Los Angeles by-way-of-the Bay writer, producer and self-proclaimed future of funk, Harriet Brown is exploring high-concept and highly visual sonics with, Mall of Fortune. His aptly named second record builds off of extensive computerized sounds that feel forward-moving with just enough nostalgia and help illuminate the sonic landscape he references. The cesspool of jealousy, attention, and anxiety driven by the social media age. The warm, filthy air that emanates from the slowly fading disk drives of old computers. The subtle unraveling of society that accompanies the hour-long-insomnia-infused drive home. All feel like welcome concepts.
Harriet plays every note of every instrument and sings every “come-hither” falsetto flight–save for two features. The album is a straight shot. Where his previous work feels more cosmic, Mall of Fortune is rooted in the everyday and the isolation of being so heavily connected.
"Bag Away" is a slow burn with vocals entering in a minute into the mediation and blending in, becoming another production element. The video finds Brown among a sea of muted tones with a zoom-in that sees him standing alone. We spoke with Harriet Brown to get insight on his vision for Mall of Fortune.
1) What was the inspiration for this song and video?
This song, “Bag Away”, was inspired by a certain feeling – the struggle of acknowledging paranoia – that I had been feeling when I wrote it, and that I’m realizing a lot of people I know have been feeling lately. It’s like being in a room full of people I’m uncomfortable with and feeling a lot of anxiety, knowing that I probably don’t have to feel that way, but I still do, because maybe everyone is staring at me.
With that in mind, the director, Amanda Kramer, and editor, Noel Taylor, came up with the wonderfully appropriate concept for the video – a simulation of a crowded room, almost like a ‘Where’s Waldo” scenario of a party, in which everyone is in their own orbit, yet aware that they’re surrounded by others.
2) Did you have a relationship with the people casted for the video. How were they chosen for video?
The majority of the people in the video are actually friends of mine from various parts of my life. There’s a lot of special people there, a lot of artists and musicians, actually, so maybe you’ll recognize some of the faces.
3) Who was behind the styling there are a lot of great looks that add a great dimension to the video?
The styling was done by my partner, Tammy Nguyen (who does all my art direction and promo photos), and me. Majority of the clothes are actually just from our closet, which are primarily thrifted. We obviously have too many clothes. Baby blue, creme, tan, burgundy – those were just the colors we had both been feeling lately. I always like to just wear my own clothes, and it was fun seeing everyone else wearing our clothes, too; it definitely gave new life to the forgotten stuff in our closet. But seriously, shout out to Tammy, she really made sure every outfit matched each person individually, as well as huge shouts out to Becca Marie Turner and Carson Stern for doing the same with the Hair and Makeup, respectively. And, of course, we were just really lucky that everyone in the video had inherent style – they really made the clothes come alive.
4) Were any of the extras aware of each other?
Not exactly. They all vaguely knew the concept of the video, but everyone, save for a couple of couples, was shot separately in a private room with just the director and the DP, so it was actually quite intimate and vulnerable. For most of the people, the video shoot was the first time they were ever even hearing the song, and no one, including myself, knew what any of the other people did. I’d say for 95% of the cast, today is the first time they’re seeing what anyone else did or looked like on camera, hehe.
Written by Jake Harrison
Photography by Tammy Nguyen