Headlining: Jess Harlen
Date: Friday 4th January
With: The Mank + Jimmy Davis
About: Recently dubbed “an artist to watch” by Rolling Stone, New Zealand born soul vocalist Jess Harlen has been paving a way with her hypnotic groove with 2 full-length albums under her belt.
You may have seen her at some point over the last 5yrs touring the world as a member of Blue King Brown, or you may also recognize her from Muph & Plutonic hit Don’t Worry ‘bout Nothing, however it’s within her
solo venture where Harlen really takes flight.
Signing to Plethora records in 2010, Harlen teamed up with hip hop producer Plutonic Lab to release her debut album Neon Heartache, which was welcomed as “one of the year’s best releases” -Herald Sun, for which she was awarded Best Female Artist at prestigious The Age EG Awards. Neon Heartache is yet to be released outside of Australia however was coined “an exceptional contribution to Australia’s musical identity” -Time Off.
Breaking open 2012 with the release of her second album Park Yard Slang, ‘a combination of relaxed cool and obvious care’ (Rave Magazine), Park Yard Slang is released worldwide (digital distribution) which recently received 3 nominations in the Waiata Maori Music Awards, NZ.
Her signature style has also been described as ‘strong and delicate, soulful and streetwise, with traces of Lauryn Hill, MIA and Florence and the Machine’ (Canberra Times) and ‘speckled with Motown and hip hop influences but retaining it’s own uniqueness’ (3D World).
Aptly described as “A strong soul singing sister, continuing a long tradition of Mana Wahine songstresses from Aotearoa… taking it to the world” by Che Fu, Harlen is of Ngapuhi and Ngati Porou descent and a proud representation of Maori people achieving dreams through difficult circumstance.
Looking to expand her horizons, Harlen is based between Brisbane and Boston, currently writing new material for different projects through Native Tongue Publishing, but will be back to Australia and NZ to hit the summer touring circuit 2013 so stay tuned.
Jess was recently awarded a place in competitive The Seed-Management Workshop, which she will be attending in Oct 2012 and would like to thank Arts Qld for assistance in funding to fly back to Australia for the event. After sharpening her management skills at the workshop, Harlen hopes to bring her music back to NZ.
Keep an eye out for some new collaborations on the horizon with US and NZ artists.
“File alongside India Arie and Tracy Chapman.. an urban gem”
– Music Australia Guide
“She has that easy swagger and conviction that is telltale of all great things”
– Mama Kin