Enter hrlum’s World with Peace and Colors

Words By Matthew Spence:

Scene: Two Homies In a Basement

Dope (Out) 

<an array of different dialogue and slightly inaudible noises. Bumrush one after another, with barely any space in between to breathe>

Homie 1: Yo, PICK SOMETHING ALREADY! Seeing the channel flip so rapidly is gonna me a panic attack.

Homie 2: Whelp, you let me have the remote. Blame your stupidity for your torture.

Homie 1: I didn’t let you have it. You took it when I was in the bathroom, and when I walked out, you held it up high, laughed, and threw a grape at my eye.

Homie 2: Some say we landed on the moon, and some say Kubrick directed it.

<Homie 1 grabs the TV guide from the other side of the couch as Homie 2 continues>

Homie 1: uhhh….. how about….. uhhhh… uhhhh

Homie 2: And you have the nerve to call me indecisive.

Homie 1: I’m picking, yo! oooou, CH1 Storytellers is on in 5 minutes.

Homie 2: Not too shabby, who’s on it?

Homie 1: An artist named “hrlum”

Homie 2: uhhhh…… ehh. I’m intrigued. Hey, are we in the 2000s or not? Cause we’re implying a 00s vibe but—-

Homie 1: Shhhhhhhh. Just change the channel.

Scene 2. CH1 Storytellers: So(ul) Amazing

<the

Peaceful evening, yo! How are y’all doing tonight? Before we proceed with our musically equipped program, You’ll need to follow these rules.

  1. Stop, Look, and listen.
  2. Be careful where you point your lighters, cause I don’t think cause I don’t think we had enough in the budget for flame retardant shit.
  3. Think. Really think. Deeply like you’re trying to list all the Disney Princesses. What does your soul connect with? Better yet, what is Soul to you?

Some of you may have a textbook definition, and some of you may be drawing blanks for words. You might need a Schoolhouse Rock tape to explain it to you. While that episode doesn’t exist, this artist next up is gonna be an even better frame of reference of the intertwining of soul and art. With eclectic music that offers audio lucidity. It’s like if you turned the Windows Media Player visualizer into an mp3. It’s not sporadic but pleasing and therapeutic in ways that some couldn’t really explain.

 

 

Without any further introduction and interruption, cause I know, none of you motherfuckers paid to see me. Tonight’s musical…..hrlum

 

 

Photo: hrlum’s Instagram

 

A Renaissance woman herself, it’s fitting that her name is tied to an influential area in arts and culture, even though she was born and raised in South Carolina. “Thanks to my mom!” Being a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, trilingual, connected to nature, and great conversationalist, the word trail-blazing wouldn’t be able to handle the fire she’s getting ready to cause. With 1 million streams with her song “innerg”, nearly an Instagram following of 15k, and respect and admiration from peers such as Willow Smith, Melanie Faye, DJ Harrison, and Dev Lemons, the list goes on and looks just as cool as the VIP list for Radioheads 1997. But she didn’t just get here with a snap of a finger; if life worked that simply, many of us would be in the Tipton Hotel right now.

Sliding down from the high C to the low C. Real name, Harlem Farr; she was a child of opposition towards curbing your enthusiasm, as her interests would reach many corners, pockets, and inner pockets. Square 1 happened at 6 years old, one random but thankful day, as her dad brought home a keyboard he found as a truck driver during a pitstop. Nothing cooler than a casual gift.

 

Her mom wasn’t sold right away, and understandably so; nobody is trying to hear dissonance past midnight my g. However, things worked out better than she and Harlem hoped for: “I didn’t do that [make unnecessary noise]. I guess I understood that this could recreate melodies.” Her first, go around trying to advance a bit more in music was the first step many of us take. Learn our first official song. However, Harlem did it with a twist. Playing and learning by ear. The song of choice. Elton Johns’ “Bennie and the Jets.” One of many artists she was surrounded by as a kid due to her parents’ music rotation. “They grew up [in the] 60s and 70s, so: Funk and R&B. I remember Cameo, Earth, Wind & Fire, Queen and even Elton John. Really so many artists; I feel like I got put up to game with that.” Bit of a contrast to her peers who had younger parents so, inherently grew up on 80s and 90s music. Those self-taught lessons would catch the eye of a better judge of talent than the judges on America’s Got Talent, her cousin, Barry Brown. “He saw something and was like, ‘Is she in lessons’ to my mom, and she was like, ‘No, she’s self-taught’. He was a pastor, so he was like, ‘The administer of music teaches lessons; I’ll go half-half, so she can start reading [music]’. I was like 8 or 9, and from that, I just kept going and going.” The Energizer Bunny ain’t got shit on her.

