During her brief recording career, singer Elizabeth Harper has not been shy about letting her myriad 1980s influences shine through.
Harper’s self-titled debut album, originally released in 2005, essentially was a collection of guitar-driven demos she recorded and produced with Scott Rosenthal.
“I had no idea how Smiths-y it really was, but I was sort of obsessing over them at the time,” she recalls.
But she also had a love of sampled drums and electronic music a la New Order and Depeche Mode. That side of her not only led to Harper adopting a different sound but also working with Rosenthal and Mark Richardson under the name Class Actress, which will release its debut EP on Feb. 9.
“I never wanted to be a singer-songwriter/my name solo artist,” she explains. “I just started playing guitar and it all happened so fast, I didn’t have time to think of a name or start a band I felt was really the right fit.
“Also in the character of Class Actress,” she adds, “I can actually be more myself in ways and really go all the way with whatever I want. [It] suits my personality — maybe because it’s not a character? Anyway, I much, much prefer being in a band; before it was too invasive and misrepresenting.”
Early ’80s dance music as well as ’90s hip-hop and current pop also weave their way throughout the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based group’s EP, Journal of Ardency (Terrible Records).
As for the EP’s title, Harper says, “One day I was in my friend’s art studio, and we were catching up. Since my favorite topic of conversation is love and desire. I said to her, ‘So, what’s new in your journal of ardency?’ And then I thought, ‘Whoa, what a great phrase — is ardency even a word? Where did that come from?’ It’s the state of being ardent — how apropos since that’s my constant state.
“I went home and wrote a song using the phrase, and that was that,” she adds. “I like to talk to creative, interesting people so I can riff phrases and see how they fall. I love conversation that sounds like a riddle. I am always up for the challenge of wit and wordplay – [there’s] not enough of that these days.”
— By Chris M. Junior