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Q&A: Band Harriet talks inspiration, style

Fledgling Los Angeles-based band combines varied musical styles, adds unique spin

Harriet, a Los Angeles-based four-piece Indie rock band laced with electronic and pop sounds, will play at AS220’s Psychic Readings room on Friday. The band — composed of Alex Casnoff on vocals and keyboard, Henry Kwapis on drums, Patrick Kelly on electric bass and Matt Blitzer on guitar — formed in 2011 and solidified its members in 2012.

With a fledgling Spotify presence, a bicoastal following and a deal with Harvest Records, Harriet has been on the road playing shows in New York and visiting colleges and universities in the area. The group’s next album, “American Appetite,” is set to be released Jan. 29. The show Friday — which will also include Simulcast, Follies and J. Mamana — will run from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The Herald interviewed Casnoff and Blitzer before Friday’s show. At the time of the interview, Casnoff was sitting with Brown alums in the Meatball Shop in New York City and Blitzer was visiting a Korean spa in Queens.

Herald: How did the four of you come together?

Casnoff: Henry and I had been playing together for some time, and we went to high school together. The band went through a bunch of different iterations. Eventually Pat — who was in a band with Matt — joined.

Blitzer: Pat and I were in college together, and he had been playing in the band for about four months and recording with them in Sacramento. One day, I got a call from Alex while I was stepping into a queer theory class at California Instutute of the Arts, and he asked if I wanted to join the band.

What would you call your style?

Casnoff: We like to take well-written songs and fuck them up as much as possible. Essentially, we try to take a pop song and see how far we can fuck it up.

Blitzer: One of the dudes who produced the album called our style a combination of Radiohead and Paul Simon, so that was pretty rad. I tell people we’re in an electronic rock band, but they think that means we sound like Imagine Dragons. We sound nothing like Imagine Dragons.

What is your inspiration, stylistically or lyrically?

Casnoff: We’ve been listening to a lot of David Bowie and a lot of African rock music.

Blitzer: We’re listening to Thee Oh Sees a lot. We’ve also been listening to New Order and Talking Heads.

Casnoff: I think this is common for our generation, since music is so accessible, but we really listen to everything — to hip hop, punk, dance music. I think it’s about finding little pieces from each thing that I hear and putting them into the band.

Can you tell me more about the tour?

Casnoff: We came up north for the CMJ Music Marathon on Oct. 15 in New York, which is like South by Southwest, but we booked as many shows as we could around the city. My aunt lent us her car, and we’ve driven around. We’ve played at Bard College and Sarah Lawrence College, and we’re playing at Wesleyan University. We wanted to see the orange and red and yellow trees.

Blitzer: Yeah totally. For sure.

Casnoff: All of the college shows have been so much more fun than those in the city.

— This interview has been edited for clarity and length.


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