Harlee’s ‘Holding On’ Decides the Fate of Love: PopCrush Presents
Like many of today's pop artists, Harlee initially showed the world her talents by sharing covers on YouTube. Three years later and the Warrington, U.K.-based singer has just released her single, "Holding On." She's got her sights set on the big time.
We had the chance to talk to the 17-year-old songwriter about her early videos on the web, her dream collaborations and what she hopes to accomplish in the new year.
What was the first song you wrote about?
The first song I ever wrote was called "Forever Young," and it was a happy song. I wrote it about being young and free and ignoring all the negativity that comes your way when you’re going through that young teenage phase. The song was also meant to show that there’s no age limit to falling in love.
Older people will roll their eyes at you and talk down to you as if someone so young couldn’t possibly know what it really feels like to be in love, but at the time, I was, and "Forever Young" was a message about ignoring those condescending voices.
Think back to the early YouTube days and then where you are in your career today. How have you seen yourself grow as a songwriter and singer?
Wow, I started YouTube quite a while ago, when I was about 10 or 11. I remember my first cover being Adele's arrangement of "Make You Feel My Love" as I was sat underneath my bunk bed with my dodgy computer! I then went on to do Emeli Sande's "Read All About It." I've grown a lot since then, and the first secret has been having my own vocal coach, Lori Holland, who has given me the guidance needed but who has also let me find myself. Moreover, I've learned so much about who I am as an artist and am continuing to discover more about what drives me and what I represent.
I'm as passionate about singing as ever, but I'm still very much in a learning phase. One thing that has helped me find my way has been my equal passion for songwriting. I started writing at 14, and exploring themes and lyrics for my songs has really put me in touch with my own feelings and emotions. I have no doubt I’ll continue to evolve as I experience more in my life, but having started so young, especially at that age where your brain is like a ticking time bomb, I’ve definitely grown up quickly as an artist.
What's "Holding On" about?
When I wrote "Holding On," I started with the title in mind. I had a good feeling about the song, and about the theme, which I felt would be very relatable. We’ve all been in a relationship or circumstance in which its hard to determine if the right choice is to hold on, or let go. For me, I wrote the song about a few relationships in school—again, at an age where pressure is at its peak—that were coming to a crossroads. I was determining who in my life I could trust, who I could keep in, and who I was struggling to let go of. Ironically, it’s almost a happy, get-on-your-feet song that hides that struggle and frustration within. It was the first song I wrote that I felt proud of and that I felt confident in sharing.
I’m so glad "Holding On" was the first single! But now I’m working on my debut EP which I’m so excited to share. "Venom," which is my next single, is going to be a part of the project alongside two other songs. I feel like every song I’m releasing speaks for itself. I have a lot to say about a lot of different situations and people, but how can you blame me? Especially these days... After my EP will likely be my album! The idea of recording a full-length album is equally exciting and intimidating.
Do you have any dream collaborations?
My number one dream collaboration would have to be Amy Winehouse if she was still here with us today. If I’m honest, it’d probably be so overwhelming I’d start crying and wouldn’t even finish the song! But she’s my inspiration and the performance would just be a memory I’d never forget. I’ve also always wanted to collaborate with Rihanna as she seems like such a fun performer who really interacts with the crowd...not just with her dancing, but in the way she embodies her lyrics and music, which I think really resonates with her fans. She’s incredibly inspiring as an artist on all levels. The Weeknd would also be a dream to collaborate with! He’s full of surprises and he seems like so much fun up on that stage. Not to mention his amazing vocals... damn.
What are you plans for the end of 2017 and early 2018?
Ideally, by the end of this year, I’ll be able to reflect on releasing two successful singles (halfway there) along with two music videos! My plan is to just enjoy and appreciate everything that is happening and everything that’s going to happen, as patience is key. I look back on the year and am really in awe at what a transformative year it’s been in my life: signing a record deal is something I’ve always dreamed about, and now here I finally am releasing my songs!
Aside from releasing my EP at the top of the 2018, I’m hoping to spend a good amount of time developing my live performance and touring. I’m hopeful that touring will take me to some new and exciting places. I’m an incredibly curious traveler, and I love to see what new cultures and places have to offer me, and how they might mold my approach to songwriting and performing. We’ll see what’s in store for 2018. I’m loving this journey and can’t wait to see where it goes.
Best Songs of 2017 (So Far!):