We recently had the chance to chat with Adelaide locals Conor Barkway and Jack Degenhart, who together, form the fast-rising music duo Hartway (which I only just realised was a fusion of their last names, genius!) ahead of their appearance at WOMADelaide 2018. We talked about their origins, influences, future plans and what we can expect at this year's WOMAD!
How did Hartway come together as a group?
Jack: Conor and I first met in high school, where we played in a number of jazz bands and orchestral ensembles throughout our time there, so naturally we became pretty close mates. Our first show together out of school was actually for a corporate event, where we played as a DJ and saxophone duo. We were both studying music at uni at the time. After Conor had me feature on an ODESZA remix that he was working on, it felt like a great opportunity to start writing our own original music together!
You guys have a unique sound, fusing dance music with jazzy horns - what would you categorise your sound as and how did you come to develop this sound?
Conor: I feel like our debut EP ‘Motions’ really reflected where we artistically last year. There’s definitely a consistent vibe throughout, however we took the opportunity to explore some different flavours while we were finding our sound. From a genre perspective, I’d say we fall somewhere between Nu Disco, Acid Jazz, House, and Future Soul. Basically, we’re just trying to produce groove-based electronic music with some genuine soul - music that you can either dance to, or have a drink and chill out to... ideally over a sunset.
What music genres/artists do you think have the biggest influence on your group's music?
Jack: Our biggest influences toward our sound currently would have to be FKJ, Touch Sensitive and Luke Million. We draw inspiration from everywhere though! Conor’s knowledge of electronic music and my own experience playing jazz play a strong part in a lot of the music we write.
Hartway have become known for remixes of famous theme songs, such as Star Wars and Mario Bros. Do you plan to continue making these mixes?
Conor: Haha, possibly! They’re always a bit of fun, but that’s it really. If inspiration strikes, then maybe we’ll make something happen. I think we whipped up the Star Wars remix and video in two days total to celebrate the latest film. Over 60 thousand views later, it probably wouldn’t hurt to make another!
You guys have had some awesome support opportunities such as Touch Sensitive and KLP. Are there any artists that you dream of supporting one day?
Jack: I have to admit, if you’d had asked us two months ago, then we’d have definitely said Touch Sensitive! That was the dream support slot for us. There are SO many other artists we’d love to play with though. Like FKJ or Flight Facilities - supporting those guys would be pretty special.
Hartway had the second most played song on Fresh 92.7 in 2017, charted 3 times on Fresh’s Top 92 of 2017 Countdown and were the highest ranking SA artist on there. What did this mean to you?
Conor: That was such an incredible day! ‘Beyond’ landing at #4 was totally unexpected, and the perfect way to start 2018. It meant so much to us. Huge love to everyone who voted, and shoutouts to the legends at Fresh 92.7.
2017 was a huge year for Hartway with the release of your single “Beyond” and further your debut EP “Motions” - what do you have planned for 2018 in terms of releasing more tunes?
Jack: We were completely blown away with the response we got all round last year, and we’re hoping 2018 will be another big one. We’ve got a couple of tunes in the pipeline, most recently collaborating with a feature vocalist that we’re really excited about. I definitely think it’s our best track yet. Stay tuned...
Your group was nominated to play Adelaide’s annual NYE party...are there any events/venues you’d one day like to play at?
Conor: A huge inspiration for us before Hartway came about was seeing Touch Sensitive live at Beyond the Valley 2015, which absolutely blew us away. On the drive back to Adelaide we spoke about how amazing it would be to play our own music at a festival like that. So yeah, if we ever got the opportunity to play at Beyond the Valley, I suppose that would be pretty poetic.
This is your first world music festival spot. What do you have planned for your show and what do you hope to get out of playing at WOMAD?
Jack: We’ll be joined by some of Adelaide’s funkiest musos on the night, with Josh Chenoweth on trumpet, and Aaron Deanshaw on trombone. The amazing LACIA (aka Lesley Williams) will be featuring on stage, as well as the secret vocalist from our recent collaboration. This will be our first time playing with a live visualist too, with Rhys Newling joining us all the way from Melbourne. We’re so excited for the show! The ultimate for us would be to have everyone in the crowd dancing by the end of the set!
As Adelaide locals, I assume you have attended at some point or another.
What do you think makes WOMAD a unique festival compared to others and what do you think draws people to it so much?
Conor: We’re seriously lucky to have such an amazing festival here in Adelaide. Personally, I love how you can find so many different art forms and cultures together in the one single place. There's always such a positive vibe floating in the air, and it can honestly be magical at times.
Are there any artists you are excited to see at WOMAD yourselves?
Jack: We’re super excited to see Thundercat, Kamasi Washington, Baker Boy, Nai Palm, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble and so many others!
Hartway will be playing at WOMADelaide 2018 on the Monday night (12th of March) at 9:20pm on the Speakers' Corner Stage (aka Electrolounge). Get along to see them as this is a one show only stint.