Combining a classic yet truly distinctive soul voice with a love of bass and eclectic future beats, each new release from Harleighblu is a revelation. Signed to Tru Thoughts – a match made in musical heaven – Harleighblu has been likened to Erykah Badu and AlunaGeorge in the same breath; her hugely charismatic style has been championed by MistaJam, who was so taken with her 2013 debut single “Enough Now” that he crowned it his ‘Jam Hot’ single of the week, kicking off heavy and escalating support from tastemakers all over the world.
Nottingham native Harleighblu has been involved in music from a very young age, her drive and passion for creative exploration propelling her through the local scene to develop into one of the UK’s most promising young artists. Since announcing herself with the raw, beat-heavy soul of her debut LP ‘Forget Me Not’ (produced by Nottingham hip hop stalwart Joe Buhdha), she has been in national and international demand. Regular live bookings include major festivals (The Great Escape, Glastonbury, Bestival, Shambala, Boomtown, Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide and Green Man), several tours of the UK and France and support for the likes of Amp Fiddler.
With a string of irresistible singles – including “Sittin’ By The Window”, “Enough Now”, “Play Me” and “Who’s That Girl?” – Harleighblu has picked up over 50 plays at BBC 1Xtra alone, among a very wide spread of support. More than 300,000 YouTube hits add to press acclaim from Q to DJ Mag, AfroPunk and USA Today as well as airplay including Charlie Sloth, Trevor Nelson, Target, Don Letts, Nemone, Huey Morgan, John Kennedy, Mr Scruff, Harry Shearer and Craig Charles and radio sessions for XFM X-Posure, The Selector and MistaJam.
Harleighblu’s voice has proved a magnet for collaborators and remixers, and her releases have been switched up by the likes of Peshay, Astro Raw (Lionbabe), Titeknots, The Last Skeptik, Klashnekoff and Rocé (with others, including Eats Everything and Starkiller – the production outfit of C.E. Garcia and Alfredo E. Fratti from Adrian Younge’s Venice Dawn – also lining up to work with her).
Taking the next natural stylistic step, in 2015 Harleighblu has been exploring a cutting-edge electronic spin on her signature sound, with talents including Dr Zygote (Black Acre), Lost Midas, SpectraSoul and Azure at the production controls. Causing a stir across the Summer with two stunning installments in June and August, the “Futurespective” EP series unveils a sharp, forward-thinking style of soulful pop music dusted with grit and glitter in equal measure.
As this young artist has metamorphosed, via the consequences of success coupled with the twists and turns of early twenties life, so her frame of reference has shifted; in place of the more wide-eyed romantic leanings of old comes a frank, self-possessed voice that pulls no punches and makes no apologies. “My music reflects what is exciting me, and right now I’m more focused on the future than the past – not only sonically, but in life. Pretty much everything in my life has changed”, says Harleighblu in 2015; “I’ve got a feeling of freedom, I’m getting tangled up in different experiences. And all of a sudden these totally different songs are pouring out.”
Harleighblu has always pushed forwards. She kindled her interest in music as a child, surrounded by her Mum’s record collection – a treasure trove of the best soul and rare grooves. She started songwriting aged just seven at a community recording studio, began performing with impromptu shows during school break times, and used the winnings from local talent competitions to kit herself out with musical equipment. Having been working with producers from the age of 12, the next major development came when Harleighblu met Birmingham based Dino Nisbett and his co-producer Andre Bassing. They introduced the teenaged singer to Dennis Seaton of the Grammy nominated Musical Youth, not only giving her the chance to provide backing vocals for the reunited band, but also the launchpad to put together her own live band and start performing the local circuit. Thanks to these performances, and early support from BBC Introducing and legendary rapper Rodney P, the buzz around Harleighblu came to the attention of Tru Thoughts A&R Robert Luis, who tellingly likens this discovery to the way he felt on first signing flagship label acts Alice Russell, Quantic and Bonobo.
Look out for Harleighblu as she continues to forge ahead with the “Futurespective” EPs and live gigs throughout 2015.
“There’s something very, very fresh about this!” – MISTAJAM (BBC R1/1XTRA)
“A lot of people are asking about Harleighblu… I like that!” – TREVOR NELSON (BBC 1XTRA)
“A raw talent… with a voice that pours soul in unfeigned torrents… a polished yet stirring debut” – 8/10 – CLASH
“Immediately impresses… a talent to watch” – Q | “Great” – 8.5/10 – DJ MAG | “Just fantastic” – JOHN KENNEDY (XFM)