Navigating while working on his 13-inch laptop screen, without access to a studio, the album took on the nuances of life during the pandemic – as Harkin describes it, “a ship in a bottle of this era”.
Harkin, first name Katie, is a multi-instrumentalist from Leeds who rose to fame with her band Sky Larkin in the 2000s.
Scheduled to be released in June, her new album Honeymoon Suite was recorded in the same room where Katie and her wife, poet Kate Leah Hewett, ate all their meals and even hosted their virtual wedding reception.
While Kate worked in a remote call center, Katie mixed and programmed her album using headphones – waiting for snippets of time when she could record her vocals and guitar.
“We got into a strange rhythm, like anyone who cohabited or shared spaces in lockdown,” Katie, 35, told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“It definitely influenced the sound of the record. I couldn’t go into a rehearsal room and pull out 10 guitar amps, so naturally it became a lot more inward and electronic.
“I felt vulnerable in a very unique way.
“Although in many ways I hope I never have to record on a 13″ laptop screen again,” I learned a lot – and there are some things I won’t give up. , although I work with other people next time.”
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Katie has had a stellar career built around collaboration, from her success with Sky Larkin to touring with American rock band Sleater-Kinney and backing vocals for pop star Dua Lipa.
One of its highlights was when Sky Larkin performed an acoustic gig at Leeds First Direct Arena before it officially opened, a moment in history for the Leeds music scene.
“I love the huge learning opportunities you get from being part of a group,” Katie said.
“When you start as a band, you create your own little family and your own ways of doing things.
“It feels like cross-pollination, there are so many ways to be inspired – from an all-encompassing creative philosophy to something as practical as the way you wrap a guitar cable.”
In April 2020, after founding the Hand Mirror label with his wife, Katie released her self-titled debut album amid the ongoing pandemic.
The couple were living in New York, where Katie’s wife worked as a live music promoter, and had to make the frantic drive home.
“It was a big and very sudden life change, but we feel very lucky to have friends and family to come back to,” added Katie.
“It was really special to release something globally on our own label and so many people told me it was their lockdown soundtrack.
“It’s not something I could have imagined, but when I also couldn’t go anywhere, it was really emotional to know that my music could.
“I did an interview on New York Public Radio directly after a speech by the mayor. It couldn’t have been more shocking and surreal – it was unlike any album promotion I’ve ever done before. “
Honeymoon Suite takes its title from the couple’s affectionate nickname for the one-bedroom apartment they lived in when they returned to the UK, after having a lockdown wedding with bubbling family and friends.
Listeners can expect a mixture of love, heartbreak, anxiety, resilience, danger, grief and hope in the album, which was released on June 17.
The first single, Body Clock, is out now – accompanied by an animated video created by Leeds artist Pastel Castle in their small home studio.
“I was a huge fan of Pastel Castle’s work and felt like this song would fit the bill perfectly,” Katie added.
“My brother lent me a Nintendo Switch [during lockdown] and I found solace in games with large maps to explore.
“Songwriting and gameplay can both have the power to transport and the video created by Pastel Castle takes me on a beautiful and perilous quest.”
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