Harry Teardrop Interview

Sept. 17, 2019

You're going to want to listen to his songs over and over again once you press play. Harrison Li goes by the name of Harry Teardrop on the stage and he absolutely crushes it. Parts of his life gathers to form his career, from learning to play the guitar with his older brother to enrolling at New York University to study music production. Not only is he a very cool musician, he’s also a very kind human. Passion and love of music poured out of his earnest and honest words and expressions as I had the fortunate opportunity to speak with him about his craft and his life up to this point. Read on for more about Harry Teardrop!

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got to where you are today?

Harry Teardrop: I started playing drums when I was five and then my brother, Drake, taught me guitar when I was growing up. And then, I was writing songs when I was like 13, maybe. That’s when I started writing songs. And then in high school, I think I was 16 or 17, I started learning how to produce on my computer. And then, I was looking at colleges and I saw that there was this program at NYU that did production stuff and music industry stuff so I was like, “Oh, that seems cool, if I’m gonna go to college, I might as well do something I’m actually interested in.” I applied for that, and then I got in and I moved to New York to go to school at NYU, and I actually learned how to produce and stuff, and just met a lot of cool people here.

LP: I mean, I always go to New York, but I’ve never actually seen the area around NYU. Is it cool?

Harry Teardrop: Yeah, it’s really cool! It’s mostly centered around Washington Square Park and the village, so kind of downtown, it’s pretty nice, no complaints really.

Q: What are your greatest influences people can hear in your music?

Harry Teardrop: In terms of artists, you mean?

LP: Yeah.

Harry Teardrop: I think just to name a couple: The Strokes, The Cure, I would say are pretty influential. Yeah Yeah Yeahs - I was a big fan of. Also, K-Pop too, I think, and in terms of my older sound, I would say the Beach Boys and just surf rock, kind of. That’s a pretty decent list. I’m definitely forgetting some, but there’s just too many to name.

Q: How would you describe your music to someone who hasn't listened to it before?

Harry Teardrop: I’m not really good at that, I never really know how to describe it honestly…Yeah, I try not to like describe it myself because I don’t want to stick to a certain genre because I’m still experimenting and I don’t think I’ve really found my sound yet. So yeah, definitely just have been playing around with different things. The main core, I would say, is just trying to take guitar music, stuff that I grew up with and learned how to make my own thing of it. That’s definitely the goal.

Q: Can you tell me about your upbringing that influenced your song “1000 Backyard Pools?”

Harry Teardrop: That song was about my high school experience. I went to HS in Orange County, California and I specifically went to this school in this city called Irvine and it’s very competitive, very academic, and kids started studying for the SAT in 7th grade and it’s crazy. That was the environment I was in and I knew that I didn’t really fit into that but also like I had just moved there so I was trying to, you know, also assimilate. It was just that feeling of being an outsider and being ridiculed for something you believe in, feeling of being different, and trying to come to terms with that and I really wanted to relate to other kids feeling the same way and let them know.

Q: What is your personal favorite off your EP, “1000 Backyard Pools?”

Harry Teardrop: I go through phases, but I think my favorite is probably “Soft Serve.”

LP: Same!

Harry Teardrop: Really? Nice.

Q: To me, your songs from your EP are very reminiscent of early 2000s bands. Did you draw any inspiration from any bands from that era?

Harry Teardrop: Yeah. For “Soft Serve,” I was using “Feeling This” from Blink 182 as a reference for guitar and well the thing is I just grew up on this band so it’s just more of a natural influence. I was really into Avril Lavigne, Sum 41, Green Day obviously. I think that’s more of like a coincidence.

Q: What have you taken from your time in New York that you've put into your music?

Harry Teardrop: It’s hard to tell, really. I started taking music more seriously when I went, so I think I just naturally just started to experiment more of my sound and stuff. I think it’s definitely make my music faster, I would say, and more intense. New York is such a crazy place, and so many different artists and different ideas that it’s kind of just like a boiling pot for culture, it’s just like definitely made me want to experiment more and just draw inspiration from all these different forms of art that I’m inspired by.

Q: What is your song-writing process like?

Harry Teardrop: It kind of varies. Sometimes I’ll write a song just on my guitar, that’s how I came about with “Dry.” I wrote that song in half an hour just on my guitar. Whereas most of the time now I’ll produce something, like an instrumental, and then I’ll try to write lyrics over that. It’s definitely easier for me to just write to guitar because that’s what I’m used to and what I grew up doing, but lately I’ve been getting more into production, so I’ll start with producing something on Ableton and just make a loop and then I'll just listen to it and try to write lyrics over that.

Q: Speaking of production, how do you produce your own songs? I know everyone says “I produce my own songs”—this is more of a personal question, not just for the interview—but how does one actually produce songs?

