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Interview: We Sit Down With Indie Rocker Harry Lee Dobson

September 30, 2017

Music | by Courtney Blackman


Harry Lee Dobson has been teasing us with acoustic indie ballads on Instagram for months now. We’ve finally pinned down the Bristol-based singer songwriter to find out when his solo EP is going to drop.

The self-described indie rocker with a penchant for skin-tight jeans, girls and penning a song whilst under the influence also tells us about his new band KOKO and walks a through a day in the life of the recording studio.

Candid Magazine Harry Lee Dobson
Harry Lee Dobson, photographed by Kieran Gallop

Hi, thanks for talking with Candid. Do you go by Harry or Harry Lee?

You can call me Harry.

How long have you been making music and how did you get started?

It started back in the last year of school really; just used to bunk off lessons with my mates, grab a guitar and start jamming. [I] got into a few bands throughout college playing guitar, bass and singing and [it] was a good laugh writing and gigging.

From there on, I knew that was what I wanted to do seriously. Plus girls love it [laughs]!

Candid Magazine Harry Lee Dobson
Harry Lee Dobson, photographed by Kieran Gallop

What did you listen to growing up?

I started out with the usual, typical indie bands at the time like The Kooks, Artic Monkeys, Pigeon Detectives, Razorlight and so on.

It gave me an idea of what style I wanted to become and show my personality through my music. All [are] still massive influences and I’m sure you’ll be able to hear that within my songs

How would you define your sound?

It started out indie pop, but as I’ve grown up, I’ve been listening to a lot more different bands and just music in general, and it’s got more indie rock and I’m fucking loving it.

Who’s in your new band KOKO?

In the new band, it’s going to be me, my pal Ollie Garland, who I met a few years back at events and gigs. [We] just gelled the minute we met, got pissed and have been having a laugh together since then, plus he lives near me in Bristol so it’s been sound; and Danny Clark, who I’ve known a couple months now from back recording Ollie’s old music in London. He’s an absolute geezer, down to earth and sick on guitar.

And [there will be] one more who we can’t name right now, but you’ll know soon enough.

Candid Magazine Harry Lee Dobson
KOKO, photographed by Kieran Gallop

Why KOKO? Is it an homage to the venue?

[Laughs] I knew this was going to come up. Yeah, the venue is sick and we’ve been there a few times, but to be honest, the name had been brought up in conversation with previous bands before but just didn’t feel right for what we were going for at the time. Now, starting this new band with the lads, it just felt right to call ourselves that in the way we want to come across visually and musically, if you get me?

Who does the writing?

Well, I write a lot on my own about past relationships, current relationships and anything that happens when I’m pissed really [laughs], usually to do with girls.

I’ve got a lot in my head from my past, so it is so good to let it out through my music. In KOKO, me and Ollie are writing as were both on the same wave length and know what direction we want to go in.

Candid Magazine Harry Lee Dobson
Harry Lee Dobson, photographed by Kieran Gallop

What makes Bristol a music hub and is that why you moved there?

At the time I was in another band, but we all took different paths and I just decided to leave. It felt right at the time and I believe everything happens for a reason, which Is why taking time out to record my own music and get across what type of artist I want to become has worked so well. After that, the band just fell in to place and I’m loving every minute of it.

What’s a typical studio day like?

Early start, stop and get beers, fags, food, then game on. Long days, but it’s the best part about music, watching it develop – loads of ideas flowing and hearing a song that started off as acoustic come to life is so sick! I like having red wine when I’m there. To be fair it helps me sing better. I swear by it; either that, or I’m just half cut. Then afterwards depending on where we are, we head out.

We met you over London Fashion Week Men’s – in fact you came along to the Candid Magazine Issue 15 launch party hosted by our cover star, Danny Jones and we saw you at the FashionWorked Awards. Talk us through your style.

I was literally was staying at my manager’s house at the time and only had a black shirt and some jeggings, so had to borrow her son’s grey waist coat because I didn’t know how smart everyone was going to be [laughs]. It’s safe to say I pulled it off and you guys sure know how to through a party!

Thanks, Harry. What’s your number one wardrobe go-to?

A funky silk shirt, black jeggings and a decent pair of Chelsea boots. Saying that, the ones I’m wearing right now I’ve had for about two years [laughs].

Candid Magazine Harry Lee Dobson
Harry Lee Dobson, photographed by Kieran Gallop

Any favourite brands?

Topman, ASOS and Zara are decent for my upper half and shoes but for my legs New Look jeggings do the trick as they’re tight! The only down side is that there are no front pockets which, is why I’ve lost my phone twice in the last six months [laughs] – not good.

Will you be playing any gigs this year?

Solo: yes, KOKO: yes. I’m currently finishing up my EP at the moment so I am going to be gigging local and around London to promote my music whilst the writing, recording and practicing of the band happens behind-the-scenes. KOKO will be on-the-scene and in your ears by the end of this year, I can tell you that.

When is the EP due out?

My EP called Different City, which I’ve been working on since I went solo back in March, will consist of four original songs and it will be out by the end of this year, just before KOKO makes an appearance. What we’ve written so far and have down, I can assure you, it’s gonna be mad.

A lot of work and time has gone into this band already, which I why I believe this is gonna work so well.

Follow Harry Lee Dobson on Instagram to find out when Different City will be released.

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