The writer Grafton Tanner argues that as the culture industry voraciously strip-mines ideas from the past, musicians respond by creating even weirder versions of earlier styles. Artists wildly mix genres and musical eras, expressing the social dislocation of living in a society where the line between the real and the online seems to grow hazier by the day. But this post-genre approach can also result in beautiful and uplifting work. Frank Ocean’s Blonde pushed soul music to new heights of sublime abstraction. The mysterious Jai Paul made instant pop classics that sound like they were sung by ghosts. UK artist Haich is the latest young visionary aiming to transform our idea of what a singer is in 2018.
Haich AKA Harrison Bernard describes himself as a producer and “still transitioning” vocalist. Originally from the UK, he began his artistic career making hip hop and grime, under his previous stage name That Boy Slim. But something was missing in those aggressive sounds – “When I started making that kind of music, it felt like I couldn’t get the sound to feel authentic. It would feel like an underwhelming copy”. But in opening himself up to new influences something clicked “After getting older and widening my taste, it seems obvious now, but I realised we can do whatever we want. The most avant-garde artists are doing whatever they want, no genre or mood attached. They are paving their own sonic lane- I’d rather try and do that”.
Two years of hard work produced his debut EP Unbalanced, which dropped last year. A dreamy genre mix, it sounds like James Blake submerged in a downpour of experimental electronics. This week, Haich is putting out the new song ‘Peak’. As with all his work, it’s inspired by the complexities of everyday human interaction in this wild century. “Unbalanced was pretty much all about growth and becoming an adult. ‘Peak’ is more like a distorted love story. I’m inspired by accidents, mistakes, imperfections. I’m trying to make those so- called negative things shine”.