Still from IG

Joining musical programs, being a part of an orchestra, even playing tennis in the mix. Doing the most, in a positive way “I do a lot. Shout-out to my mom; I really did the most, and I still do the most. <laughs>.” Square 2. It was one thing for her to play for fun and enjoyment, but it takes one day and a moment where we wanna make the full move. Harlem’s day happened in the transitional period of many teens’ lives. Getting out of high school and going away to college. Circa 2017 yo. “Right before my freshman year, I got connected with some folks at the college, and one guy [a leader of the summer program she was in] was making music from his bedroom. and was like, ‘Any students wanna make music, come to my room. I have a setup'”. She heard that and thought, “Fuck it, why not?” (not her words, but in essence, the thought is there). She continued: “It’ was such a simple setup: a mic and laptop. Left the program before school, and I was like, ‘I think I could do that’.”

One Gargeband download later, soon, would turn into her first SoundCloud upload. “People received overtime, and I just made it a living to upload renditions and do more original stuff.”

hrlums’ Covers ranked by her:

-Outerspaceways Incorporated- Sun Ra

-She- Tyler, the Creator

-It’s a Shame -Isaiah Sharky

 

Graduating college four years later, in 2021, after the random music session, she reached Square 3. “I’m out in the world dealing with life; I think I’m gonna do this professionally.” Drop the “A”  & the “E'” and add the “U”, hrlum has entered the musical landscape.

Curating her sound of music, which I personally call “Kaleidoscope Soul.” Colorful, eclectic, and full of influences of old and new: Jazz, Neo-Soul, and Brazilian music. It feels like an audio kaleidoscope. I mentioned my label to her during our dope convo ass 2-hour convo, and she was flattered and open to it. However, she thinks of it as “Art Music”. She expresses it as “taking things and putting them through an artistic process.” Some have passed around the title of “Brazilian Soul” toward her way. No matter the title, the chemistry behind it remains well-intentioned with pure soul pampering.

A Mini Trilogy” or m-e-l-r-a-h. Great examples.

As she wants the music to be more than noise to fill in the quiet space. Putting emotion within every layer. “Deep-Thinking and Evoking,” are just some of the things she’d want her music to accomplish with the listener. With her key ingredients of harmony, playful elements, and peaceful elements, her music is perfect for headphone listening as she is meticulous in the process: “It may seem like a lot of things coming at you, but there’s a reason for every single part. Every single piece, doctoring it, adds to the flavor of my music. I want there to be a total relationship with everything happening.”

It’s not a smorgasbord of notes just because, in fact, it goes deeper than that. I mean, she did go to school for music composition. When I asked her what songwriting means to her, she offered an intimate answer: “I find it to be like creating a whole different world and so elevating. You just have this power to create an experience and the language. You just get in a whole mental state cause you’re communicating through a whole new lens and language that speaks more truer to whatever you’re experiencing and feeling. Honestly, these days, because I’m so ingrained in the music, I’m finding myself accessing emotional points to where I’m crying while I’m playing. It’s gotten to that point; it’s a deep thing, a spiritual thing, and a tactical thing.” This kind of bond and care is what comes through in her music. Which would ultimately lead to her biggest song to date, “innerg”.

 

 

Just focus on the art, and the rest will follow (as much as she does wanna get better with the business side of everything). “I didn’t do anything. People ask me what were my promoting tactics were; I posted it, and I don’t know if it was the same year, but it just really caught traction.” Courtesy of Assorted Tapes, a possible co-sign from him, opened the floodgate, but Harlem was just in her own world as this was all happening: “I wasn’t even there when it hit 1 million streams.” It’s a tug of war for feelings. Right out the gate, going viral early on with one of your first official releases. It’s great, but at the same time, it’s a complicated feeling. Too soon. “I’m grateful that’s my first representation of me, although it’s like, I don’t know.”

Without a doubt, she’s extremely grateful for the moment, but letting life flow is the wave: “Whatever song needs to reach people, it will.” Maybe that moment will come sooner than later, once more.

