Harry and The Chicks

Interview: Amy Bell

Photo Credit: Elena Torrano

With the release of her new single 'Snakes in the Streets' coming out on Friday. We got to chat to Harry and The Chicks about her upcoming single and plans for the future. 

Congrats on the new single ‘Snakes in the Streets’, you have described this song as “your experience with street harassment and stalking”, what made you want to create a song to do with this?

‘Snakes in The Streets’ is about putting trust in people too soon. I can be so open with people that I leave myself vulnerable to others, and I’ve had this trait since I was a teenager. When you’re a teenager, it can feel like you have an audience around you that are eagerly awaiting your downfall at all times. I felt eyes on me, and my friends thought I was paranoid. At the same time though, I’d been added to harassing group chats made by some of my peers, and I’d even have people following me home.

Ever since then, my anxiety had festered and something needed to change. I wrote the song’s lyrics and melody on my walk home from the studio whilst thinking about the anxiety I was struggling with at the time of writing. I was suffering with sleep paralysis and woke up with my heart palpitating so fast it ruined most of my mornings. It felt good to tackle it in a song because I’ll be honest, I’m normally very positive and light hearted with my songwriting. I wrote the bridge whilst laying on the sofa that night, repeated the instrumental quietly and sang to myself ‘I’m anxious, I feel depressed, I’m embarrassed to get this off my chest’. I was afraid of coming across as dramatic, maybe that’s why I’ve never penned my anxiety even though I knew it was an underlying issue in my everyday life.

Ironically, on the next walk to and from the studio, I was followed and catcalled a new record fourteen times, for me. Strangers were wolf whistling and cornering me from their bikes, vans and even from their flats. It’s a scary experience being a young woman walking the streets of London alone, but positively, this experience gave me the narrative for the music video and a chance to highlight the major issue London has with street harassment from my lived experience.

Did you find it hard to write this single as it was about your own personal experience? How did you begin to write/record this single?

I'd say this song was a long time coming. I loved every minute of writing it. It felt like years of anxiety expressed in two minutes in a positive way. It's a collaboration between my producer, Imad Salhi, and I, which saw us create a hard hitting synth production that I would later create a vocal that would cut through the mix. I wrote most of the melody when I wrote the lyrics, but Imad helped refine it to make it as catchy as it could be. I've been sitting with it as the first of the new music I'm releasing since the beginning of 2021 so it's so exciting for me to be able to release it now. I hope people resonate with it.

I love how the song is upbeat about a serious topic, what made you want to make this song upbeat?

I am typically light hearted with serious personal topics, it's just the way I am. I have to see the positive or I can't see my way out of a bad time. When life deals you a negative experience, it's up to you how you deal with it; sure you can sit with it and be sad or angry for a while, but on reflection, there's normally a lesson somewhere to be learned and that's what evolves us as people. 

When two men shouted at me "excuse me miss, you dropped something, my number" I laughed and looked away. There is always a chance a stranger approaching you on the street can harm you, and I want to prevent that as much as I can so I maintain positive vibes but know all my laughs with people that cross the line in this way are nerves. The more it happens, the less I can laugh it off and the scarier it gets, sometimes it's best to just run. I'm definitely flight over fight in this situation. 

The song is upbeat to represent how I feel when this happens. It normally happens when I'm on a night or day out walking alone or with friends. In the music video, I show a journey of my friends and I on a night out, the journey there, and the journey home. Naturally, I'm excited when I go out as an extroverted young woman, and the upbeat production shows that, on the other hand it conveys me running away from the people that stalk, catcall and harass me. 

How is this different from all of your other singles? 

Production wise, this song is far more commercial pop. My previous singles have all had a more indie pop vibe. I'm finally finding my sound. 'Colour Me In', my debut, was a pop take on my roots as a rock fan growing up giving it an early 2010s Katy Perry & Marina and The Diamonds vibe. Since then, I've been trying to go more commercial, and this song was hugely inspired by artists like Griff and Kim Petras, but I think it still has an element of the influences that got me here. The song maintains an upbeat vibe like the rest of my discography so far, but this is the first time I think I've produced something with heavy meaning and it is so refreshing for me to make pop music with purpose. 

You’re currently working with the app ‘Safeup’, can you talk a bit about the app?

SafeUp followed me on Instagram a few months ago, and I was astounded by the app and how readily available it was to make our journeys safer. SafeUp is an app that was made by women for women and gender minorities to feel safer when walking the streets. Often when walking the streets we might call our friends or family to make us feel safer. This is a community of women and gender minorities in an app that you can call, and potentially ask to walk with you in real life since it is based on your near location. I was floored when I came across how they vetted the people who are on the app to make sure it was just a community for gender minorities. Sometimes talking to someone of the same gender can feel safer than talking to a stranger of the opposite sex. SafeUp started because there is a real issue women, trans and non binary people face across the world when it comes to catcalling and street harassment and something needed to change. My work with SafeUp in getting the word about the app out is purely on a collaborative basis, no money involved for clarification, I'm just very passionate about this issue and how we can solve it.

What is next for you?

Once Snakes in the Streets is out, I'll release the music video on March 8th (International Women's Day), and I have a few more creative projects around this track that I'll reveal during the campaign. I have some London show dates to be announced soon, and I'm working on my next releases that will come out throughout 2022. I'm really excited for people to hear a lot more new music this year! As well as making music, I'm a fashion designer and run my Harry and The Chicks handmade to measure merchandise shop with my mum who makes the clothes. We will be releasing new fashion designs this year and more excitingly, will be selling our designs at pop up merchandise stalls at my gigs, so please come to my shows! I have a lot of plans for my music and fashion this year since it's the first year outside of lockdown.

Thank you for having me!

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