not I could write a song about fictional characters and people I know from my own life. Vada is about the main character from the 1991 film My Girl, whose name is Vada, meeting my mate Gabriel from Letterkenny. The reason: both of their da’s are undertakers. The song is mainly my own thoughts on what I think that they would think about each other or talk about if they ever did meet. 

It was produced by George Sloan at Half Bap Studios in Belfast and features a load of my mates playing their instruments on it. This track is probably one of the more chilled out tracks on the album and has a slightly different feel with the addition of flute kindly provided by my mate Kate Barry. I’m pure happy with how it has come out, and pure excited for people to hear it! 

What would you like people to take from the single?

I’m not sure that there is much to take away from this song. It doesn’t really have a message or moral high ground to take. It’s just a song about two individuals who have pretty much just one thing in common, that have been placed together because of this reason and how they interact with each other and get on. I suppose if you really grasped for it you could make the point that you can be mates and bond with someone over seemingly very small or insignificant things, but I wasn’t thinking about that when I was writing the song. Purely just experimenting. 

Vada‘ by Joel Harkin is out now.

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