Grammy Award-winning musician Dhani Harrison’s first solo album ‘IN///PARALLEL’ will be released on October 6 through BMG. Echoing influences from his time as a composer over the past few years, the music of IN///PARALLEL paints a cinematic soundscape.
Dhani has been busy since the release of his last album with his collective thenewno2. In the past four years Harrison has scored a handful of feature films, marking his big screen debut as a composer on Warner Bros.’s Beautiful Creatures, which the LA Times praised for its “cool alt-rock sound thanks to the haunting music of Harrison”, as well as Sir Ben Kingsley’s critically acclaimed Learning to Drive. Harrison also found the time to score four TV series including Tony Goldwyn and Richard LaGravenese’s The Divide, two seasons of the Paul Giamatti executive produced show Outsiders, as well as Amazon’s original series, Good Girls Revolt.
Mark Millar recently caught up With Dhani to talk about ‘IN///PARALLEL’
Hi Dhani how are you?
Hi I'm doing great I did a duet the other day with Annie Lennox at the Global Citizens Festival and I've been doing rehearsals, everything is going really well. I'm happy.
First of all, I'd like to congratulate you on a stunning album. I listened to it last night on headphones and I was taken to another place.
Thank you so much I'm really glad you listened on headphones because a lot of the little subtleties in mixing and automation and the location and sounds tell a story, so if you have a good set of headphones and have some time to get trippy, that's the best way to listen to it.
You have recorded albums with your band Thenewno2 and movie soundtracks. Why did it take you so long to record your solo album?
I think the story was still being told. All of the chapters were still unfolding as I was living my life. I was also trying to build a giant body of work. If you grew up in my family you don't get much of a chance to start developing as an artist before everyone starts pointing fingers at you. I tried a crazy plan to make myself into a faceless band so I could have time to develop my career. Now that I have done what I’ve accomplished I feel really good about doing a solo album - I wasn't ready before. I feel like it has more impact for me and it generally means more. I feel the graph is a long graph rather than straight up, straight down so I feel like it was the right time and I have been composing a lot recently under my name as opposed to the band name Thenewno2 so that kind of got me over the fear of seeing my name on something. Halfway through the record Jonathan Bates from the band Big Black Delta said to me,
“I hope you give this record the launch it deserves, and I hope you release it under your name, you should do that you owe it to yourself, and it's a great record ." I took him seriously and it gave me confidence and realized – " I can do this."
Did you approach the songs differently when writing for this album than you would with Thenewno2 and your soundtrack work?
Yeah, definitely I think it was kind of a combination of what I used to do with Thenewno2. I started Thenewno2 with lyrical ideas and I definitely approached soundtracks with whatever scene I was scoring but this was a combination of the two. I started by making the music and then as I listened to them they transformed into these songs. There was a lot of time spent living the songs before I could write them. It's like they are in the cloud and if you concentrate really hard they become clear and you can pull them out. It manifests itself.
Did the songs come easy?
When they were ready, yes but it wasn't for want of trying. When something isn't ready to present itself it doesn't. Maybe something will happen in your life like an event or you wake up one morning feeling differently and it’s a sunny day or its a rainy day and suddenly you have a different perspective and then suddenly I’m like, “oh yeah there’s that song, It was there all along.” and suddenly it starts to take a shape.
Did you go into the recording with any preconceived ideas about how it should sound?
Yes, I started it before I did a soundtrack called Seattle Road which I released on a double vinyl so if you ever find a copy of that it's like almost the older brother of this record but it's a soundtrack. Id got the sound from these sketches for these songs that I did which I had to put on hold and then I had to do the soundtrack. I didn't want to give up that sound, the director Ryan David was being really great he said, "whatever you want to do, go for it." So Seattle Road made me realize that I was going in a good direction. So I went back and did it the right way.
You said about the record - “It’s an introspective trip from where I was to where I am now,” “I had things happen during recording this that changed my perspective on everything.” Was it positive things that happened?
