Southern Californian singer/songwriter Harrison Sands has had a hell of a year. In February, Harrison was featured throughout Abhi The Nomad’s debut LP “Marbled,” dropped his very own EP, “Everything’s Fine” in March and recently released his single “Gun” with Dani Rae Vaughn. This track is a complete jam, with its fat bass lines, powerful horn section, tight drums and Harrison’s sweet pipes. “Gun” was definitely written for the ladies. Being a fan of his sound and work ethic, I decided to hit his line and ask him some questions.
Hamilton: Where are you from?
Harrison Sands: “I’m from Southern California, born and raised! Originally, I’m from the Palm Springs area, and yes, I know, your grandparents have a home out there. Now I’m based in the LA area. I live in “The Valley,” which is basically the only way to afford living in the LA area unfortunately.”
H: What kind of music did you grow up one?
HS: “Oh this is where it gets super embarrassing. I had the weirdest taste in music as a kid. Initially I grew up listening to classical and Broadway stuff because my dad is a classically trained singer. On top of that he and my mom would play me everything from Earth, Wind, and Fire, to the Beach Boys, to Journey. When I got to the age of picking music myself, I was deep in the NSYNC game. Also, had a few Weird Al CD’s. I listened to a lot of comedy tapes too when I was younger. It wasn’t until high school that I started listening to “cool” music, and that was only because my friends would make me playlists.”
H: When did you realize that you had pipes?
HS: “I’m still not sure I have “pipes” but I have been singing since I can remember. Between my dad always rehearsing for shows in the car, and my mom singing away any time music from the 80’s came on, I sang a lot. There’s a story my parents love to tell where my dad was in a show called the “Fantastiks.” He would always take me to rehearsals and I would mirror all the choreography and I essentially became the directors sidekick. Any time someone forgot a line or something they would point to me and I would spout it off. I guess you can say I was raised to be musical.”
H: Did you ever take singing lessons or music classes?
HS: “I took one semester of music courses in college before I changed majors, which is a whole other story. That’s actually where I met a lot of the musical friends I have now. But, I was in choir in high school and college. Never really took it as seriously as I probably should’ve though. Now I’m at the point where I wish I had taken lessons and learned how to properly sing because it’s freakin’ exhausting!”
H: Do you play any instruments?
HS: “Define play… just kidding. I taught myself how to play guitar, piano, and drums well enough to write songs. I got a guitar as a gift for my 19th birthday and that’s what kind of inspired my love of writing to be honest. I had a piano in the house growing up that I would mess around on, but never took any lessons or anything, which I regret now because knowing how to actually play would make everything go so much faster workwise.”
H: Do you remember your first time recording?
HS: “Yeah I do actually. I had written a couple songs and asked my buddy Abhi if he would help me record them. I knew he was doing all this music stuff, but we weren’t really that close at the time. We just knew that the other was musical in some way. I recorded a couple songs in his ‘sweaty closet of a room’ (his words) and that’s really where we hit it off and started working on a lot of material together.”
H: What’s the ideal studio session?
HS: “Weirdly enough I love recording in isolation. As far as a vocal studio session, I would love just a great mic, a computer, and just let me go to work. I record like a crazy person. I’m very much a perfectionist, so I will record the same verse 30 times before I find the one I like, and then I usually end up hating it the next day and redo it. But, if I’m recording a whole song I would want a few of my incredibly gifted music friends in a room full of instruments, lock the door, and then see what happens. I think the thing that most musicians lack is access. It’s a lot easier to stand out musically when you have 100 instruments at your disposal, and that’s all I want in a studio session. The ability to say, ‘You know, a sitar would sound sick right here.’ And then a sitar appears and the song continues.”
H: What motivates/inspires you to write and make music?
HS: “Wow. How much time do you have?… Nah, I’m just kidding. I mean everything around me inspires me, which is pretty cliché, but it’s true. I use a lot of my own experiences to inspire songs, I use friends and family’s experiences, and some songs I’m just inspired by an imaginary scenario I invent. I use a lot of events that are going on in the world to inspire music as well. I could just be driving down the street and think of something and it’ll inspire a line or something. My voice notes on my phone are full of random ideas for songs.”
H: How did you link with Abhi?
HS: “So he loves telling this story onstage during shows, but I was actually his RA in college his freshman year. That’s how I found out he was making music. I would walk by and we would chop it up about a new song that came out, and we would always joke about me “hopping on a track.” Then we kinda had our own college experiences until I graduated, and came to start making music together. It’s kinda escalated since then and been a crazy ride so far.”
H: What’s your favorite track of Marbled?
HS: “Damn. That’s tough because I really like that album top to bottom. I was lucky enough to do most of the backups on most of the songs, so I got to watch them develop from the initial idea to what everyone else heard. I think Marbled and Letter for God are the ones I still listen to and I’m still so impressed with the musicality and originality. My favorite that I was involved on is Spacecraft for sure! There’s just something so pure in the delivery on that one that I love.”
