Karen Harding’s track ‘Morning’ with Shift K3Y landed ahead of her forthcoming EP this summer and blew up with heavy radio (BBC Radio 1, KISS FM, Capital Dance) and big playlist support.
She recently hit the milestone of 400 million streams of her music and ‘Morning’ has added to this with nearly 2m streams on Spotify.
Aside from her undeniable talent as a singer and songwriter (she has written for other artists including The Magician, Felix Jaehn, Just Kiddin, Keisza, Eli Brown, Purple Disco Machine and many more) she is also a DJ with a great love of house music. She recently did a guest mix on Diplo’s show on BBC Radio 1.
We caught up with Karen to learn more about she kept herself productive during the lockdown, mentoring upcoming female artists and more.
T.H.E – Hey Karen! Welcome to T.H.E – Music Essentials. How has 2021 kicked off for you?
Karen Harding – Hello! 2021 has been great so far! Was nice to release ‘Morning’ with Shift K3Y in January and for it to have gained such an amazing response.
I have put out a lot of emotional heartbreak songs in the past and it was nice to put out something that was so positive and energetic after such a tough year for everyone.
The acoustic video of Karen Harding is now up on YouTube, and you can watch it here.
T.H.E – The story of how MNEK discovered you in 2014 and how you have grown ever since, is very inspirational. What would you say were some of the biggest challenges faced by you then?
Karen Harding – I think some of my biggest challenges were ones that I had set for myself, the mental battle of not giving up and to keep pushing myself to get where I wanted to be. I was in the north east and just felt like sometimes it was an impossible task to ‘make it’ in the music industry. I didn’t know where to start with getting my music heard, how to reach to labels (and be taken seriously) and to work with producers. I think I learned a lot in the first year after I signed my first record deal and maybe I wish that I had known more about the ins and outs of it all rather than just the ‘dream’.
T.H.E – And you mentor quite a lot of upcoming female artists. What would you say they face the most in terms of challenges?
Karen Harding – I love to help in any way I can with new and upcoming artists. I was lucky enough to mentor on a female Hypertribe programme through last year and I really enjoyed it! I would say the biggest challenge new female artists face is dealing with confidence and rejection. From my experience, sometimes it’s too easy to take someone’s word for it, especially when they may have a bigger CV or have had more success but it doesn’t mean they know:
what’s best for you.
know the best route for your music.
I think its important for upcoming artists to believe in their music, to understand that not everyone is going to like it but that doesn’t mean it’s not good!
T.H.E – You also have a great penchant for DJing. Would you say the lockdown has resulted in a lack of inspiration given that you wouldn’t be DJing as much?
Karen Harding – I started mixing through lockdown, thought it would be fun to do it alongside singing live and I really enjoy being able to play music I’m a big fan of. I definitely feel very inspired after a good night out, whether that be performing, going to watch a gig or even cocktails in a bar! Having the music throughout those nights always helps get the creative juices flowing in the studio. I guess my remedy for that was having a lil party in the house on my own on the weekend or a boogie in the kitchen whilst cooking, I was always trying to listen to new music throughout lockdown to keep myself motivated.
T.H.E – How have you kept yourself productive in the lockdown?
Karen Harding – Fortunately I have a home studio set up which I actually upgraded earlier in Jan 2020! I’ve been writing a lot, doing a lot of zoom sessions and also recording a lot too. It’s been quite fun actually, learning new things every day is very helpful and I think will really help me for future sessions. I’ve been making sure to spend a good amount of time outdoors, walking and exercising as I think that helps with the inspiration too.
T.H.E – Lastly, what can you tell us about your plans for 2021?
Karen Harding – I’ve been working on my EP over the last few months and it feels good to see it finally shaping up. It’s almost ready to go! I’m really excited to release a body of work with some material that I’ve been wanting to put out for ages but it’s never been the right time! So, that will be coming in the first half of the year and I’m hopeful that I’ll be gigging all of this material out to a large crowd very soon. Can’t wait for that!