Nick Harris


Narrative has always been my main drive, but I am better with pictures than words, which is probably why I ended up as a book illustrator. It's a job I've been scraping a meagre living at for over thirty years now. Yep. Officially old fart category. Music as an activity was just something forced on you at school, and given my lack of ability, I've not really been near it since then. That isn't to say I've not enjoyed doing a lot of listening to all sorts in the interim. That's also not to say that my megalomaniac tendencies didn't mean I wouldn't have liked to make music. Enter Music Maker Premium 2013 software a few years ago - a Christmas present from my since deceased mother-in-law. To call it a revelation is to understate the impact its obvious and immediate potential delivered me. Idiot friendly enough that a techno-berk (made up word, so don't Google it) like myself could get a certain level of results. Its ease of use is a selling point, but based on well constructed loop libraries that you can expand upon. That megalomania in me I mentioned, means I quickly discarded that approach and turned instead to the very functional piano roll (Magix call it a 'Matrix Editor' in their terminology) and the greater freedom that brings. I've been mangling midi vst sounds in that way since then, and hopefully slowly improving. Whether or not that is the case, the creative enjoyment I get from it keeps me coming back for more. My poor wife who has to endure the dubious results most regularly finds it hard to share that enjoyment. I'm under no illusion that I am any sort of musician, unlike the great swathe of very and diversely talented individuals on here and elsewhere, able to perform that real magic of making actual music, with real instruments and their voices. Best guess at where I'm at - a very low level 'composer' and 'producer' of music. Who cares what you call it. I love it.







What is music to you? What does it give you?

As someone lucky enough to work in the visual arts, namely publishing, I already have an outlet for my creative juices. I've worked a lot of years as an illustrator creating imagery for children's books. Yet even I have to admit that an image doesn't usually have anything like the same instantaneous power to evoke emotional response as a the right bit of music. Seldom has a picture brought a tear to my eye like a musical phrase can, or have it simply deliver that tingle down the spine. I'm not any kind of musician. Yet the availability of affordable DAWs these days has delivered me a way of making music of a sort. Despite the lack of talent, it surprises me how much pleasure the activity of doing that gives me. Nothing I produce is about to rock the music world, but that's not why I do it.

What is your music dream?

As a fan of film, soundtrack music has always been an important factor in my enjoyment. The right music makes all the difference. Still love the theme music as Andy Dufresne is bused into the prison. Same with the theme in Alien 4, when the Ripley clone discovers all the failures stored in the lab she was created in. With that in mind, it could be a wonderful challenge one day to score the soundtrack to a film I believed in.

If you could change the world - what would you start with?

Impossible, but if all the greed and lust for power, corruption could be removed from administrations round the world in one go, and supplanted with a will to make things better for everybody through international, collaborative effort, that might be a start.

Which is the most memorable song from your childhood?

Bobby Gentry - Ode to Billy Joe

Who are your favorite musical artists or bands?

Grew up loving Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd and UK. Moved on with Steely Dan, King Crimson, Japan and Level 42. Now there are so many bands who have made tracks I love it's hard to think of them all. Lamb, Orbital, Hybrid, Dandy Warhols, Neil Cowley Trio, Elbow, Spoon . . . . . . .

What inspires you to make music?

The infinite search to discover new music and sound combinations. It's like when a sculptor says that a statue is hiding inside a lump of marble and they are just looking to find it. Silence is just waiting to have notes and phrases put into it in new and exciting ways.

What is the message you want to send with your music?

No message. If you like that you hear, then listen - if not then move on until you find something you do like.

How do you feel when you perform in front of an audience?

Not going to happen. I'm very much a behind the scenes sort of personality. Goes with being an illustrator. Create something, put it out there and move on to creating something else.

How do you see the musicians’ reality nowadays? What could be improved?

With the ever expanding ability to reach all corners of the earth (or most corners at least) through digital media, in theory the future has never been brighter for you to bring your creations in front of the right folk who will like, and may even help promote them. The flip side of that is that with more and more people doing just that and getting their work out there, the net becomes over saturated and the sheer volume may swamp that opportunity from ever arising. Perhaps more guidance about what tags to attach to your work, when you put it out there, combined with better algorithms and filters to help folk find things they may like could improve things? Gosh - I don't know. I haven't worked out the TV remote yet.

What do you think of Drooble?

Loving it so far and really looking forward to seeing how it develops. It could potentially blossom into a creative powerhouse, where people power drives musicians' and their creations' profiles much more into the public eye - and increase the possibilities for those who want to, to turn their passion into their living.

What frustrates you most as a musician?

My own lack of talent.

Do you support your local scene as a fan? How?

Not as able to attend as many live gigs as we'd like these days (we being my my good lady and myself), mostly due to time pressures. Will happily spread the word about any local bands, events I hear of in as positive and encouraging a way as I can.

What qualities should a musician nowadays have in order to get their music heard by a larger audience?

The ability to engage with social media in a positive, productive way, without getting sucked down by the undercurrent of negativity seems to be pretty important these days. Staying positive and active should increase your chances of fulfilling whatever dreams/goals that drive you.

Share some awesome artists that we’ve never heard of.

Several artists on SC have really caught my ear, and keep me coming back. Church of the Undecided - COtu Exandroid Phil McWalter Grandspaceadventure Discovered at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival a few years ago - although many may have heard of them by now. Neil Cowley Trio