Interview: Harlequiin Drops Latest Track, ‘You Want Me To Be Art’

London-based producer, Harlequiin, has dropped his latest track, ‘You Want Me To Be Art’.

The fresh, glitchy pop number is included in his fourth solo EP, ‘Decade’s Dream’ – which is a five-track project.

The captivating track features breakthrough singer, Eloise, whose vocals mesh perfectly with the underlying rhythm and background newsbeat.

Aside from his solo project, he has worked with Eloise multiple times, producing two EPs for the songster.

Eloise said about their latest track:

It’s about the pressures on women to be a lot of contradictory things. I wanted to make fun of that Cosmo magazine and 80s beauty pageant ideal of what being a woman is. I like that it’s feisty but also kind of neurotic, it captures that contradiction.

Harlequiin – also known by his real name, Rory Simmons – has performed with admired superstars including The 1975, The Maccabees, Blur, Mount Kimbie and Friendly Fires.

His solo project, ‘Decade’s Dream’, allows the talented producer, composer and musician, to take centre stage, portraying his confidently discovered sound.

He has earned support from the likes of Wonderland, EARMILK, 1883 and many more for his fresh and untried methods.

His recent release and lead single, ‘Water Me’, featured the vocals of artist, Amelka May.

We caught up with Harlequiin to chat about his latest track, balancing a career as well as being a father, and future collaborations in the pipeline.

So Rory, we have to ask why you chose the name Harlequiin? 

The name Harlequiin came from a book by Nabokov called Look At The Harlequins. It’s quite a surreal story and I loved the imagery of it. I kind of wanted something that wasn’t too literal and could throw up some sort of curious/abstract narrative. I guess the primary colours and black lines of a traditional Harlequin jester are slightly at odds with the gothic 60s cartoon art of Harlequiin. But that’s why I like it. And I added the extra ‘i’ because I like it visually – and it optimises the old google search element!

Can you tell us a little about your track, ‘You Want Me To Be Art’? 

This is what Eloïse says: “It’s about the pressures on women to be a lot of contradictory things. I wanted to make fun of that Cosmo magazine and 80s beauty pageant ideal of what being a woman is. I like that it’s feisty but also kind of neurotic, it captures that contradiction.” We worked on this tune together last year and felt it needed to go on the EP. I found an old country tune acapella intro that I loved and chopped it up to oblivion so the original lyrics almost have a completely different sentiment now.

What was it like working with Eloise on the single? 

I’ve worked with Eloise loads in the past producing her single ‘Now He Wears White’ and ‘Studio 54’, as well as her first EP. Her lyrical palette is always so evocative, with the references both pithy and full of weight and meaning. Her sound is so effortless and she owns an enviable amount of faux animal print clothes.
Thistrack is from your upcoming fourth EP , ‘Decades Dream’. What else can we expect from the project? There is a second EP coming later in the year, a remix from London producer Peter Ibbetson and a few live shows in France (plus possibly a London launch).?There’s also a few cool collaborations coming later in the year.?

We understand you’re also a family man. What’s it like balancing the two? 

Balancing babies and music is tough but rewarding…. I managed to smash two laptop screens in a week last year due to multi-tasking – mixing vocals with one eye on Peppa Pig caused some extensive damage…. twice. (I’ve learnt my lesson).

Did you have any other aspirations or was it always music? 

I had a notebook when I was 13 listing my heroes and aspirational figures in my life. That list read ‘Gary Lineker, Steve Davis, Roald Dahl’. Ironically, the same Steve Davis now DJs and promotes some of the most exciting new music in the UK… so in a weird kind of way I’ve gone full circle. And of course, I still love Lineker.

How did you get into music producing? 

I’ve been a session musician in London for about 15 years now playing with loads of different musicians. Making my own music has always been a big part of what I do, and I was releasing more jazz based music around 10 years ago. Gradually, I built up a studio and started working with other artists. There seems to be a blurred line of what really defines a producer these days. But I guess creating music or being involved in that process in some way is what’s important to me.

Can we expect more collaborations this year? 

Yeah, this year I’m planning to collaborate on a track with an artist based in Paris called Beki Mari. There’ll be more tracks out with Amelka May as well as some other new artists. I’m also working on some music with amazing vocalist NYM who releases her first track in May. We’ll be launching a live show with NYM soon too. I’m also producing some music for a singer-songwriter called Frances Lea. She’s great, sounds somewhere between Animal Collective and Laura Marling! I’m on tour a bit with other artists over the summer and at the end of the year. I’ll be doing some gigs with Jamie Cullum, Friendly Fires and a tour with Aussie comic Tim Minchin. Plus a couple of other exciting writing projects. However, my main focus for the year is Harlequiin.

If you were to skip five years, where do you see yourself? 

I’m hoping in five years that I’ll be working on some more collaborations with Harlequiin, my favourite experience of touring has been small town US club tours with other artists. If I was doing those sorts of shows with Harlequiin over the next five years I’d be delighted. 9:30 in Washington, House Of Blues in Boston, Roxy in LA. Such fun towns and venues to play. I’d also love to play some shows in South America and generally build the live show. Hopefully in 5 years time I’ll be some sort of suburban dad that’s still allowed to fill my studio with synths and other toys…. 

You can listen to Decade’s Dream here:

What did you think of Harlequiin’s latest track? Tweet us @CelebMix to let us know your thoughts!



Written by Jodi

Journalist. Radio presenter. Music enthusiast. When I'm not writing, you can find me listening to the radio, reading, eating, binge-watching series (in an impressive amount of time), or on a plane to anywhere other than England!
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