Harkin

Musician — Leeds / New York

Name, where are you from?
Harkin, Leeds UK / Upstate NY.

Describe your style in three words?
British, queer, lived-in.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
When my old band Sky Larkin was on tour with Broken Social Scene, I met my wife-to-be as she was the promoter for the Sheffield show, so I suppose it has to be that one! The gig itself was great too.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
Sleater Kinney and one of David Axelrod’s productions.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
Nightlife is undoubtedly a huge part of many subcultures, but I’m also inspired by the revolutionary work women and queer synth pioneers completed in other spaces. Laboratories and institutions like IBM, Bell and the BBC provided places for experimentation when the nightclub musician’s circuit was/is hostile to women and queer people.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Someone living as a queer person in an earlier age, we’ve been so erased from history it would be such a gift to be able to record one of the many lost stories.

Of all the venues you’ve been to, which is your favourite?
Watching bands like Quack Quack play at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds as a teen was so formative, it's grown so much over the years but it’s still my favourite place to watch a show.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
They're hardly unsung, but Low are an immaculate band and I've had the pleasure of introducing a few friends to their music and luckily for us all there's so much of it to love. I opened for them and played in their Christmas band for a tour and it was such an honour and a treat.


Harkin (Katie Harkin) is known as one of the founder members of Sky Larkin and has also played with Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, Wild Beasts and the legendary Sleater-Kinney. Katie has also soundtracked projects for other creators, as diverse as Turner Prize winner Helen Martin and comedian Josie Long. More recently she has founded Hand Mirror with writer Kate Leah Hewitt, a creative community aiming to promote collaborations in the form of music, writing, spoken word and beyond. Hand Mirror's first release will be Harkin's self-titled debut solo album. 

The first track you played on repeat?
'Creep' by TLC was side one track one on a tape that came free with Smash Hits Magazine, so it was perfect for listening and rewinding and re-listening ad infinitum. I remember that Mum got fed up of it eventually.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Helitrope' by At The Drive In. I found an XL shirt with this album cover on it in a goth shop near the Corn Exchange in Leeds as a teen, I cut it out and my Nana helped me sew it on a shirt that fit me. They broke up before I could see them (though I later saw them reunite at Coachella) so I’d leave live video bootlegs of theirs downloading overnight on dial-up and wake up heartbroken if they’d failed. So this takes me back to my teenage bedroom.

One record you would keep forever?
'Harlem' by Bill Withers. There’s a Bill Withers song for every emotion. There’s not many songwriters with a range like that. He’s a huge inspiration. The arrangement of this song takes gives me chills every time. Someone started a Bill Withers Insta that I’m pretty sure is a bot, but I still sent it an incredibly sincere DM of thanks on the minuscule chance he might actually read it.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'I Can't Give Everything Away' by David Bowie.
'Complete Control' by Big Boys.
'Casket Pretty' by Noname.

A song you wished you had written?
'Mrs Morris' by Charles Spearin. This is such a wonderful concept for an album, which is evident upon listening and I won’t spoil for you!

Best song to turn up loud?
'Hammond Song' by Roches. Maybe this seems to be an unlikely turn up tune, but Jenn Wasner introduced me to this on the Flock of Dimes van tour and it’s become a road trip staple. Get in the car, turn this up loud and try and fail to hit those OHKAYYYS (only they can).

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'Waiting for Tonight' by Jennifer Lopez. My girlfriend and I had an engagement party where 50 of us descended on an empty bar, this came on and then there was a lot of my favourite people writhing on a pool table. It was a magical night and it's a magic song.

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'Walk On By' by Dionne Warwick. This is very handy to have to hand when DJing a night that’s dragged on too late with the wrong crowd. As well as being a perfect song, when deployed in tandem with the bar staff turning the lights on it sends a firm but fair message. Fuck off please we all want to go home.

Any new music you are into at the moment?
'Flowers To My Demons' by Nnamdi.
'Where’s There’s Smoke' by DonChristian.
'Noise' by Zsela.
'Green' by KAINA.
'Dragging the Lake' by Podcasts.
'Bang' by Aaron Roche.
'Inner Reaches' by Gong Gong Gong.
'Flood' by Vagabon.

Name, where are you from?
Harkin, Leeds UK / Upstate NY.

Describe your style in three words?
British, queer, lived-in.

