An Interview with Har Mar Superstar by Adrienne Frances with Photography by Lee Allen

Har Mar Superstar

AF for GJs – The new album – Bye Bye 17 – it’s quite a shift, from retro-ey disco, up to more soul and swing. Was that a conscious decision, or did it just evolve?

HMS – It kinda just happened that way. It’s one of those things. When I made the album originally and I got talking to the labels, a lot of people were like ‘don’t you just wanna call it something new?’ and I totally understand that – to a lot of people it didn’t make sense. I’ve put in so many years of work building up my thing, it was kinda like a gamble as to whether it was going to connect or make sense to people… and I think it’s really working, it’s fine. People really get it, people understand.

It wasn’t really a conscious things when I wrote the songs – I was just listening to a lot of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, and I don’t know… I just had more life experience, and from that comes some really great stuff and some really horrible stuff, and that all translates into what you make.

Har Mar Superstar

If this album went crazy and got really big, would you be happy to ditch the older Har Mar image?

Oh, well I’m not really… I mean the shows are really fun, but they’re not like as debaucherous I guess, or whatever.

So are you gonna get naked?

No. I don’t really do that. I mean I might end up shirtless as when I dance I get really sweaty – and that’s kind of how all that shit started. But now I leave the trousers on. The expectation is what makes it feel really weird now. It’s always dudes who’re like: ‘take your pants off!’ you know what I mean? – and I just think Why? Why do YOU want me to take my pants off?

I mean whatever floats your boat… but like, I’ve got pretty good gaydar, and they’re normally just straight men… it’s that expectation that makes it weird – and I like to be in control of my own destiny day to day. It’s the obvious picture to put up online – but once you do a Google image search of me, it’s just ALL shots of me in my underpants… and that’s fine… I’m not embarrassed or anything… I just don’t want it to define me. Which it HAS, but it’s something that’s easily deconstructed.

Har Mar Superstar

There’s guests on the new album, and you’ve worked with loads and loads of people… but if you were given a blank chequebook and a full contact list – who would you work with?

Well it’s hard to say right now – it’s not about money – nobody I’d want to work with would cost a lot, but it’d be about co-writing. I’d like to write some more with Karen O, cause we haven’t written together in a long time and she really loves the new album – so I think if we collaborated and went further with it, that would be really good.. and I’d love to do a song with Alice Russell – I’ve always liked her voice a lot… man, there’s tonnes.

It always used to be Kylie, she would be awesome. I’d love to do a song with her and get her to solo on it a little bit… The band I put together for this record was awesome: Chris from Policza playing bass, and my friend Matt Romano from Albert Hammond Jnr’s band playing drums, Grupo Fantasma on horns – we got a perfect storm. So I’ll probably try to work with those guys more and then… it’d be fun to try to do a song with the Dap Kings – and they’re all in New York.

Get Sharon Jones on backing vocal!

Yeah! [laughs] Those guys are doing it right! There’s a bunch of people that would be really good to do stuff with!

Har Mar Superstar

And on the flip of that you’ve written for loads of people, you’ve mentioned Kylie, but is there anyone else you’d want to write for?

Just cause I don’t really have as much of an outlet, or a want to do it for my own stuff any more – with the electro stuff – I’d love to do more of that, just for other people. I’d still love to have a Britney song, I’d still love to have a Mutya, Keisha.

The Sugababes are playing Birmingham tonight!

Wait, they’re HERE tonight?! WHAT?? Oh I’m gonna tweet at them, and see if they wanna hang out later… well yeah, stuff like that would be fun… and there was this one girl who was SO awesome. I’d love to see Jamelia make another record, cause I just loved her.

She’s a local girl!

She’s local to here? Oh awesome – I didn’t even know that. Yeah she could make another record and that’d be awesome. I liked her stuff a lot. I like pop stuff like that.

I’m good friends with Dev Hynes – I’d like to do some stuff with him as we’ve never really written together – we play a lot of ping-pong and drink beer… he’s doing loads of stuff now – Blood Orange, and writing with Kylie and loads of people – tonnes of hot girls… he’s awesome.

There’s tonnes of people I’d like to do stuff with… but I’m not really that active in writing other people’s stuff, but when people approach me it’s cool… but I don’t really pursue that. A lot of times you get put in a room with a bunch of people you don’t know and it can feel weird.

Har Mar Superstar

Do you think you’ll bring a full band over for some Sean Na Na stuff?

Erm… I don’t know! Cause Sean Na Na – I love those songs, and I love playing it, but ultimately it ends up costing me a shitload of money. And I don’t really HAVE a shitload of money to spend. I’d rather just relax than lose money through working.

I’ve got just a couple of unsensible questions left to ask… Film, TV, you’ve done loads of stuff… can you see yourself doing any more of that?

Definitely – yeah. I’m in the middle of a film script that I’m writing with my brother and a bunch of people I grew up with in my town but one of them ended up becoming a producer on Saturday Night Live, one of them ended up being a huge stage manager / show runner for Oprah… We’re all from this random 20,000 person town called Owatonna, Minnesota – so it’s really weird that we’re all from there… and at Xmas time we all get together for like a week at a time every year and work on a script that’s kind of about us as 13yr olds, or versions of us… so that’s cool. Hopefully we’ll finish it this year. We’ve got a draft done, and now we just have to really fine tune it.

Me and Josh Tillman – who is Father John Misty – we just wrote a pilot for a new TV show for both of us to star in, that’s based on us being washed up country stars. Like an ex-duo that has to come back together for whatever reason… so we’re gonna start shopping that around really soon – we’re still really in the baby stages but the responses we’ve gotten so far are insane…. and I’ve sold shows before, but I want this one to actually get made!

Har Mar Superstar

I put a message on FB today asking if anyone had any questions, and some of them were crap but there were two that made me laugh… 1) If it was one on one roller derby, could you take Juliette Lewis?

I doubt it man! She’s tough as fuck! She’s wiry and strong, but complete muscle. She could take me for sure.

Ok and then the other question’s even worse: If you put together the ultimate power lunch, what would the ingredients be?

Man, the ingredients would be… business, power and intimidation.

The person who posed the question said ‘I hope it involves a scotch egg!’

That’s one thing I have on my rider in the UK. It’s the only thing I have outside of my requests. I have my usual booze and food and snacks, but it’s the only thing I have in bold letters at the bottom: NO SCOTCH EGGS. [laughs] If you get to the north, to Middlesborough or somewhere like that, you get given scotch eggs – WHO WANTS THIS? It always always ends up getting thrown. Cold balls of deep fried egg, you DON’T want that. It ends up getting thrown around. And then you end up walking on scotch eggs… [cackle] Sometimes you get half of the ingredients to make a sandwich, and you’re like, I don’t even know what I can do with that. Here’s the bread, here’s the cheese. Nothing to spread. Half the time it gets thrown away, so I try and cut it down as much as I can. Just give us more booze – that’s all we care about. [laughs]

Har Mar Superstar

Lastly: what can we expect from tonight?

It’s gonna be fun man – the shows have been awesome… So… Jubilation? [laughs]

One Response to “An Interview with Har Mar Superstar, Birmingham, UK – 14th November 2013”

  1. Gig Reviews | Gig Photography | Interviews | Competitions from Gig Junkies » Blog Archive » Har Mar Superstar + Lizzo + Racing at The Hare & Hounds, Birmingham, UK – 14th November 2013 Says:

    […] Still hungry for more? Take a look at the full set of photos from the gig on Flickr and then read Gig Junkie’s interview with Har Mar. […]

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