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An Interview with Synth Lord Harvey Sutherland

Harvey Sutherland

Naarm/Melbourne-based producer, DJ, and synthesizer wizard, Harvey Sutherland, drops his debut album, Boy, (Clarity Recordings/Virgin Music Australia).

Mike Katz aka Harvey Sutherland has been on a steady trajectory in becoming one of Australia’s finest electronic artists. 

From his early EPs that reflect his crate-digging influences, to festival appearances at Glastonbury, Nuits Sonores, Pukkelpop and Meredith Music Festival, Harvey Sutherland has gone on to make a name for himself with collaborations with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and remixes for Disclosure, Khruangbin, Tycho, Surprise Chef, and Julian Hamilton (The Presets). 

Boy is a one-way teleportation to a hypermodern vision of funk. Recorded between London, Los Angeles, and Harvey’s own Swimming Pool Studio hosts a string of special guests including genre godfather, DāM-FunK, and sos. 

A wonder of rigorously perfected body of dance music elements bounced from the walls of a myriad prism of influences – from the hyper-produced studio pop of Todd Rundgren to the luscious grooves of New York boogie and the harsh snap of 80’s coldwave. 

The lead single “Holding Pattern” reveals Boy’s softer side – a smooth slice of city-pop that sees Harvey step up to sing a crooning lead vocal.

A beta-male breakup anthem in the spirit of Todd Rundgren, he whines to his former lover about their doomed relationship, not quite realising who the culprit might be. It’s capped off with a helluva  sax solo from Melbourne’s Damon Grant.

“I made most of this record in a circular loop between my studio and my psychotherapist – one informing the other, a slow grind toward some kind of Eureka moment, some realisation of self. It’s skeletal, angular, finished only when our time runs out. It is beyond the platonic ideal of Funk, as it is devoid of the necessary Looseness due to the neurotic overanalysis involved, however I feel comfortable in defining it as Neurotic Funk.”

Harvey has just announced a nationwide tour in support of his new album, which will see the Melbourne-based artist bring his funk-infused live experience to venues across the country, hitting Brisbane, Byron Bay, Sydney, Melbourne’s RISING, Hobart, and Adelaide, alongside a string of major festival appearances throughout 2022. 

We had a chat with Harvey Sutherland about his new debut album Boy, overthinking, and getting things right. 

Harvey Sutherland Boy

HAPPY: You’re a weapon on the synth! What’s your favourite synth you own and why?

HARVEY: The Korg MS-20 is probably the go-to; it’s just incredibly versatile and can go any place you need it to – big round warmth through to scratchy percussive noise. It’s intuitive and classic.

HAPPY: Where is the most obscure place you found one of your synths?

HARVEY: Most of my finds have been via ebay or some shifty Gumtree deal, but I did buy my first ever Yamaha Portasound at the Camberwell Market. Respect.

HAPPY: What’s the story behind the song title Michael Was Right About You?

HARVEY: Something my girlfriend once yelled at me. She was right about that

HAPPY: Your gigs are one big dance party, including the Oxford Arts Factory gig we went to on 24th June. What’s your trick to always get everyone in a room dancing?

HARVEY: I’ve always treated my live band shows like a DJ set — lots of seamless transitions to keep the floor moving, a couple of curveballs. Everyone in the band has to be tuned in — I might want to keep a groove going if people are getting down…

HAPPY: Which artists inspired your sound on Boy?

HARVEY: Todd Rundgren. Cluster. Andrew Weatherall. Broadcast.

HAPPY: What’s the nicest thing an artist has said about a remix you’ve done for them?

HARVEY: The Khruangbin crew are always lovely anyway, but they seemed to be really happy with the dubby version of One To Remember I turned in. No one else has ever sent me a pair of socks for doing a remix, so they win.

HAPPY: What’s a song that’s been released this year that you’d love to remix if you had a chance?

HARVEY: Hands down, Cash In Cash Out.

Harvey Sutherland’s second album Boy is out now. Get a taste for the album below.

Photos provided.

Interview by Lochie Schuster.