The last time I spotted Steven Harris he was pounding out some heavy dark synth tones with Nun at the now defunct Hugs and Kisses. Fast-forward a few years and Harris has just released ‘Present Tense’, his debut album as Pyrrhic on cassette and digital through Bandcamp. Fan’s of Nun will feel immediately at home with Pyrrhic’s pummeling dark-wave synth-pop electronic body music, or whatever this is called. Tonally similar to Nun Pyrrhic mines the psychological space where nightmares live with ‘Present Tense’. I thought it was a great opportunity to pop my virtual head over to Steven’s new home in Adelaide and get the lowdown.
Cyclic Defrost: Is Nun still going / Is this a side project?
Steven Harris: Yes, Nun has never really ended, it’s just in a state of hibernation, particularly so at the moment. Each member (Tom, Hugh, Jenny and myself) have other projects on the go. Also there have been a lot of family changes/additions, work and geographical changes with each respective member, so sometimes an extended pause is required. Given how COVID-19 has kinda decimated the arts industry, I’m not sure how we would work out the logistics, let alone what I’m imaging to be an extortionate fee for flying over for a show now. I guess you could say this is a side project, I’ve been recording at home for a long time so I have a few different hats for different outlets, but this is the first “physical” release of a body of work.
Cyclic Defrost: How does living in Adelaide effect your music? Seems like a dark and moody place still based on this album.
Steven Harris: I’m not sure if where I’m living now has effected my music for this release, this release is a document recorded over time in two different cities. I grew up in Adelaide before moving to Melbourne in the early / mid 90’s. So I lived in Melbourne for slightly over 20 years! It has been different moving back to Adelaide though. It has changed a bit since I left, but in the same way most Australian cities have, where they become the same thing in each state. I don’t find Adelaide dark and moody, in fact quite the opposite, the hills and the beach are at your doorstop, which can be a great source to clear your head and relax.
Cyclic Defrost: Can you talk me through your set-up a little? Knowing you I would expect it to be out of the box, but maybe it’s all soft synths these days?
Steven Harris: My set-up is to use Pro Tools as a Midi Sequencer and as a tape machine. I’ve made up a few templates where I’ve mapped out the Akai MPC1000 which is where most of my drum sounds/samples come from. I also use this method to send out triggers to analog drum racks and brains, this way I can keep everything in sync for the recording. Most of my synths are all connected via midi so I can get those going quickly and in sync. My gear consists of mostly old analog and FM synthesizers and samplers picked up over time. It’s all squeezed into one of the spare bedrooms, everything is in reach and all plugged in so I can just get going when required which is a massive help. For pads and ambience I usually use the Korg Polysix, Akai S5000, Ensoniq EPS, FM, Kawai K1 and for bass/bleeps/leads it’s the Korg MS10/20, Yamaha TX81Z, Roland SH-1 and Novation BassStation Rack. Plus whatever else is lying around like Walkmans, Dictaphones, Reel to Reels and Circuit Bent DIY gear for some texture which helps to hold it all together.
‘Present Tense’ by Pyrrhic is out now on a limited edition cassette and digital through Bandcamp. Go there and buy a tape and get your dark synth vibes on. It’s an excellent release.