Dhani Harrison has a story to tell. After working with thenewno2, Fistful of Mercy and scoring movies and television, the musician found himself hearing a certain sound in his head that he had to make real. The result is In///Parallel, Harrison’s first solo album, a 10-track record that was released on Oct. 9. The album is an urgent collection, tracking technological anxiety in “War on False” to modern loneliness in the rocking “All About Waiting” and the quieter “London Water.”
The record is the culmination of two years of on and off writing and recording. Harrison had finished recording the score for the film Seattle Road with collaborator Paul Hicks when he began writing new songs. The result is a layered, haunting sound, mixing Harrison’s calming vocals with electronic touches in the music.
Nicholas Slayton spoke with Dhani Harrison following In///Parallel’s release, discussing the album’s origin, how his work in film scoring helped and the role of technology in the album’s social anxiety.
Nicholas Slayton for Loser City: You’ve been working as a musician for more than a decade. Why was this the project you decided to make your solo debut on?
Dhani Harrison: I think it was a smart time. I could do it as an artist without being judged for anything but the music. After pivoting to movies and TV it made sense to tell this story. With this album, I’d gone so far down the line that when I’d bring it to friends for their input, they said “I think this is a Dhani Harrison record.” When it was all taking shape, no one wanted to step in affect its course.
LC: So much of this album feels nonlinear. The songs don’t have a traditional structure or flow. It almost feels like a sonic atmosphere rather than more linear songs. Was that an intentional idea you were going for?
DH: I didn’t want to limit myself with the structure. There were moments where I didn’t have the full picture but I had an idea. I wanted to start with the story first. I was talking with [musician] Jonathan Bates about this, it was almost easier going backward with this; composing from memory of a story rather than being on a certain time frame.
LC: You went into this after finishing scoring Seattle Road and after a few years of TV and film work. Did you approach the writing and recording from that angle, or was it more like your work with thenewno2?
DH: I definitely approached it from a scoring perspective. I came into it after composing for film and TV. There were little things I wanted to do. I want to keep doing it in the future, maybe even direct something. I kind of want to do something like a score for a film that doesn’t exist, like what RZA did with Bobby Digital.
LC: Even though this is a solo record for you, I noticed a lot of themes and topics from your past projects popping up, including paranoia about technology and isolation. Loneliness especially felt like a major theme in this. Are there motifs you focus on?
DH: You can only write to your own experiences, even scoring a film is personal. Whatever filter I have, it’s there. And I just think there’s so much weird shit in the world right now, you don’t have to to draw on something else. As for the technology element, I think also with gadgetry has evolved to a certain point where we’re all staring at our phones trying to keep up with everything.
LC: Going off that motif idea, I caught a familiar lyric here. “London Water” reuses the “I guess I’m on the road back home/And so, I’m all alone” line you had in “Hiding Out,” from the first thenewno2 album, You Are Here. Why bring that back?
DH: There is a bit of “Hiding Out” in it, yeah, you’re the first person to bring that up. Things just come back sometimes, that song came back in my head and just kept going on. That line hadn’t had its full day, I think so I had to bring it back here.
LC: You’re about to go on tour to support the album, but after that, what’s next? Are you focused on composing, or are you going to focus on your own records?
DH: When I finished this, it definitely left me in an interesting new place. The end of this was a jumping off point. I want to do more scores, maybe a sci-fi film. But the next record is going to very simple. It’s going to not be as complex, and hopefully come together much quicker. This record came fully formed for me, with a kind of sound I wanted. The next one will be more of a band record, but defintiely under my name.
Dhani Harrison is currently on tour. His debut solo album In//Parallel is out now. Check out his site for information on the tour and his releases.
Nicholas Slayton is a journalist and writer who has contributed to the Atlantic, io9, Comics Bulletin and more. You can follow him on Twitter @NSlayton