ALBUM 'HALF LIGHT' DUE JUNE 12TH ON AKIRA RECORDS With his new album 'Half Light' set for release June 12th via Akira Records, Bristol-based Henry Green is sharing another glimpse of the upcoming record with new single 'Fabric'.
Speaking about the track, Henry said "I wanted to write about the need to speak openly, to embrace the vulnerability that honest words can bring. Fabric' is about that reluctance to expose ourselves, and to give every part of us to those who we consider closest. I love that visual of water soaking through layers of fabric, raw and honest words breaking through barriers we build to protect ourselves.
This track was slightly different to most of mine in that it was written purely acoustically, no obvious production style became apparent straight away. I decided to keep the track super intimate, resisting the temptation to build up the arrangement and put too many different production elements in."
"Call all the words out of me." (taken from "All"). The first lyric written for Henry Green's second studio album was a plea, scrawled in semi-desperation while wracked with acute writer's block. Today the line has taken on a far sweeter significance, immortalising the precise moment that Green's muse was reawakened, paving the way for his new album 'Half Light'.
Having left Bristol in early 2019 to settle down in a sleepy Wiltshire village, the electronic artist and producer wrote and recorded the album in his attic studio in six months. Reflecting on the experience today, the 24-year-old cites the decision to take on all production duties himself as just one of many causes of stress. "I've always produced my own stuff to some extent, but I took it too far the other way. And when you spend so much time on your own and have these two conflicting sides in your head, it's just a constant battle. And then you have these sobering moments when you realise that people are actually listening to your music..."
In some respects, Green was justified in being intimidated by the weight of expectation. Following the successes of his EPs Slow (2015) and Real (2017), and his debut album Shift (2018), he's racked up 71 million streams on Spotify and more than 18 million on Apple Music, and has won the respect of his peers, including former tour-mates London Grammar and Nick Mulvey, and recent remixers Cyril Hahn and Harvey Causon. And yet, their faith is ultimately repaid with 'Half Light', a record that finds Green harnessing that initial crisis of confidence to create music that's both emotionally honest and breaks new ground.
"A lot of the songs are about that struggle to express," he explains. "Coming into the record I wanted to make something that was a separation from myself, and didn't feel like such a window into my feelings. But because of my feelings throughout the process I think these are the most honest songs I've ever written."
While tonally intimate, many of the arrangements on 'Half Light' are more expansive than anything Green has attempted previously. "I'm always trying to counteract live instruments with something completely synthetic," Green says of the process. "I like the idea of having something recognisable at the heart of a track, and then everything around it can be ear candy, mangled or manipulated. But at the heart of every track there needs to be something that the listener can identify with."
With trademark self-deprecation, Green still very much regards 'Half Light' as a document of his learning process, and that's ultimately reflected in the choice of title. "I almost wanted to hint that this album is a transitional thing," he explains. "The half light is a lyric in the first verse I wrote for the album, and I love that idea that you're not fully standing in the sunlight. You're not yourself and you're slightly in the dark in your mind, but you know that you still have something to give... So the overriding feeling that I hope people get from [Half Light] is that it's a defiant record."
Question: How would you describe your music?
Henry Green : I think it's probably best described as ambient, chill electronic. I'm always trying to combine raw, acoustic instruments with contrasting, synthetic elements, centred around a soft, quite fragile vocal.
Question: Your new album Half Light is coming out soon, what can you tell us about it?
Henry Green : Half Light is a response to the halt in creativity I had last year, and an ongoing struggle with self confidence. It's quite an intimate record, pulling out into more expansive and electronic arrangements in moments. I think Half Light is a record I needed to write, in order to discover where to take my music, and myself, next.
Question: What inspired your new single Fabric?
Henry Green : Fabric was inspired by the need to speak openly.. to embrace any vulnerability that the honesty can bring, to give every part of ourselves to those who we consider closest. I really liked the idea of water soaking through layers of fabric onto the skin, through the barriers we build to protect ourselves.
Question: Is there a particular message you hope listeners take from your music?
Henry Green : Maybe not a particular message, but hopefully a feeling of escapism, tranquility.
Question: What or who was your inspiration to go into the music industry?
Henry Green : Just my love for music, creating new sounds. I think that desire to create moods and new feelings inspired me, the endless possibilities that music presented. I'm not sure I've ever been too enamoured with the industry itself, but I am grateful to be allowed to make noises for a living. I'm not sure I'll ever make something that I'm entirely happy with, but that's what motivates me to keep exploring and writing. I'm so fortunate to be doing it.
Question: If you could collaborate with another artist, who would it be?
Henry Green : Ah there's a few! I'd love to work with Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Simon Green (Bonobo), Sylvan Esso. If I could jump back a couple of decades, I'd love to have worked with Sade. I absolutely love her voice, and a lot of her songs have stuck with me since my childhood.
Question: Has COVID-19 influenced your music?
Henry Green : We had to postpone our tour which was a little gutting. It'd been a while since I'd played live, so I was really excited to head out and play some songs off the record. But I'm trying to look at this strange period of time positively, and trying to throw myself into new music.
Question: What's a typical day like, during COVID-19?
Henry Green : I'm a morning person, so I like to get up and have coffee, and then take my little dog out for a walk. Then head back to work on some new music. It's difficult to distract the mind from everything that's going on at the moment, so I've been trying to lose myself in creativity when I feel the motivation/inspiration.
Question: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Henry Green : Hopefully just enjoying the music that I'm making! Hopefully collaborating with lots of different artists, experimenting with different instrumentation and production styles, and still finding something new within the music every day. I never want to lose that feeling of adventure within music, so hopefully in the future, every day will feel like a treasure hunt for new sounds and new ideas.
Question: What has been your favourite part of becoming a music artist?
Henry Green : Probably the people I'm working with. It's so rare to find what I've got within this industry, so everyday I'm grateful for the friendship, trust and laughs I've found in my small team. From Stevie at Akira Records, to my manager Chris, to my bandmates/touring crew.. they're all really good friends of mine and it makes everything so much easier.
Question: What's next, for you?
Henry Green : Well, hopefully heading out on tour in September, but we need to ensure it's a responsible and safe thing to do.. so we'll see. I'm taking this time to start work on album three. There were a lot of things that I wish I'd done differently with this last record, so I'm excited to switch things up and try out new ideas.
Question: Can you share your socials? (links please)
Henry Green : Instagram
Interview by Gwen van Montfort