"Being 22 right now, anything I do or make is going to shift my understanding of self and identity."
Nat Harvie's Broken Record (N.H.B.R.) is at first a love letter, and then a question. Lyrically, the record follows the development of their relationship with their current partner and the emotional complexity experienced by two people developing mutual intimacy. But N.H.B.R. also asks the listener to consider how our understanding of the world and of others is shaped by our own perceptions and cognition. This album asks, "How do we not ask for proof; how do we bear witness?"
Nat shared a few of their thoughts about developing a deeper understanding of their identity through the act of creation, what queerness means within that creation, and how a piece of art can reflect who it's creator is at a specific moment in time.
How is this album a reflection of who you are in the world right now?
One common thread that a lot of these songs touch is the idea of learning to feel powerful and brave and beautiful through my external relationships as opposed to some closed-off, internal conception of self. I think it’s a hopeful record. I think it reflects the hope that I feel for my self/closest friends and lovers/communities right now but have not always felt.
Have you felt a shift in your understanding of yourself/your identity while working on this record? If so, how?
Maybe- I made this record for my boyfriend, but in a lot of ways I’m also kind of writing to my 13 year old self, trying (and sometimes failing) to articulate that there are other ways to exist and interact and love that I won’t understand for a really long time and still don’t fully. It’s a hard question to answer though because I’m so young. Being 22 right now, anything I do or make is going to shift my understanding of self and identity.
What was it like to crowdfound this project?
It was humbling. I’m really wary of assigning a dollar amount to community support, especially because some of the most important help I received was in the form of advice and emotional encouragement from folks that couldn’t really afford to contribute ca$h. That being said, we did about $1500 USD in pre-orders and without that money, there’s no way we could’ve pressed vinyl.
Why was it important to you to work with other queer artists on this record?
More than anything, it was a consequence of who I was already spending all my time and collaborating with. When I recorded my debut EP, Snow is a Gift to my Fear, the process was carried out entirely by queer folks, like literally every single aspect. That decision had very little to do with exclusion or safety or even creating space. I did it like that because I wanted to prove to myself that I didn’t need help from cis/straight people to tell my own (queer) stories. I’m immensely proud of that EP but I don’t need to make it again. There were a good handful of cis and straight people that contributed session work to N.H.B.R. and I don’t feel any particular way about that. The core members of my projects (especially my live project, Nat Harvie Trio) are all queer, all femme folks; that has more to do with my own comfort and vulnerability than the politics of representation because at the end of the day, this is my solo project and I feel queer enough.
What does the word queer mean to you?
Nothing on it’s own. I use that word to refer to a VERY WIDE category of experience, that is people who fall outside of hegemonic sexuality and gender norms. I hesitate to associate queerness with any sort of musical aesthetic or to define my work as an example of what queer IS. If my work is queer because I am, then so it is white, then so it is settler, then it is able-bodied, then so it is upper middle-class. I don’t want people to conflate those experiences. That being said, queer people from all different walks of life KNOW the experience of interacting with a piece of media that for the first time represents or resonates with their experiences. That is powerful- that is fucking magic and that is what I want to do. Again, this record is a love letter to my boyfriend more than anything, but what could I have learned at 13 about how to exist in the joy and tragedy of being a queer person through my future words to my beautiful, wild, human boyfriend?