Welcome to the feature where we talk to musicians and artists to find out in depth information about their brand new singles and music.
Today we talk to London artist Harry and The Chicks about their new bold and powerful single Snakes in The Streets” – a track that focusses on elements of the epidemic of street harassment.
Hello! Tell us about your brand new single Snakes In The Streets
Hi Phoenix Remix! My new single ‘Snakes in the Streets’ is a pop song with purpose. It’s about my experiences with street harassment in London. It has a commercial pop feel and sounds like Griff and Kim Petras.
How did the song come about?
I wrote the song with my producer, Imad Salhi. We began by listening to songs that were inspiring us at the time. I had just found Griff and was also listening to a lot of Kim Petras so they definitely influenced this track. I love 808s so that underlying bass line really drove this production.
How long did it take to write?
We spent a session on production and I put some random lyrics over the top, until I left the studio and immediately changed all of my ideas. I wrote most of the song’s lyrics and melody on the way home from the studio, and I wrote the bridge later that night. I then sent Imad a very rough voice note of my ideas and he changed parts of them to make them more catchy… and after that we were onto making it into a shiny production!
What is the main theme of the song?
Stalking and street harassment. Initially the song was about being stalked as a teenager, and the anxiety that left me with. Whilst I was writing this song, I was struggling with sleep paralysis and having nightmares about my youth… This was my way of removing that anxiety, by battling it face on. I was catcalled and harassed 14 times on my way to and from the studio the session after we had written the song, which was ironic, but it gave me the narrative for the music video and now I feel I have made a pop song with purpose. I hope I can make some kind of change. I’m collaborating with the app ‘SafeUp’ which helps women walk home safer. They have trained guardians 18+ who are nearby and you can call when you’re walking home alone. It’s something I’ve needed in the last year and I’m so happy I came across it.
What about the production process, what was the most tricky thing about recording the track?
I feel like producing this song with Imad really flowed better than any of my songs have flowed before. I don’t remember many issues with recording the track other than making sure the vocals were pristine so we spent a really long time on them, but I remember after Imad bounced the backing track just before I recorded the vocals, he said ‘wow, this is a sick production’.
How do you approach a new song in the studio?
When working with Imad, we tend to make a playlist of what we are listening to and I’ll start with a particular sound that is raising my hairs that day. I love to put an 808 in most of my music and you’ll see that pop up a lot – I love how ‘beefy’ it makes it. With my high voice over the top of a very low synth, it just brings me synaesthesic joy.
How do you feel on the release day of a new song?
Depends! Mostly nervous but excited, this release day went really well. I had a lot of fun because the day after I had a headline show and loads of people came to see me and they sang along – that’s the first time that’s happened to me in my career. It’s been amazing.
How do you think your fans are going to react to the new track?
So far the reaction has been really good. Lots of people have said it’s their favourite of the 5 I have out, and they resonate with the song’s message. At my music video launch so many people mentioned they thought it looked ‘crisp’, and had a ‘clean edit’ which brought me joy because I edited and colour graded it. People mentioned they loved specific shots, the plot, the outfits, the choreography and more… It’s so incredible to me to get such good feedback because the team was just my friends and I! If you look in the video description you’ll see there were only 9 people on the entire team including me. My friend Elena did all of my press shots and filmed this music video, so she deserves a massive thank you and congratulations for such an achievement since she had never even filmed a music video before!
Tell us about the music video? What was the inspiration?
The music video was inspired by my walk to and from the studio when I was catcalled and harassed 14 times. Last spring and summer I was being approached more than I ever have in my entire life. I based the music video on real things that have happened to me.
The plot follows my friends and I on a night out. It starts in the evening through to night, and we are having fun throughout the entire video because street harassment is so normalised that this is the truest portrayal I could put across.
The scene where I am stopped by a man on a bike happened to me in real life except I was on roller skates and the man circled around me on his bike for ages and said he wouldn’t let me go. I was unconfident on skates at the time so I couldn’t just skate around him since he was circling me and I was worried I would fall or that he would come and knock me over. I did phone the police after this happened but he was never found.
Personally, my favourite scenes are near the end of the music video when my friends and I take different directions home. The scene where my friend Yara is innocently waiting for her mum to pick her up (played by my mum), and is approached by a man who quickly runs when he sees the car coming for her, really struck me when we filmed it. In the raw footage you can hear their acting and it made me shiver. She is quite abruptly saying to Luis (one of our snakes in the streets) that she is not interested but the words do not phase him.
Was it fun to film?
It was fun to film in the end! Also stressful. I am a DIY queen. I bought the camera and my gimbal, tested it a few times, and sent the gimbal back and got another one. I practiced a lot before we filmed this but I taught Elena how to use it basically the day we filmed it! The battery life on my camera is atrocious and so was the gimbal, so it was really hard to manage and I now realise I need at least 10 fully charged batteries and chargers. Failing that, we had a whole ‘getting ready’ scene which I deleted because the lighting just wasn’t right and the place for it in the lyrics wasn’t there. I am so grateful for Willow, my choreographer and sister, who saw my ideas swarming in my head and made them make sense for our outdoor scenes. By the time we were outside it was evening, which is what I had envisioned in the first place. I had a solid lens that would deal with low light and everything just seemed to work from that point forward. The opening scenes where the sun is peeking through the trees was so beautiful even before I colour graded it.
Whilst we filmed the scenes down the alley, a man actually catcalled Yara and picked up her dress, it was bizarre and I wish we had a behind the scenes camera to show what even happens on video shoots, but sadly that wasn’t our main priority since our crew was so tiny. When we filmed the scene of Willow by the bus stop (my favourite scene), a guy on a bike tried to take the camera out of our hands, there were only three of us left shooting at that time it was chaotic! I was exhausted by the end of it but I was so happy with the clips I started watching them on the way home on the back of the camera.
I also want to say that my crew, despite how tiny it was, was really professional and when I thought it was all going wrong they stood by and said don’t worry if this doesn’t work we will try again next time, and I’m so glad they encouraged me to continue even when the equipment wasn’t working for us, because we did an amazing job in the end. It was so hard to find men that didn’t mind portraying creeps in my video, but Luis and Dan did an incredible job and I can’t thank them enough – I literally met Dan that day and he pulled it out of the bag. They’re some of the best men I’ve met my whole life so don’t let that video fool you!
What is your favourite lyric in the track?
‘It keeps me awake in my sleep / Oversharing everytime I speak’ – talking about my sleep paralysis and how I try to open up about my anxiety, but that only tends to make it worse.
For those who are new to your music, where can they find you on social media?
I’m Harry and The Chicks (@HarryandTheChicks) everywhere, except Twitter which is just @HarryTheChicks, and my website is www.harryandthechicks.com, where we also sell handmade to measure merchandise in all sizes (and some band tees), thanks to TikTok which made my handmade blouses my mum makes and I design go viral, and now we have sold our clothes internationally!
Finally three words why people should listen to your new single?
Stop Street Harassment!