From Martin to teenage engineering
In the lead up to his sophomore EP Defiantly, Maybe, Noah Harris (known mononymously as Harris) has dropped his latest single ‘My Girl’s Wicked Smart’ (Good Jill Hunting?).
His musical journey has taken many turns from being a triple j Unearthed High finalist in 2011 to touring nationally and supporting heavyweights Catfish and the Bottlemen, The Vines, and Birds of Tokyo as frontman of Melbourne five-piece Fan Girl.
To celebrate the release of the latest single and in anticipation of the EP’s release on December 9, we got Harris himself to run us through some of the gear found on Defiantly, Maybe.
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op-1 teenage engineering
This little keyboard is a big part of the Harris sound. It may look like a toy (and I mean it sort of is) but it’s actually a highly malleable synthesiser, sampler, sequencer, drum machine and mixer. I definitely don’t use it to its full ability. I mostly just use it as a synth and a drum machine.
Pretty much all the little eerie synth sounds, synth bass lines, or lo-fi drum beats were made on this little guy. Sam Swain, who produced my EP, also has one. During sessions we would often sit side by side both on our op-1s trying to get the best sound. I wish I had a photo of that! This thing is not to be underestimated.
Martin 000-15m / Vox AC15
A Martin acoustic guitar being played through a VOX AC15 (with an LR Baggs pick up) is a real bedrock of the Harris sound, both live and recorded. It’s not the most conventional thing to do, and it really annoys some live engineers, but I love the results.
A lot of the feedback, squealy noises, and general rock guitar colours on the EP are actually this combo. I also write 70 per cent of my songs on that Martin. It’s my baby.
Aberrant DSP SketchCassette
This is one of my most used plugins. It’s basically a cassette tape emulator, which helps to add interesting colours and textures to things. I use it for making things sound more lo-fi, warbley, or just plain weirder.
I mostly chuck it on synth tracks, but sometimes on drum machines and backing vocals too. Very reasonably priced too. Great plugin.
Piano x iPhone
I actually have two pianos (I know, must be nice). One in my bedroom at home and one at our studio. This one is at our studio and it’s actually on loan from my uncle. It’s a spinet piano, so it’s smaller than a standard upright. It’s a really beautiful sounding thing and feels like water to play. I tend to write a lot of melodies and lyrics at the piano. All the notes are laid out in front of you, it’s very easily to visualise things.
I actually often record piano just with my iPhone. It’s not just out of laziness! I actually really like the sound of the apple voice memo compression when it has recorded a piano.
Soundcraft 1600 Console
This is the desk that lives at our studio space Taste Police, which I share with my friends Vince, Dom, Tom, and Jackson. We run almost everything we record at the studio through this desk. It’s from the 1970s, and it has a real special warm sound and has great EQs.
And you know, in this world where everything is run out of the computer, it’s nice to have a step in the ritual of recording that feels physical and real.
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Get tickets to the EP launch and the Northcote Social Club on December 15 here.