In the famous words of Aaliyah: If at first you don't succeed, dust yourself off and try again. Heeding the age old adage is 20-something-year-old Karen Harding who fresh from getting kicked off the X Factor some two years ago at the boot camp stage has joined forces with production man of the moment MNEK (Rudimental, Tinie Tempah et al) for her supremely addictive debut single 'Say Something. But don't just take our word for it; the track has already had over half a million views and is currently rising in rank. With a classic soul voice that sits perfectly with the kind of deep-house and garage infused rhymths she's fast becoming synonymous with, Karen Harding is one to know.
With her debut single 'Say Something' set for release next week, we caught up with the Nottingham hailing singer to talk aspiring to Mariah Carey career trajectories, what she learnt through taking part in the X Factor and more...
Hey Karen! Your debut single ‘Say Something’ is doing incredibly with over half a million views!
Yeah! On [both] the Soundcloud and on the music video as well. It’s also just gone up to number 16 on the Shazam chart which is absolutely amazing.
Tell us a bit about the track...
It was written by myself and MNEK. We got together and ‘Say Something’ happened in like a two-hour session that he almost cancelled on me. I walked in and was like ‘I wanna do something a bit Artful Dodger-esque’ and that’s where that came from!
Amazing that you got it done in two hours! Is it always so quick?
** It always goes very naturally with MNEK - he gets me and I get him and he works very fast as well, he’s uber talented. I wish I could work with him every day but he’s obviously got his own project going on as well. [But] it is good to work with different people… there have been sessions where I’ve wanted to cry because people have brought things out of me that I didn’t know I had.
Is there anywhere in particular that you like writing?
It’s usually just before I slip into a dream. I really have to force myself to wake up and write down whatever I’ve just thought of. Sometimes I’ve thrown away ideas because I couldn’t be bothered to get up and get my iPad.
What’s the last song you heard that you wish you had written?
There are a lot of those songs to be honest. I’d really, really love to have written ‘Aint Nobody’ by Chaka Khan. And I’d also have loved to have sung it! It’s so uplifting and it’s sort of like a party tune at the same time.
When did you first realize you could sing?
At a really young age! My mum and dad bought me a karaoke machine and I just started singing from there, really. I’d get in from school and I’d put the karaoke on and just sing through all the songs… Celine Dion, Spice Girls, Whitney Houston; just a total mixture of stuff.
Was there a light bulb moment where you realized music is what you wanted to do?
The light bulb has always been on. There have been moments where I thought that I couldn’t do it or I wasn’t going to be successful but every time I have those moments it was shadowed heavily by the need for music in my life.
You were on X Factor a couple of years ago till you got kicked out at boot camp; what was that like?
** It was an experience. I would recommend it to artists to go through that process because personally, I grew stronger from it. You need to have somebody tell you ‘no’ so that you can get even better.
What do you think of Fleur signing to Syco off the back of last season’s X Factor? A lot of people have been quite upset that two people essentially got the same prize…
I think its pretty obvious that she’s worked her bottom side off for so long. Whenever I watched her on the show I was like she’s amazing because she’s given everything to it and you can tell. If the X Factor was her way of getting noticed and getting signed then that’s fair enough. I think if they’re going to sign you from the X Factor you’re going to be successful - Ella Henderson is a prime example of that.
What’s your style like? What do you like to wear?
If heels were comfortable enough I would wear high heels every day. I like to be tall and usually bright, colourful tops and big hair and bright lipstick. I watch a lot of Whitney Houston movies and stuff like that so the shoulder pads and thin waistlines… I’m all about that.
Any up and coming designers you’re into at the moment?
I wear a lot of vintage clothes. I’ve got a lot of stuff off my mam from like the 70s then there’s a couple of stores that I really like going to as well. Vintageous Rags in Middlesborough and Deep in Newcastle are my go-to’s.
What’s your definition of success?
You want to be the next Mariah Carey?
It’s more the longevity, having a recognizable voice and just being so successful over a long period of time. Creating amazing albums; just feel good, happy RnB, pop, dance-y albums.