Last year 23-year-old Darren Hart, better known as Harts, played the Bendigo leg of Groovin the Moo as the local unearthed act. Since then, Harts has taken off, headlining sell-out shows and playing huge festivals including Splendour in the Grass, Falls Festival, Bluesfest and South by Southwest. This year Harts returns to GTM as part of the full tour line up and this weekend he will be playing at the University of Canberra.

If you’re a Triple J listener you’ll be familiar with a couple of Harts’ tunes such as Red and Blue and his latest single Peculiar, but if you haven’t had the chance to catch him live before, you should definitely head in early to catch his set.

While once signed to Island Records/Universal, Harts has been an independent, one-man show for the past three years, performing, recording and producing everything himself. But as busy as he is, he still managed to answer a few questions for us:

What sort of music did you listen to growing up and do you think they have influenced your style?

I didn’t really listen to music growing up it wasn’t until I started playing music in high school that I started listening to music and getting into music that way. But when I did I started listening to a lot of rock music of the time like Oasis and the White Stripes, stuff like that. My older brother got me into a lot of hip-hop and the things that it was sampling; soul and funk, Prince, the Isley Brothers, and Earth, Wind & Fire. And that really blended together with the rock to form my musical taste.

Do you have any advice for young people wanting to make it in music?

Learn as much as you can about music and learn as diversely as you can because I think diversity will give you longevity in your creative process. And also share content, it’s so hard to compete with all the noise from other bands and other artists and there’s so much good music today so if you really want to stand out you have to show people why they have to listen to you or why you are unique or why you have a place that can’t be replaced. And I think the key to that is content and quality content, really doing something that no one else can

What motivated your decision to stop working with a record label and become independent?

For that time in my career it was very clear to me that a record label couldn’t really do much for me, they couldn’t help we progress any further and I was doing a lot of work for myself anyway. I think the record labels, they do have power, but you really have to already have some sort of base for them to pour fuel on the fire and at that point in my career there wasn’t much fire. I wanted to put out music whenever I wanted and be independent and have the freedom and control to release whatever I wanted when I wanted.
I started putting a lot of music up on the internet for free and that started growing my fan base a lot more. When you’re starting out that’s a better way to do it. I was young when I started out I thought that was how you do it. To get into the music industry you have to have the record label and stuff but that’s not how you do it! I think it’s more about the quality of your music and how much content you have and making people aware; sharing music for free, on blogs, on the internet to get people talking rather than going straight into the model of trying to get people to buy stuff on iTunes and that sort of thing.

What have you got planned for this year?

I’m playing at Pink Pop Festival in the Netherlands in June. It’s pretty big, well it’s gigantic actually. It’s amazing to get the opportunity to play that. I’ve got an album coming out in August, my second album release. I’m just finishing up the final tweaks and the final mixes on that now so I’m hoping to have another single out before then. And there’ll be an album tour, I’ll stop by Canberra for sure! And I’m at Splendour in the Grass again this year.

What can we expect to see from you at GTM this year?

Lots of energy. It’s a shorter set than I’m used to but it’s going to be really high energy set. I’m looking forward to it. It was a really good crowd last year and they were really amped, so I’m looking forward to that again.

Who are your top picks to see at GTM?

I really want to see Drapht, I’m been doing some work with him in studio hopefully that’ll end up on his new album. I want to see him because I’ve never seen his live show. The Rubens will be cool to run into again, I did some shows with them late last year. Some Victorian regional shows where I got to support them. And Ngaiire is awesome live, I really like her vocals.


And if you need that’s not enough to convince you, he also comes with the recommendation of the legendary Prince, who said Harts reminds him of himself when he was younger and invited him to his studio to play with him. I don’t think you could get a better endorsement than that.