Yes, in life when you look at something sometimes it can be a bad thing and then the next day you learn something from it and you're like "actually that was good." Its just perspective I think. During the making of this record I got to a point in my life where I stopped thinking about things as good or bad and I started to get healthier, I felt that I wasn't going anywhere in my life and I went back to programming and started doing a lot of meditation and started really taking care of myself and being kinder to myself. Sometimes being kind to yourself involves making tough hard choices but that’s the strength that you need to treat yourself well, so once you start raising that conciseness in your mind and you're getting a different vibration you start being on a different frequency then all these other things start falling into place.
And the world has gone crazy. The years 2015, 2016 and 2017 haven't exactly been easy years for the planet, so everyone’s perspective changes and you grow older and you see different things for being events rather than “that was a bad thing, that was a good thing.” And that changes you and that got me to the place where I started seeing the record from.
You deal with a lot of heavy topics but was it still an enjoyable experience recording the new album?
Yes very, sometimes talking about stuff helps and to be aware of everything that is going on around you. I think a lot of people let everything go by and don’t notice it. I started noticing everything more and it wasn’t necessarily like I was trying to make a depressing record but the times we have been living in have been pretty intense. It’s not a sad record it’s an intense record.
Did you produce the record yourself?
Yes, I did. I was sketching it out and working on it at the same time I was doing all the soundtrack stuff, so usually I would be going back and forth writing or mixing with Paul Hicks who is the guy I compose with but we were very busy so I had the album as my little side project.
What would you like people to take away from listening to the record?
It about your own experience in life there is so much of the world that’s telling you to be afraid and be scared of this that and the other or to obey, so you’ve got to look at the facts and do your own research and you’ve got to have your own opinion about stuff and your own perspective only then can you really discern what in the world is really hot air and what is actually real.
You start your first headline tour in November. What can we expect from the shows?
It won't be the whole album from start to finish but there will be a lot of the new record on it. I have got an incredible new band which is part Big Black Delta, part Summer Moon, and Mereki, so it's a combination of all those bands and Thenewno2. I think it's a very powerful band, the rhythm section is to be reckoned with. I really look forward to revisiting some of the old stuff that people may have heard but in a new light. It’s so far been far been really powerful.
Coming from your background, did you always aspire to be a musician?
I kind of grew in a studio so it was more like being part of the furniture really. They say, "man becomes that what he gazes upon." You are what you look upon, If you spend all of your days with athletes you are probably going to end up in a team and if you spend all of your days with musicians then someday you are probably going to want to get involved in that. The gift that I got given was I got to be around all these great people and they were very encouraging of me to get involved.
What have you been listening to recently that you could recommend?
I was really into that Ritual Spirit (EP) from Massive Attack, they had a vocalist on it called Azekil and he had a record called Raw Vol.1 which was great. I love Run The Jewels and I'm a big fan of Orbital I actually went back and started listening to their album In Sides again. There's a great song from Portishead called Chase The Tear and I've been listening to Aphex Twin's – Ambient Works. I listen to a weird mix of stuff.
Is there a record that you always return to?
I really, really found myself listening every day at some point to the Blade Runner soundtrack by Vangelis, it’s incredible, there are some great synth sounds on it, it's such a seminal soundtrack. It ties a lot of my favourite music together.
(One last question)
What advice did your father George Harrison give you about the music business?
Other than the stuff that I have ignored like, "don't!" (Laughs). Yeah, maybe without even saying anything he taught me the value of collaboration and how he had fun with his friends and it really showed in the music like The Travelling Wilburys and stuff. He had fun on tour with Eric Clapton’s band, I saw that really made him happy. If you are at work every day and you have got great people around you who are collaborating with you and inspiring you then it's not really hard work its just a really enjoyable life and that’s kind of where we are all trying to get to, to have a life that makes us happy creatively. There wasn’t so much that he said, just the way that he lived his life.
Poseidon (Keep Me Safe)
The Light Under The Door
All About Waiting
Admiral of Upside Down
Nov 6th – New York *Knitting Factory
Nov 19th – Seattle – The Crocodile
Nov 20th – Portland – Doug Fir Lounge
Nov 22nd – SF – The Chapel
Nov 28th – Santa Ana – The Observatory
Nov 30th – LA – The El Rey