Harry writes music for various different artists around the world and music for film, television and games.
He is also a pianist and keyboard player, with a passion for jazz, pop and classical music. Harry was a founder member of the hugely popular band, Young Kato, which took him and the band on many different national and international tours, at major arenas, performing at sell out headline shows, major UK festivals and international touring along with various television and radio performances.
I caught up with the amazingly talented Harry between his busy schedules, to ask him about his passion for writing and performing music. What struck me was how similar his feelings are to writing music as mine are to writing books. You live and breathe it and without it, life would be unthinkable!
What form does your writing take? I write music in many different genres and for lots of different platforms. I sometimes write by myself, but I also work in a song-writing collaborative with two other musicians and we write songs for other artists. I also write music for films and games. The range of genres is really wide, from mainstream to jazz, alternative and including acoustic and electronic instrumentation.
How often do you write? I write every single day! There are so many things around me that give me inspiration, I find that I need to write every day, to be able to express myself through the music. It’s a biological need! I can’t remember the last time I had a day without writing music.
How does your writing make you feel? When I write music, it can make me feel a huge range of different emotions. Sometimes I can be completely absorbed in the writing proses where nothing else in the world matters apart from that one single moment when I am writing. In terms of emotions, it isn’t as simple as ‘happy’ or ‘sad’, but it’s much more subtle. I feel I need a lot of empathy, considering who will be performing the music, being really mindful about the lyrics of the song and what they are trying to convey (if there are lyrics!) and also what I want the impact of the song to be on the listeners.
I feel that once you are completely absorbed in the creative process, whether that be composing, writing a book, cooking or drawing up a plan for a building, it’s not just about how it makes you feel once deeply in the writing process, but more about this thing that you are creating and how other people are going to feel about it. So it creates a feeling of wanting to serve the creation and also a feeling of selflessness.
Where and when do you write? I write everywhere. I have transformed my flat into a music studio, which on the one hand is incredible, but there’s no escape! But really I write everywhere. I can be walking down the street, sitting on a train, reading a book, or simply having a conversation. But at that moment, if I start to create a melody, a harmonic movement, or something rhythmical, the key thing is to capture the idea. If I haven’t got a laptop and keyboard in my bag, you’ll see me frantically singing into my phone, capturing the new ideas, so that I can use them again later. Some of my most creative moments are completely unpredictable! I love to create something which wasn’t there before, which can then manifest into whatever you want.
What do you write about? I write about everything. If there’s something that has the potential to illicit any kind of emotional response, then I will write about it, whether it’s about love, heartbreak, conflict, politics or social issues. It also depends on whether I’m writing for myself, or following a brief for someone else. The great thing about the creative process is that you don’t know where it will lead. You only know the starting point. At the beginning, you often cannot predict the path, the middle or the end. Therefore, I need to accept that what I am writing about might change as the songwriting process emerges, multiple times!
What the best thing about writing? For me the best thing about writing is being able to create something that has never been made before, out of nothing. It is an amazing feeling being able to say that this creation didn’t exist 5 hours ago and that I have brought it to life. From there, if this creation can cause people to deeply feel in new ways, whether that is through sadness, joy or inspiration, and if the music can also make people think differently, then I am always continually blown away by the power of music and the impact it can have on people’s lives. The power of music ripples through people, and can create huge changes within individuals and within society. I love the way that my music can have these massively profound and transformative impacts.
But even before this, in the writing process, if I am working with other people, I love that too, as you may be working with people who are so different to you, but you then create something together. It is always incredibly unique and something you could not achieve alone. Writing music in this collaborative way is also a huge learning journey for me and the other writers. We get to learn how to express ourselves in brand new ways, and to fuse together so many different ways of looking at the world, and articulating how to express those ideas.
How long have you been writing for? I have been writing music since I was a baby! From as young as I can remember, I have always been expressing myself through the keys of a piano, with my earliest songs captured on old school tape recorders! My more significant compositions started from the age of 10. It’s fascinating to dig out some of the old recordings. But we grow, we change, we move forward, and I know I will be writing differently as the years go by.
If you’d like to hear Harry’s amazing piano playing for yourself, head over to his website: www.harrysteele.co.uk
You can also contact Harry on his mobile: 07577238229.