An interview with Harbor & Home’s Kaleb Williams

James Garbett interviews folk rock band Harbor & Home's Kaleb Williams about lyrics, style, and music in age of streaming.

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As the world of digital music continues to grow exponentially bigger, with songs by global megastars now receiving billions of streams, it’s curious to note that, simultaneously, it’s also become far easier to stumble upon delightful hidden treasures. Smaller bands that you never would have encountered, are now only a playlist away.

With their gentle folk song “Summer Lover” just passing the prestigious one million stream mark on Spotify and having just released a quartet of songs from their live studio sessions, Harbor & Home are continuing to build upon their impressive accomplishments. Hailing from Minneapolis with a distinct indie folk/rock style, the band have steadily amassed a loyal and passionate following in the four years since the release of their debut album. A glance at their promotional video on their Kickstarter clearly demonstrates their passion: ‘music is my escape’ lead singer and co-founder Kaleb Williams claims, stating that ‘the experiences we’ve had is something we need to share.

I caught up with Kaleb and discussed the impact of the new digital age on the growth of their band with him stating that ‘it has played a huge part in what we have done so far. Spotify is a huge asset to us and consistently puts us in connection with more fans every month. The fans have truly been the reason that we are able to do what we do. Honestly, without resources like Kickstarter, we never would have become a band.

Harbor & Home possesses a style and ardour quite unlike anything else seen in the genre, with their songs imbued with an almost nostalgic quality. When asked about the musical composition process and how they came to their authentic unique sound, Kaleb replied that ‘most of the time lyrics come first. Or at least the idea of what I want to say. There are a few times where a lick on the guitar is just too good to pass up and I force myself to make time to create the rest of the song when that happens. Melodies are often born out of singing to myself in the car. Lots of missed runs and voice cracks are the start of any Harbor & Home song.’

Harbor & Home possesses a style imbued with an almost nostalgic quality

Even down to their unique album cover of “Dark Days”, a black and white image of a figure running into a cave, Harbor & Home’s homespun design is hard not to fall in love with – One of our favourite photos!’ Kaleb claims when I ask about its origin. ‘We saw the photo by one of our photographer friends and immediately told him we needed it for our cover! He was gracious enough to let us have it! I think we love the imagery of someone entering the unknown with nothing but a small light and a huge ambition. My favourite part of the image is the string he hangs on to so that he can find his way back. I think that was kind of the way we felt starting this band. We were all so excited for the journey ahead, but the road looked extremely daunting. Luckily, we didn’t need to follow the string back.’

When discussing their albums, from their titles to how their style has evolved, it’s obvious that Kaleb is still just as dedicated to his craft, having a clear motivation behind his music: ‘I think if we go back to our mission, we see that there is so much darkness and pain that can come out part of our experience. Part of us being honest is being clear about our situation we find ourselves in. Both albums are part of our life journey and where we found ourselves at the time. I think Dark Days was the acknowledgement that we are in some dark times, but Fighter was the culmination of revelation for us when realised that even though times are tough, we were made for this. We were made to fight’ Also claiming in regard to the changing style of their two albums, Kaleb affirms that ‘we try to keep our genre a little more fluid. I’m a very distracted writer and find keeping songs within one genre a bit boring. I think you can always expect to have at least a few songs that are a different feel that a lot of the rest.

Both albums are part of our life journey and where we found ourselves at the time

The musical landscape may be constantly evolving but it’s clear that Harbor & Home understand the importance of holding on to their now signature zeal and their homegrown, wistful style continues to be just as alluring. Kaleb himself stated that he had something to say with his music and with the power of Spotify and Kickstarter, its clear people want to listen.

 

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