What’s the best gig you’ve ever been to?
When my old band Sky Larkin was on tour with Broken Social Scene, I met my wife-to-be as she was the promoter for the Sheffield show, so I suppose it has to be that one! The gig itself was great too.

If you could be on the line up with any two bands in history?
Sleater Kinney and one of David Axelrod’s productions.

Which Subcultures have influenced you?
Nightlife is undoubtedly a huge part of many subcultures, but I’m also inspired by the revolutionary work women and queer synth pioneers completed in other spaces. Laboratories and institutions like IBM, Bell and the BBC provided places for experimentation when the nightclub musician’s circuit was/is hostile to women and queer people.

If you could spend an hour with anyone from history?
Someone living as a queer person in an earlier age, we’ve been so erased from history it would be such a gift to be able to record one of the many lost stories.

Of all the venues you’ve been to, which is your favourite?
Watching bands like Quack Quack play at the Brudenell Social Club in Leeds as a teen was so formative, it's grown so much over the years but it’s still my favourite place to watch a show.

Your greatest unsung hero or heroine in music?
They're hardly unsung, but Low are an immaculate band and I've had the pleasure of introducing a few friends to their music and luckily for us all there's so much of it to love. I opened for them and played in their Christmas band for a tour and it was such an honour and a treat.


Harkin (Katie Harkin) is known as one of the founder members of Sky Larkin and has also played with Kurt Vile, Courtney Barnett, Wild Beasts and the legendary Sleater-Kinney. Katie has also soundtracked projects for other creators, as diverse as Turner Prize winner Helen Martin and comedian Josie Long. More recently she has founded Hand Mirror with writer Kate Leah Hewitt, a creative community aiming to promote collaborations in the form of music, writing, spoken word and beyond. Hand Mirror's first release will be Harkin's self-titled debut solo album. 

The first track you played on repeat?
'Creep' by TLC was side one track one on a tape that came free with Smash Hits Magazine, so it was perfect for listening and rewinding and re-listening ad infinitum. I remember that Mum got fed up of it eventually.

A song that defines the teenage you?
'Helitrope' by At The Drive In. I found an XL shirt with this album cover on it in a goth shop near the Corn Exchange in Leeds as a teen, I cut it out and my Nana helped me sew it on a shirt that fit me. They broke up before I could see them (though I later saw them reunite at Coachella) so I’d leave live video bootlegs of theirs downloading overnight on dial-up and wake up heartbroken if they’d failed. So this takes me back to my teenage bedroom.

One record you would keep forever?
'Harlem' by Bill Withers. There’s a Bill Withers song for every emotion. There’s not many songwriters with a range like that. He’s a huge inspiration. The arrangement of this song takes gives me chills every time. Someone started a Bill Withers Insta that I’m pretty sure is a bot, but I still sent it an incredibly sincere DM of thanks on the minuscule chance he might actually read it.

A song lyric that has inspired you?
'I Can't Give Everything Away' by David Bowie.
'Complete Control' by Big Boys.
'Casket Pretty' by Noname.

A song you wished you had written?
'Mrs Morris' by Charles Spearin. This is such a wonderful concept for an album, which is evident upon listening and I won’t spoil for you!

Best song to turn up loud?
'Hammond Song' by Roches. Maybe this seems to be an unlikely turn up tune, but Jenn Wasner introduced me to this on the Flock of Dimes van tour and it’s become a road trip staple. Get in the car, turn this up loud and try and fail to hit those OHKAYYYS (only they can).

The song to get you straight on the dance floor?
'Waiting for Tonight' by Jennifer Lopez. My girlfriend and I had an engagement party where 50 of us descended on an empty bar, this came on and then there was a lot of my favourite people writhing on a pool table. It was a magical night and it's a magic song.

Best song to end an all-nighter?
'Walk On By' by Dionne Warwick. This is very handy to have to hand when DJing a night that’s dragged on too late with the wrong crowd. As well as being a perfect song, when deployed in tandem with the bar staff turning the lights on it sends a firm but fair message. Fuck off please we all want to go home.

Any new music you are into at the moment?
'Flowers To My Demons' by Nnamdi.
'Where’s There’s Smoke' by DonChristian.
'Noise' by Zsela.
'Green' by KAINA.
'Dragging the Lake' by Podcasts.
'Bang' by Aaron Roche.
'Inner Reaches' by Gong Gong Gong.
'Flood' by Vagabon.

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