H: Did you learn anything from him? Did he learn anything from you?
HS: “I mean I think we are consistently learning things from each other to this point. I know musically I’ve learned a lot from him, but most of all learning to not be afraid to push the boundaries and push people out of their comfort zones. You’d have to ask him what he’s learned from me, but I always joke that I’m glad he can’t sing so he keeps me around! I think that is one thing that I’ve been able to help him with is harmonies in particular, coming from a choral background I guess.”
H: What are your thoughts on the American Alien Tour?
HS: “Holy crap was that a good time! It was probably the most exhausting experience I’ve ever been a part of, but I would do it again tomorrow. I really loved being in NYC, but I love the city so I’m a little biased. The East coast is just so different from the West that it was fun for me. We definitely almost missed our train from NYC to DC, which was insane. We were sprinting through the train station, which is a labyrinth, with our bags and literally stepped on the train, sat down and it pulled away from the station. That was a crazy 72 hour stretch from NYC to DC to Boston. I’m pretty sure I slept 6 hours between the 3 days…
I loved performing my song “Ain’t Nobody”. I think there’s a certain emotionality that you can put into a live performance that you can’t on a recording. In Abhi’s set, performing “Sex n’ Drugs” or “Somebody to Love” were probably my favorite because every night the crowd would go crazy for those two. That’s such a huge thing when performing live is the energy the crowd provides. It only made our performances more fun!”
H: I saw you at the Mercury Lounge in NYC. The lady and I was loving y’all. Do you remember that night? Any partying?
HS: “Yeah! That show was insanity! There were so many people packed into that room. The energy was incredible! One of our better shows for sure. It’s funny because Abhi and I are the lamest musicians when it comes to “partying.” I had friends in the city that I went out for dinner and drinks with, but no real partying for me. Although in NYC, dinner and drinks was an all-night thing apparently? It was a pretty casual night, and I still didn’t sleep, so maybe I did party?”
H: Let’s talk about your newest single “Gun.” This joint is funky. Can you walk me through the track?
HS: “This track was so fun to make! My guy Abhi was the genius behind the production on this one. It was way less produced when we started it to be honest, and we just kept coming up with ideas like “we should do this here” or “we should get horns here,” and it just mutated into the funky joint it is now. The horn section is incredible right?! I have some friends that are dope players. Patrick McGihon (Trombone), Everett Kelly (Trumpet), and Jake Boring (Saxophone) crushed it on the horns!
The symbolism behind “Gun” kinda hits a large spectrum. I think there’s the immediate sexual metaphor, but also a deeper idea behind it. The idea of a “Gun” representing every surface thing about a guy. The song makes a plea to women to not necessarily fall for the guys flashing their money, things, and “BDE.” There’s a bunch of guys that aren’t going to use their ‘gun’ to attract women. They may use weird stuff like good conversation and intelligence.”
H: Can we expect a music video?
HS: “You know I always create these elaborate video ideas when I release music, but they always require a budget of like 50k. So, I hadn’t really planned on making a vid for this one as much as I wanted to, but I’ve had a lot of people express interest, so I may work on putting something together for it.”
H: Besides the music, what else do you enjoy?
HS: “I’m really into sports and being active! Love playing almost everything, especially basketball. I also love cooking and eating! I grew up going to the beach a lot too, so being in the ocean is the best! I feel like I’m filling out an online dating survey, so I’ll probably stop there.”
H: What can we expect next from Harrison Sands?
HS: “Lots of music. I’m wrapping up a collaboration album that kind of evolved from meeting musicians and just creating with new/old friends. Maybe another single from the collabs before release. I’m also working on a full-length album for early next year which should be fun. Plus, whatever performances come up between now and then! I’m pretty stoked for 2019.”
H: Do you have any words of advice for people who are getting into the industry?
HS: “Just create content. I think sometimes people get too caught up in creating “the perfect song” and lose the momentum of creating because they’re tinkering with the same track for forever. I think there is an inherent fear that it may be “the song” and that’s it. But, there’s always a “next great song” so why shouldn’t it be yours. Just constantly create for yourself and people will recognize the genuine nature of your music. There’s a lot to be said about music that’s not created for an audience, because I feel like those are the tracks that do well because of the sincerity in them.”
H: Any last words?
HS: “I think everyone has heard enough from me! I just want to thank everyone who listens to my music and took the time to get to the end of this interview. I hope you were able to get a little insight into the life of Harrison Sands. Thanks again for the interview! This was a great time!”
My man Harrison Sands went off on this interview! He took his time and provided you people with enough information to write a biography about his come up. The homie has a great sense of humor and is extremely passionate about his craft. One thing I realized while writing this last paragraph is the concept of “intuition”. Harrison Sands goes with is gut and only surrounds himself with the people who are perusing nothing but success. This is definitely something that you need to keep on your mental while you grind for your goals and aspirations.
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