For Melbourne, Australia based artist Karen Harding, music is not just art but an outlet to bring attention to some of the things that are affecting lives across the globe. With a smooth yet convincing vocal delivery combined with powerful words, her EP, “I’ve Got a Secret” (for release on July 8, 2022) tackles issues such as Anxiety and Mistrust head-on, with the title track challenging listeners to address fear over a stripped down acoustic guitar and vulnerable lyrics. The EP was written during the Melbourne, Australia Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns.
The Lifestyle Republic caught up with Karen to chat about the project.
The Lifestyle Republic: Looking at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic and how it’s put a heightened focus on self care and anxiety, was the process of creating ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ a bit of a challenge considering the circumstances with everyone dealing with change?
Karen Harding: Covid-19 definitely changed the world.. in some ways it was incredibly challenging and caused so much anxiety, pain and suffering.. but in other ways, it has changed the world in some really positive ways. It taught us how important it is to take the time, to stop and discover what we love. For musicians, it gave us the space to get back to the love of writing and playing music for ourselves.
For me, ‘I’ve Got a Secret’ would not have been created if it wasn’t for the pandemic. The whole EP is a series of songs that was an exploration of the depth of my experience during that time and each song was written purely with me sitting in my living room with my guitar, expressing how I was feeling in that moment. The songs were written for my own expression, and at the time, were not written with the intention of sharing, which I feel provides a sense of rawness and authenticness.. vulnerability.
The title track, ‘I’ve Got A Secret’ was an introduction to these feelings being revealed, which is why it’s the first single, however, it’s also an exploration in itself.. At the time, I was making a lot of effort with my online presence, as many musicians were.. but, I was having my own challenges, again, as many people were.
The song explores the idea that we are sharing our best selves with the world.. our highlight reel, but that we all have a secret.. a hidden part of ourselves that we are not sharing. The thought of sharing these parts of ourselves with others is really scary, and the song dives into the thought process rattling around in our heads.
The Lifestyle Republic: You have been able to touch on heavy topics with songs like “Anxiety” and the recently released “Not About Angels” – as a musician, what has been your long term message that you would like for listeners who have been able to connect with your music to understand?
Karen Harding: It’s a great question.. I feel like it goes back to why we do songwriting in the first place.
For me, songwriting was always a kind of therapy.. an expression, and for a long time, I never felt comfortable sharing my songs.. I was afraid of sharing my experience, because I felt that they would be judged and I would be seen differently.
When the pandemic came along, oddly, I had the opportunity to connect with so many more people and I realised that these experiences are not unique.. we all have struggles.. we all have emotions and we are all trying to be better in our own way. I mean, take anxiety for instance.. in 2017 it was recorded by the World Health Organisation that 264 million people across the globe suffer from anxiety.. just think how many more there would be post pandemic and if you take it to overall mental health.. 50% of all people across the globe have some form of mental health disorder.
Rather than repelling people with these songs, the releases have allowed people to connect and create open discussion about how they are feeling.
Ultimately, to answer your question, my long term message is really about connecting us, as people and opening up authentic discussion, as humans.. making it ok to express who you are, in this moment.. warts and all.. eradicating the need to portray an image of perfection.
The Lifestyle Republic: To be able to create this art and to have listeners in other parts of the world identify with the lyrics can be eye opening. Has that aspect of the artistry had any impact on your approach going into this new project or looking ahead to future projects?
Karen Harding: This is very interesting.. I haven’t had any troubles connecting my songs with people in different parts of the world, which in many ways has surprised me.. Australia is so far away from most places and it’s incredible that you can form relationships with people in Europe or South America or Asia or the Middle East..
I have connected with people from so many different countries, with so many different languages and cultures.. I think that is one of the beautiful things about connecting music with the internet. While we all have our different societies and ways of life, I think it shows that ultimately, we are all connected and deep down looking for the same core things.
As a result, I have had opportunities to work with so many amazing people from across the world. I am currently working with an artist in Canada on a collaboration and a beautiful family in Argentina.
Moving ahead, I am just keeping myself very open minded.. you never know what could happen, but I’m very grateful for the connections I have been able to make.
“I’ve Got a Secret” EP (for purchase): https://karenharding.bandcamp.com/album/ive-got-a-secret-ep
Website – www.karenhardingmusic.com