“When I won it, it all just sort of happened. I didn’t take all the opportunities that I had offered to me because I just wasn’t ready.” Triumphant in 2013’s Rockquest competition, taking first place in the solo/duo category, singer/songwriter Harry Parsons reflects on that high school moment in hindsight.
“I was only 17. At that stage in my life, all I cared about was hanging out with my friends, drinking. All the stupid stuff that a teenager worries about,” says the UK-born, Cambridge- (Waikato) raised musician. “Even when I released the ‘Lost EP’ [August 2015] I was just doing it for fun, and it really hit me that I had to go hard with it when I was probably about 19, like, ‘Oh crap, I want to do this seriously.’”
Having arrived at the cafe lugging around a guitar and other equipment, now 21-year-old’s easy-going and likeable nature is immediately apparent. Coming from a musical background, with his father playing in orchestras and his sister a folk musician – the genre Parsons has also aligned himself with – many influences have shaped him since getting into guitar at eight and playing in various school bands. He says that heading into a pop music degree straight after school was a natural step.
“It felt like the right thing to do. I didn’t know what else to do. I think I’ve learned more than I would’ve learnt if I had chosen not to go, and would have regretted it. I just learned so much about songwriting and the theory of it all and how important it is to have a business mindset in this realm of being an artist. You’ve got to be business savvy too.”
Having drawn influence from Bob Dylan and Matty Corby for his tellingly smart debut EP, he shifted towards alternative pop/rock singles Exoskeleton and Crown. Real, Parsons’ most current single release introduces a new era again, though he happily admits the song originally sounded a bit country.
“When I first went to record all that stuff with Carlos [producer Carlos Barnett], I had a band. So I wanted to do it with a live band, but he suggested we try doing it a bit more electro-pop and I was really nervous about that!”
Parsons’ vision for the purpose of the track included the importance of straying from your path to properly experience life. Opening up about his own interpretation and the inevitable experiences of growing up he hopes might motivate people to go after their own dreams. Acknowledging those who helped him along the way has always been in the back of his mind.
“I always like to give credit where it’s due, the worst thing to do is forget that. You’ve got to thank the people that stand by you and I get a lot of support from everyone in the NZ music industry. A lot of advice, a lot of, ‘Keep going.’”
A video for Real was shot by James Murray in Christchurch.
“I’ve never done this before, but basically he’s working on that down south and then sending me videos of footage and photos. ‘What do you think of this outfit?’ And then I give him feedback. It’s all being done like that.
“I do think Real is the best thing I’ve done yet, I’m very proud of it. Onwards and upwards from there, I think. I’ve got so many demos ready to go.”