Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed singer songwriter Harper Starling about her music career, what inspires her, and her new single, Say My Name.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m a Wisconsinite “cheesehead”, llamas are my spirit animal, I’m obsessed with the 80s and anything with disco balls, and music is as necessary as breathing for me.
When did you first WANT to write songs?
I remember listening to Taylor Swift’s SPEAK NOW album when it came out and I thought that it would be so cool to write from my own life experiences like she was doing.
When did you take a step to start writing songs?
Lady Gaga had released the BORN THIS WAY album and after listening to the song “HAIR” I felt inspired to start journaling my thoughts and recording melody ideas as voice memos.
What was your first song released, and what was it about?
My first song, “EUPHORIA”, was about the feeling you get when you let go of all your fears of failing and just go for what you want.
What was your latest song released, and what was it about?
My newest single, “SAY MY NAME (Why Don’t Ya Babe)” is about calling out a toxic relationship (be it romantic or a friendship) and realizing that all you need is to love yourself.
Focusing on your latest song. What were your biggest challenges with it?
My biggest challenges were the melody and composing the music. I am better with lyrics but I was very fortunate to collaborate with Cindy Valentine and Joe Cruz both have worked with so many amazing artists and are great producers as well as songwriters.
How many songs are you working on right now?
I think I’ve lost count! I’m always working with Cindy on new music and chances are there will probably be another one written while we are in London.
Do you keep to a theme with your music, or just go where the mood strikes?
I don’t think I set out intentional to write about empowerment and honesty and self love but, most of the music organically follows that theme.
What is your favorite song you’ve recorded, and what do you love about it?
My favorite song hasn’t been released yet (so it’s a bit of a surprise) but it will for sure be out this year! I love how vulnerable I am in the song and it’s definitely a change from what I’ve put out so far.
Do you find other people’s music inspires you? Who do you listen to most?
Absolutely! There are many artists that inspire me whether it is the lyrics, melodies, or rawness of their vocals. I listen most to Lady Gaga, Dua Lipa, Olivia Rodrigo, and Doja Cat.
Do you write your own music, or do you have musicians you work with?
I actually prefer collaborating with other musicians as I think multiple creative minds are better than one. More than anything, I’m very fortunate to work with my writing partner, Cindy Valentine, on all my music(a former Arista/Sony recording artist). She has killer ideas and definitely understands who I am as an artist.
Do you play any instruments?
I do! The ukulele and some piano. I’m definitely no Elton John, but I can hold my own through simpler songs.
Do you like performing live, or does it scare you? Where can people watch you?
In a perfect world, I’d be performing live every day. It’s where I feel most like myself. Right now, people can watch my performances on my YouTube channel and on my upcoming tour starting March 3rd, 2022.
Is your music available online, and where can people listen to it?
Absolutely! My music is available on all streaming platforms. The best place to go to listen is via my website www.harperstarling.com where all social media links and streaming links are located.
Are you able to make music full time, or do you have day job?
I am very blessed to be able to make music a full-time job. This type of career requires a strong work ethic.
Are your friends and family supportive of your music career?
1000%. My family has been my #1 fan since day 1. My sister and I actually got matching tattoos I designed on the first day I decided to make music a full-time career.
What’s something you never expected about being a songwriter? What have you learned that surprised you?
How much you need to be able to open up about personal experiences. It’s those moments that are honest and vulnerable that are the ones that listeners can really connect to.
Have you had any experiences that really stand out because of your songs?
I’ve had people reach out to me in DMs mentioning that they heard my music or read about me in interviews and were very touched by the message of the song. To know I made a positive impact in someone’s life makes all this worth it.
Do you have any important events coming up we should know about?
Yes, I’m excited to tell you that I join The Wanted on tour in March. I’ll be attending various events for London Fashion Week, and have several magazine shoots and radio interviews lined up.
What is the first piece of advice you would give to anyone inspired to write songs?
Just keep writing and know, it’s ok to collaborate and ask someone else to help get your feelings converted into lyrics when you’re stuck, or your melody converted into a musical composition when you’re not a multi instrumentalist. No song is bad, but allow for improvement and finally, the more you work at your craft, the better you become at it.
And, finally, are you proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Of course! I think it’s important to honor the journey and the work that has gone into pursuing my passion for music.
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