Ep08: Katie Harkin on how music makes the world feel porous

Ep08: Katie Harkin on how music makes the world feel porous

Ahoy podcast adventurer, and welcome to my conversation with Katie Harkin, recorded on Friday 3rd April 2020. Read on for links to everything we discussed in this episode and make sure you check out her new self-titled album “Harkin”. Thank you for listening!

[Content warning: one mild swear.]

In this conversation, we discuss:

  • from Sky Larkin to Harkin – how making your own music, forging connections and being proactive brings unexpected rewards
  • how a life filled with music makes the world feel porous
  • making noises for a living – musical problem solving for artists including Sleater-Kinney, Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile
  • charting an artistic career through the rise and fall of different tech companies
  • how fostering a DIY ethic has been useful for long term survival
  • the new landscape of live music – how mainstream artists could help protect an income source for the wider community by leading a culture of paid-for streamed content

The three links Katie invites you to check out are:

1. “Nothing The Night Can’t Change” – Harkin


2. Courtney Barnett and Kurt Vile – Sea Lice by the Seaside (live session)


3. “My Backwards Walk” – Harkin & Sarah Silverman cover Frightened Rabbit. You can support mental health charity Tiny Changes here.


Follow the “Attention Engineer” playlist here.


Katie recommends:

“This Is How You Smile” by Helada Negro, “Mutazione (Original Game Soundtrack) by Alessandro Coronas and “Heaven To A Tortured Mind” by Yves Tumor.

Other things we mentioned:

In the intro I mentioned the Kanban method of organisation, using Trello and binging on Thomas Frank‘s productivity videos on YouTube.

Katie talks about the plague village of Eyam – such an interesting story.

She mentions being on tour with Torres as news of Coronavirus was unfolding. Listen to Torres here.

I can’t find the quote online about not overusing the word awesome (because what will we say when the aliens come?) – so if YOU can shed any light on that one, I’d be grateful! Answers in the comments please.

There’s a heartfelt shoutout to Brudenell Social Club in Leeds (one of my favourite venues too), PLUS the wonderful bunch of humans Hope And Social. They’ve released many brilliant albums, and here’s the Madonna cover I did with them a few years ago.

Katie talks about playing with Bright Light Bright Light and I mention seeing him open for Nerina Pallot a while back in London. It was a wonderful show.

Katie talks about supporting Broken Social Scene at The Leadmill in Sheffield and finding different ways to be inspired by other musicians.

I talk about talking to author Nikesh Shukla for next week’s episode, and I also mention a book called “Becoming A Writer” by Dorothea Brande.

Katie mentions launching a Patreon for Hand Mirror. Check that out here.


About Harkin

Harkin has been touring since her teens and is one of the most prolific collaborators of her generation. Now, a lifelong collaborator steps into the singular.

In addition to her own band she formed as a teen (Sky Larkin), she has been a touring member of Sleater-Kinney, Wild Beasts, Flock of Dimes, and Kurt Vile and Courtney Barnett, plus she performed backing vocals for Dua Lipa on Saturday Night Live.

Harkin also dueted with comedian Sarah Silverman on ‘Tiny Changes: A Celebration of Frightened Rabbit’s The Midnight Organ Fight”.

Her studio work includes contributions to Waxahatchee’s ‘Out In The Storm’, and outside of the music world, Harkin has composed for Turner Prize-winning artist Helen Marten and British comedian Josie Long. She even has a Saturday Night Live sketch named after her (Fred Armisen’s 2016 ‘Harkin Brothers Band’).

‘Harkin’ is released on Hand Mirror, with publishing support from Rough Trade Publishing. Harkin and her partner, the poet and live arts organiser Kate Leah Hewett, founded Hand Mirror in 2019.

This podcast is supported by Arts Council England and The National Lottery and powered by my Correspondent’s Club.

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Have a lovely day xo

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