Flaunt Premiere | Corey Harper "Dried Blood"

by Jessica Romoff

Two years ago, a swarm of people had shoved me to the back of the room at the Winston House, as I was clutching the sweating neck of a beer bottle and balancing on my tiptoes to catch a glimpse of the new musician setting up on stage. Whispers fluttered about the crowd, like “Corey is my favorite around here,” “I think he’s friends with Justin Bieber” and “should I go up after and say hi or is that weird?” I promptly prepared for another pop-acoustic cover. Yet to my surprise, the Abbot Kinney socialite atmosphere was brought down to earth by Corey Harper’s no-frills bluesy riffs and a seasoned voice only someone raised on Americana folk rock could produce, cut with an energetic 21st century spin.

With sunkist California locks and ash distressed jeans, 24-year-old Corey Harper is a Topanga based singer-songwriter.  Now making waves with his new EP On The Run, its title track has received over 7 million streams. Harper has earned widespread acclaim from Rolling Stone, Billboard, Teen Vogue, and shared stages with artists such as Cody Simpson and Justin Bieber. View his latest single music video “Dried Blood” below and read the Q&A after:

Anyone who has listened to your music can witness your devotion to acoustic folk and 60/70’s rock traditions; from BB King to John Mayer. Many contemporary artists often turn away from this homage as they grow. How do you preserve the classic rustic sound, while adding your own modern pop to it, without sacrificing integrity?

Well I started getting into making my own music because of how inspired I was by all the music I grew up with… theres this intrinsic and intuitive process I go through before making a song thats due to those songs I’ve heard again and again as a kid. I think the most important part about being an artists is using whats inspires you, to create your own sound. Were never going to sound like our heroes, but trying and failing to sound like them is what ultimately becomes our own. So with that basis of sonic structure, I try and link new elements of nuance into my music because I want to connect to the current generation of music. I feel like if I just played what I was comfortable with because it sounds like something I’m used to, I would indeed be sacrificing the exact integrity I am always striving after, and thats relating to the people who haven’t heard the music I grew up on, and hopefully creating a bridge for them to discover it on their own somewhere down the line.

Your newest song “Dried Blood” seems like a hymn of self reflection and pulses with vulnerability. Can you go into this a bit, and what inspired the visceral lyrics?

I wanted to write a song that was sort of like a diary of my mind at the moment.. feeling like I needed to get out these feelings and almost question myself on why I feel the way I do. Writing exactly whats on your mind is extremely scary… I over analyze everything I do to the point of complete destruction.. I tear myself down just to be able to do what I know how to do and build back up. This song is sort of a way of seeing if anyone else feels the same way… the best part about being vulnerable in songwriting is seeing how many people feel just the same as you, and that helps. 

Is it ever difficult to perform these vulnerable songs in front of an audience? Do you ever get stage fright?

Haha, pretty much every time I’m writing a song like this, I’m like “fuck, if I finish this and release it, I’m going to have to play it for people”.. and thats terrifying in the moment. But like I said in the last question, I’m always overwhelmed with how many people can relate to the lyrics, so when I go to play it live I kind of have this courage of knowing that people in the crowd might just need to hear it. 

Your music video for "Dried Blood" relies heavily on classic American freedom symbols: an open road, beer and motorcycles, roaming through an open field with no direction. What was filming the video like? And what prompted these visuals?

I wanted to create a visual for this song that was sort of like scenes from a movie, where it wouldn’t be so directly explaining the song so that people can use the visuals to create their own story. Also, I really love beer and motorcycles (not at the same time of course) so this is kind of an inside view as to what I do when I feel the way the song explains. To escape. It was an incredibly fun shoot, didn’t feel like work at all. 

Your debut EP On the Run displays your knack for filtering yearning and heartbreak in catchy lyrics. One of my favorites is “I’m on fire.” What was the creative process like for On the Run and what is your favorite song to perform from it?

Well I cant take credit for Im on fire because its a Bruce Springsteen song I’ve always loved and really wanted to cover it, but the EP is basically just my first take at debuting myself into the world unfiltered and totally vulnerably who I was at the moment. All the songs are about a exact moment in time where I was in my life. I love performing On the Run the most because its the song that brought me to California to pursue music in the first place. 

You were on tour with Julia Michaels this past April. What was being on tour like? Was this your first time?

Being able to open for Julia was such a privilege. I had just been to a James Bay concert where my good friend Noah Kahan was opening, and they both have songs that Julia is on and wrote.. she has so many songs with so many artists I respect, she’s a lyrical genius and a melody queen.. an absolute powerhouse .. thank god she became an artist because its so amazing to see her do her thing on stage. She’s and extremely nice person and I had such a blast playing in Seattle and San Diego with her. Her fans are also amazing. I was pretty nervous to play just acoustically before her monster of a set, but the fans were very welcoming and accepting. 

Do you have a summer playlist? What are some songs/artists we would find on it?

Corey Harper - Dried Blood

The 1975 - Its not living if its not with you 

Lewis Capaldi - headspace

The Head and the Heart - Honeybee

Ryan McMullan - In the back of my Mind 

The Paper Kites - Revelator Eyes

Noah Kahan - Mess

Halsey - without me 

Travis Scott- 5% tint

The Beatles - HELP

Sufjan Stevens- Death with Dignity 

The Shins- Heartworms

Bea Miller- its not u its me 

Phoebe Bridgers / Better Oblivion Community Center 

Little Feat - Willin

Queen- Good Ole Fashion Lover Boy 

My Chemical Romance - I don’t love you 

What is living in LA like, after growing up in Portland? Does this have any impact on your sound?

This is an amazing question. I always find that writing in gloomy weather always helps me come up with the emotional aspect of my music… that all changes when living in LA… in other words yes. Absolutely… the thing that is most different is the way that I feel like I need to contribute to the community of artists and writers here. It pushes me to become better and I’m able to adopt certain things I learn from being around other artists that end up being in my music. You can easily feel like you’re falling behind here, and get really discouraged, but every one is going through the same thing. 

Who is your dream artist to collab with on a song?

Bon Iver

What upcoming projects are you working on?

Don’t want to give anything away too much but expect a lot of songs to listen to this summer/fall , and coming out and seeing me get really sweaty on a stage near you. 

Photographed by: Manuel Mancilla