[Commercial Break]

 

 

Looks like your summer night rides and Sunday baths are gonna get a lot more soothing and smoother. Introducing hrlums new EP, The Art Project EP. 5 tracks that grow your infatuation with harmonies and peace. Expanding “Art Music” with refining qualities and rewarding elements. “Savin’ Captain” combines lyrics that’ll stop your spinning world for a second of reflection and a guitar tone that makes Sade’s “Cherish the Day” smile like a proud aunt. The closing track, “A Garden Star” contains chords, vocals, and an atmosphere that feels supremely opalescent. It’s a musical present wrapped in a bow. Don’t miss out on this special offer. Call 1-800-This Is My Jam. Call Now.

 

 

Being in the works since August 2023, with more fleshed-out tracks from 2022 sessions. The Art Project is a short but sweet example of growing with your art. As hrlum ironed out her ideas more on this project, It’s like walking by a finished work of chalk art. However, getting to her harmonic playground isn’t the easiest hopscotch game. A bit of feeling stalled was a new enemy: “to somehow to think of the next thing and a proper showcasing and representation of each time. There’s been a little bit of conflict”, but it’s all good: “I overcame it, and releasing this EP is so huge for me. I’m glad I finally did it. I’ve been talking about it for years, and it’s not easy to put together songs. It’s such a large process, especially if it’s self-produced.” Doesn’t matter if you’re in the major league or minor, putting yourself out there and giving 200% in what you love ain’t easy yo. Far into our conversation, we were discussing our tendencies toward wanting to be Ghostface. Now you see me, and now you don’t. Attention isn’t necessarily the goal, but at the same time, the concept of it is something we have to accept. “Fighting it for our dream,” as she puts it.

In that battle, she’s still ahead of the curve. Artistically and creatively sharp, her mind is already on the next project. As hrlums, clarity for her future is as picture-perfect, like a Deja Corin painting. It’s no wonder that a major supporter of hers is Willow Smith. After covering her song “hexagons” (wonder if she’ll ever drop it?) on Instagram and the power of tagging, soon it’d reach Willow’s radar. It’s safe to say: I think she liked it. (I wish I had asked about this moment, but hey. Oh well.). The two, in spirit, feel like two sides of the same coin. Harlem explains: “I feel we’re so the same. Like I’m not interested in staying on one path, always challenging, and not being complacent where I am.” Only a divine fortune cookie could give us an answer if they’ll ever collab, so in the words of Bob Marley, “Time Will Tell”.

Q&A Interlude

Songwriting lessons with Stevie Wonder or a full set at the Apollo Theater?

Hrlum: Writing with Stevie, then I’d do the solo set. So that way I’d be prepared, I’d need to get all that from Stevie before I’d go on that legendary stage. Ideally

Bass Session with Thundercat or Pino Palladino?

With Thundercat, I’m really interested in his harmonic language. I’d want to pick him for that but Pino….he got the juice.

 

 

It’s safe to say, however, collaborating is never out of the picture with hrlum. Being a former member of the Psychodelics and other projects, she’s like a session artist waiting to be part of many great projects and moments in time. However, that balance is a must regarding being a frequent collaborator and her own artist. “It’d definitely have to be a balance, cause I wanna create my own projects with my own band with my own music and figure out what comes up in that space for me, cause I don’t think I’ve had too much of that. I’ve always been apart other people’s projects and that’s fun too. So, whatever it may be, I won’t stop either one.” Art drives the soul, so sharing is caring for her. “I hope to become some type of mentor or guiding force for other musicians; even talking to peers, there’s so much to learn from each other.

As we wrapped up our convo, it led to a whole bunch of shit: thrifting, Kendrick vs Drake, ear-training, and so much extra shit, that I didn’t know how to fit it into this feature piece nor wasn’t sure if I needed to use it for this feature. Hell, the way our convo started, we opened up on how we both woke up late and almost rescheduled. That alone showed that the convo was gonna be a fun and good. However, leading to the end of our chat, it seems that hrlum has more in-stored, and being along for the ride will be like a trail through nature on a beautiful day. She’s come a long way If I shall and others shall say.

 

 

 

Follow hrlum on Instagram. Stream The Art Project and the rest of her music any DSP and support her Bandcamp. Remember to Soak Up the Sun

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