Having had his own experiences of being signed to international record labels, bad and good, Darryn Paterson-Harkness is almost the definition of an independent artist – happy to burn, package, design and deliver his own music when promotion time comes around. Also known for his output under the banner of New Telepathics, he has his own record label (Our Records), and is the songwriter and driving force behind Auckland indie rock trio Loud Ghost. Indeed, when it comes to creative energy Darryn is something of a force to be reckoned with, as Andrew Smit reveals.
Being true to a creative art is what should keep many an artist going forward, and talking with Darryn Paterson-Harkness you hear a strong desire to do just that, by creating music with real meaning. Whether it be a protest or a celebration, he wants to shout about it and he wants to care. It’s a sense of integrity that flows consistently during our chat about Loud Ghost’s self-titled debut album.
Darryn has been around. He has travelled the world, living a long while in UK and Germany, and produced music consistently over two decades. His former London-based band Serafin signed to multiple labels and sold over 100,000 copies across Europe.
Back in Auckland since 2008, he formed Loud Ghost in 2013 with Mark Hussey on drums, Sam Taylor on bass and himself covering vocals, guitar, percussion and keyboards.
“The name ‘Loud Ghost’ came out of one my songs where one of the lyrics was, ‘Hello loud ghost’, and I just thought that be a cool name for a band, which funnily enough is still a work in progress,” smiles Darryn.
He is enthusiastic about what he calls “…the thing – my band, my guise, and my family, we’re a unit.” The Loud Ghost album is being released on vinyl and digital via his own label.
“Getting this album pressed on vinyl is for me very special, and I’m very excited as I have worked very hard and I know it’s a good one.
“We have been working on it as a live band for two years and started recording last year. It is a live band and we tried to capture the live thing by recording the tracks live. There are some overdubs, but the core bass, drums and guitar are all live.”
It’s an evident labour of love for Darryn, right down to the hand-glued and stamped demo release CD version of the album. Tom Healey engineered the recording of half the album’s 10 tracks, but otherwise production credits sit with him as songwriter/producer and principal mix engineer, with song arrangements by the band as a whole. Wild and woolly at first listen, the songs soon reveal their underlying pop catchiness. There’s always plenty going on, with instrumental bridges, distorted vocals and that indie guitar band thrashy live sensibility.
After 20 years of making music Darryn is positive about the new digital world we now live in.
“It’s only the rich people that give a shit about streaming,” he says with a growing smirk. “You know, the ones that are missing out on the millions. Maybe the digital era means more people can listen to you, and you can reach more people. I am in two minds about it really. I don’t want to be ripped off and it’s important to cover your arse, but for me to be able to do my own artwork, make posters and edit videos, then fire away to the other side of the world a video or song, instantly, to your fans over in Europe and you don’t even use leads! That’s fucking brilliant!”
Still, he clearly holds vinyl dear and even misses the days of cassette tape.
“I still love tape! I still love working with cassettes and still make mixtapes for the car,” he admits with a laugh.
Darryn has another active musical entity, called New Telepathics, which has been going for 15 years. This one he treats more as a recording project.
“At the moment I am nine tracks into another New Telepathics’ record, which is slowly bubbling under, when I need a break from other stuff.”
But now that Loud Ghost has an album to promote that’s where the attention is.
“First the national tour and then over summer we have 15 or 20 new songs to work on, hopefully do some one-off shows and try and get over to Australia.”
He is talking with friends in Germany about taking Loud Ghost over there in a few years’ time. There could be no money in it, and now into his 40s, it begs the question about the challenges of living as a full time musician.
“It’s a lifestyle, and if you’re in it, you’re in it, and you just don’t even question it. You pull money together anyway you can,” he adamantly replies.
He does get some income from producing bands on the side and taking care of intellectually disabled kids every Sunday.
“The rest of the week is for music and family, where the music and creativity is part of our family, it’s just part of our lifestyle.”
Pressed, Darryn does admit to being confused about the future, but is clear on what he believes a musician/songwriter should see as a responsibility.
“What is the role of the artist?” he quips, and without second thought quotes: “‘It is as strong now as ever, an artist should protest suffering and celebrate joy, there is always something to shout out about.’
“Technology is really interesting at the moment because we can have instant connection, whether it be to Greenpeace on the side of an oil rig, or exposing terrible conditions on an animal farm. Artists need to realise our role is kind’a crucial, let’s get good art out there with good meaning. I hope that is the future, where artists are just bettering themselves and honing in on what they have got to say. Culturally we can inspire young people and I think that is really important for an artist to keep focused and inspire young people make right decisions.”