With inspirations from John Mayer to Fleetwood Mac, Corey Harper has made quite a name for himself. He moved to LA to pursue his music career, and early help came from Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber, who had him on tour as a support act.
We spoke before his performance in Islington, London, late last year. He started telling me how he grew up on good music; “it was always in my family. I always had an ear for it and an eye for it. The glamorous and really enduring part of music is getting to express yourself. So that’s what really drew me to it in the first place. And just sonically, everything I heard I wanted to recreate”.
He continued to speak about his love for the theatricality of people expressing themselves; “I was impersonating musicians, and guitar riffs that I felt were really cool. I felt like there were so many times that I would mimic things like speeches and movie lines”. He loves his big bands too and said how he grew up watching VHS tapes of Fleetwood Mac. “I used to watch Lindsey Buckingham play and I was obsessed with it”, he said. “I would watch it everyday. I’d come home and sit in front of the TV. I had no idea what the lyrics meant or anything”. His brilliant guitar playing and his first love, before singing and song writing, was all thanks to other icons like Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix.
Being in college encouraged Corey Harper to truly start playing music. His friends would help him write songs and book gigs in fraternity houses and sororities; as well as their own houses. “They would strip their living rooms getting rid of their furniture just to have me play there. I was like ‘what? this is crazy!’ That encouraged me to keep going. To keep writing music and to put music out there”.
The ‘On The Run’ EP was inspired by travels to California; “It’s about being in love with the landscapes and the atmosphere. But also being in love with someone… There was a girl I was seeing that I lost at the same time”. A defining moment in his life. Equally as defining was the moment Cody Simpson messaged him to play guitar. It was his ticket out of Oregon. Moving on to play for Justin Bieber, Harper explained that it was significant in defining him as a performer. He had to step up and be ready. The atmosphere was very much different to playing a house party.
He told me he tried to contain his excitement and try to be as professional as he could by pretending he knew what he was doing, even though he didn’t. Corey Harper played his handful of songs, and tried to connect with the audience as best as he could; “They weren’t really there to see me. But I thought there was such an amazing connection with the fans. They were very accepting of the music I had written. Besides, I was able to play live to 10,000 people, and that was awesome! That’s what really solidified myself and music”.
As we speak, he is recording his new album; all whilst trying to continue with touring and playing some shows. He comments on how it’s very continuous, so at the moment, he can’t pin down a release date but “it’s definitely on the way!”
Speaking about his thoughts on genre pigeon-holes, he tells me that he was inspired by so many different kinds of music. “I feel like putting a genre on it really just diminishes it into something small. One thing I hate is putting a lid on music and especially on the music I make. I mean, I feel like it’s easier for other people to do it. That’d be a question I would like ask, ‘what do you think of MY genre?'”.
We got a little nosey and asked him to share his playlist with us; he mentioned Bruno Major, who we spoke to last year, as one of the many musicians he listens to. Bill Evans too. He then swerves into telling me about his friends, Slang and Ryan Keen, who he opened for in Islington, that often frequent his playlist; He met Slang while he was in LA as mutual friends, and it didn’t take long before they wrote a song together, ‘Escorting You’.
On visiting London for the first time, he tells me he’s in love with it. He loves the people, food, atmosphere and beauty of London. Then we jumped to the Christmas Spirit, which is still lingering somewhat, and whether he was a giver or receiver; “Oh I’m giver for sure. I receive from giving, I receive a lot of joy. I love seeing peoples faces when they open presents”.