Harry the Nightgown is the creative partnership of Sami Perez and Spencer Hartling. Their music combines earworm pop melodies, jagged drum machine rhythms, and the occasional embrace of randomness. With both members originally working as audio engineers in the Bay Area, Harry the Nightgown formed at the legendary Tiny Telephone recording studio where Perez and Hartling would indulge in their studio experimentation curiosities during downtime. These experiments soon became the fully-fledged songs that comprise their debut album, 2020’s self-titled Harry the Nightgown LP on Topshelf Records. The duo now resides in Los Angeles, where they engineer and produce out of their own studio, Wiggle World. This year, they are following up their full-length with two singles for Dangerbird’s Microdose series.
“If You Were Wrong” sets the tone for the duo’s new sound, in which an earnest lovelorn duet somehow blends seamlessly with a technicolor synthscape. Created during the uncertain early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the songs lyrics deal with the duo’s tenuous romantic relationship. Hartling discusses the meaning, stating, “There’s something funny about tracking your ex-partner when they’re singing something that they’ve really been meaning to tell you… I think the song itself sounds kind of romantic but it’s pretty brutal lyrically.” Perez and Hartling’s dueling vocals weave around each other during the infectious refrain “There’s guilt in your mind, but there’s only you in mine.
The song was initially demoed at Spencer’s old apartment in Historic Filipinotown on his four-track as dueling bass lines and a repetitive vocal melody. At the studio we expanded the song, adding new sections and melodies. The hardest part was when we decided to redo the drum machine throughout the entire track. Since it was done on tape, we had to program the pattern we wanted, and then just punch in at the right moment until it felt locked in for the entire section. That was very stressful but I’m so glad we did it. I remember actually referencing ‘I Got Depression’ by Zack Fox for some of the drum programming on this one…”
Their follow-up single “The Painter” enters stranger territory, leaning into a heavily distorted breakbeat that contrasts pleasingly with a patchwork of delicately fingerpicked guitar arpeggios and ethereal vocal layers. The lyrics of the song tell the story of a love affair between artists that was designed to be forgotten. It comes to a close with a wordless medley of disintegrating vocal loops.
Photo Courtesy: Shay Myerson