Harry Teardrop: That’s a really good question. There’s different programs/computer software. I started using GarageBand when I was first getting started and that’s something. It’s basically you have different tracks that you layer on top of each other and so I was just playing around and adding the stock computer sounds and recording my guitar into my computer, and I had a really shitty microphone that I was actually using all the way up until a couple of months ago. I was just using that to sync stuff and then layering that on top. That’s producing, I guess. Lately, I’ve been trying to experiment more with using samples and stuff. I tried to use guitar a lot, ‘cause guitar is one of those instruments that when you hear it, usually you can tell it’s guitar. But I’m really into guitar sounds that sound really weird and just like distorted and messed with, so I try to use guitar and record it to see how much I can manipulate it into something else. For “Soft Serve,” there’s synth stuff going on in the chorus that’s actually guitar. It sounds really weird.

Q: Has your family shaped your life and your music?

Harry Teardrop: The biggest one is my brother. He’s a visual artist, but he also does music. He plays guitar and so he was probably the biggest influence on me growing up, he would show me all the bands he was into. My mom was a violin player when she was young, and she was always musical so she passed that along to us at a pretty young age. My brother and I took violin lessons for a couple weeks when we were really young, but it just wasn’t for us. There’s one specific memory that I have where we were in the car listening to music, and she just saw us in the rearview mirror and pulled over to a music store and signed up for lessons and that kinda started everything, so yeah definitely! My dad also teaches me a lot about business, because he’s a businessman. My parents are super supportive so it’s been really, I’ve been super fortunate. Especially with Asian parents, it’s really rare to have support with arts, so it’s super cool.

Q: Who is someone you’d love to collaborate with in the future?

Harry Teardrop: So many people, I’d love to collaborate with Grimes, that’d be sick. BTS, yeah, something something super out of reach, that’d be crazy. Like Avril Lavigne or something.

Q: What goals do you have for the rest of college?

Harry Teardrop: Just to graduate is the biggest goal, honestly. Especially while doing music at the same time, it’s definitely a lot. I mean it helps that I’m studying music too, but still doing the Harry Teardrop stuff on top of schoolwork is kind of overwhelming, but at this point, I feel like I have to finish, otherwise I don’t want to waste my parents’ time and money and stuff.

Q: What gigs can fans expect in the months to come?

Harry Teardrop: Right now, the only ones I have planned so far are I have a show next Friday [8/23/19] at Baby’s All Right and then there’s a rooftop show the day before. I actually don’t plan my shows that far ahead in advance, which is something I would want to do. I really want to go on tour at some point, it’s just about getting reached out to do it, honestly. I haven’t gotten any offers yet, so when that comes and if it’s an artist that I think is cool, then that would be awesome. I really wanna go because there are kids who comment on my posts, they’re like “come to Texas” or “come to Singapore” and it’s I wish I could, that’d be so sick.

Q: Will you be releasing any music in the future?

Harry Teardrop: Yes, I’ve been working on so much music lately. Even before I put out 1000 Backyard Pools, I had enough songs to do a second EP—originally the plan was to do three EPs—but when I got time to focus on the first one, I was spending so much time just getting it to where it needed to be that I was like, “Okay, three EPs is way too much to focus on, I’m just going to take it one EP at a time.” So now, I’m trying to focus on the second one and I have eight or nine different demos that I would be happy to put on it, so it’s just about figuring out which ones. But hopefully that will come early-to-mid 2020. With [my EP] “1000 Backyard Pools,” I rushed it a little bit, because when I put out the first single, [“1000 Backyard Pools], I wasn’t done with the whole EP yet, and usually you’re supposed to finish the whole project and then start releasing it. That’s how I’m going to do it for the second one, I’m just going to finish the whole thing and then be able to release it.

Q: Is there anything you want to say to any fans who will see this interview?

Harry Teardrop: First of all, thank you so much for supporting me, that’s so crazy, still. When I first put out Chinatown, I wasn’t expecting anything and now it’s super dope that people actually care about what I’m doing. Also feel free to reach out, I respond to all my DMs, at least I try to. If you have any questions or anything, or anything you wanna talk to somebody about, I’m always here.

Thank you Harry for the most amazing interview and the opportunity to share your time! Thanks for being one of the coolest people I’ve had the chance to interview.

Thank you to Harry’s brother, Drake, for the photos taken!

Thank you to my wonderful friend, Rachel Su, for transcribing this interview for me!

Follow Harry Teardrop on Instagram and Twitter: @harryteardrop

Follow Drake Li on Instagram: @drakehli

Follow me on Instagram: @xlarapena and @lastwordslara

See you guys next time for another post!