Finally making his North American debut this week, Australian Mike Katz, who you may know better as Harvey Sutherland, is bringing his live show to Canadian soil. Starting off producing as Mike Katz and Mike Kay, he felt he lacked some consistency in his sound. The Harvey Sutherland alias was born to represent the more club-oriented music he’d been making at the time. Katz started off playing in a few bands but then transitioned into improvised live jams when he hooked up with local Melbourne promoters and label collective “This Thing Records & Tapes”, who also happened to release the first Harvey Sutherland record (on cassette).
In late 2014, Harvey Sutherland’s “Brothers EP” on Andy Hart’s Voyage Recordings made waves and was the beginning of his meteoric rise in popularity, which was only compounded by the following year’s “Bermuda EP” on MCDE Recordings. This of course, led to the inception of Harvey Sutherland & The Bermuda Trio with Graeme Pogson on drums and Tamil Rogeon on strings. The trio went on to enjoy their first European tour last year. The band have also released a couple of records on Katz’s own Clarity Recordings, “Priestess/Bravado” last year and “Expectations” earlier this year.
There are funk, disco, soul and house influences in your work. How would you describe your sound? Any particular influences?
I’m really interested in funk with stripped-back production, records like Sly’s There’s a Riot Goin’ On, Prince, Shuggie Otis, modern stuff like Steve Lacy, bedroom disco, modern soul. Chicago house, Drexciya, ECM, modal jazz. Anything interesting, minimal and soulful.
You’ve had a couple of acclaimed releases over the past several years on labels like Voyage and MCDE but have decided to go your own way with Clarity Recordings. Can you give us a little insight as to your vision for the label?
I want to showcase modern Australian music, and use the label to work with some amazing musicians in Melbourne and around the country. It’s predominantly a platform for my ‘producer’s hat’, so I’ll probably only release a few records that are really important to me. It’s a slow process!
Who are some names coming out of Australia (or beyond) at the moment that we may not have heard of but need to check out?
Krakatau. Kane Ikin. Tiana Khasi. Zeitgeist Freedom Energy Exchange.
Tell us a little bit about your current live setup. What kind of gear do you use and how has it evolved since you first started? We know the Juno-60 has been an essential piece.
I’ve pretty much kept the same rig for the solo shows – it’s all based around the Juno and Ableton, with some additional keyboards occasionally. I’m interested more in doing things in a ‘dub wise’ style, running tracks over a mixer with some delays and efx to keep the loops interesting. I think that will be the next evolution.
How does your solo setup compare to when you play with your band and does your live set differ greatly from what you do in the studio?
The band show is a very different beast – it’s a wilder dynamic with three people and we try to make it more of a ‘stage show’. Playing solo is more for the club, it’s head-down, dark room but still funky, just a different beat. Studio process is like a strange mixture of both, but it’s definitely more of a solo endeavour.
What’s your process like when writing new music? Would you say you’re the main producer in the group with the vision for the material you’re writing or are you all contributing somewhat equally?
I’ll spend a lot of time with Graeme recording rhythm tracks, we’ll just jam in the studio for ages. Then it’s a slow process of editing down those jams into tunes, overdubbing, re-recording and throwing stuff away. I’m doing most of the initial writing and most of the production, but then Tamil will bring a new melodic idea and the tune will take a different turn.
This is your first time playing in North America, correct? What are you most looking forward to checking out in Montreal and Toronto?
It is! I’m here to eat. Mile End, jerk chicken, bagels, bottomless filter coffee and whatever else this country puts on my plate.
Any forthcoming releases in the pipeline that you’d be willing to share some news about?
I’m doing another 12” with my good friend and collaborator Kane Ikin. Should be out this year! Everything else is under lock and key though ;)