Q&A: Jared Harper

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How would you describe your sound?
My signature sound is one that transpires from the influence of The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, The Beatles, and John Mayer. It is a little bit Indie-Rock mixed with Pop-Rock. It’s a silky-smooth husky voice layered over a fresh yet familiar sound.

When did you first become interested in playing music?
I first picked up a guitar when I was around 10 years old but I wasn’t truly interested in music until a few years later, maybe around 13 years old. I mainly played guitar back then and I actually didn’t start singing until my junior year of high school. I came home from school one day and I just had the itch to play and the rest was history.

What’s the strangest or funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a show?
I had a busking gig when I was first starting out at Fisherman’s Wharf and after my first song, the crowd was distracted and looking at someone else behind them. It ended up being a homeless lady screaming “turn it off” which I couldn’t hear, but the crowd laughed it off and started to cheer me on to keep playing. Hey, ya can’t win everybody over!

What are you listening to these days?
The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, and BTS are on rotation. I’ve also really been into slowed-down versions of popular songs, which I find a whole bunch on YouTube. You should look up “Earth, Wind & Fire – September Slowed & Reverb” on YouTube and let me know what you think.

What does music mean to you?
Simply put, music is a passion of mine. It’s a magical thing and I love to do it. Performing is my favorite thing and that is what keeps me going. Music is a universal language that allows people to share relatable experiences and that is a special thing.

San Francisco is full of music history. Who are some San Francisco musicians who inspired you?
I’m always finding a new inspiration to write about in everyday life, but really for me, my drive to keep writing comes from the satisfaction of finishing a song I’m proud of; it is an incomparable feeling. The writing process to me is the most grueling part of the process but maybe that’s why I enjoy the finished product so much. I also need songs to sing, so I guess as a singer-songwriter it comes with the name.

What’s the biggest challenge to becoming a musician today?
I almost feel since it’s so easy and accessible to record and release music now that it’s only getting tougher for artist to break out. On the other hand, the new opportunities coming from technology are incredible and present new artists with such a wide audience – it would be foolish to disregard the influence these new apps and platforms have on the music industry.

What are some of your favorite Bay Area music venues?
The Greek Theater is one of my all time favorites – two standout performances there for me were The Head and the Heart and Jack Johnson. It is just an incredible place to experience live music and I hope to play there one day. Another venue I really like is The Masonic, it has a great vibe to it.

Where do you like to get creative in San Francisco?
Fort Mason when Off the Grid is happening is a lot of fun. I also like walking around the Marina and out by the Presidio when I want to get fresh air.

What’s one thing that people would be surprised to find out about you?
One thing that many people don’t know about me is that I am deaf in my right ear. Music probably doesn’t seem like the obvious choice but I never found it to be a major setback.

Is there anything you’d like to plug?
I just released my last single “All for Me” on May 14 and it is available to stream on all platforms. If you are a fan of The Strokes, this one will be up your alley. I also did a groovy/funky cover of “Dynamite” by BTS which you can find on YouTube as well.

Photo by Justine Willard

Having released albums under Digital Nations, a label founded by Steve Vai, music critic Louis Raphael has remained deeply connected to the pulse of the San Francisco music scene. Following his tenure as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he embarked on creating Music in SF® to authentically highlight the vibrant offerings of the city's music scene.

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