Recently dubbed "an artist to watch" by Rolling Stone, soul vocalist Jess Harlen has been paving a way with her hypnotic groove overseas and beyond. You may have seen her touring the world as a member of Blue King Brown, however home is where the heart is and for Harlen that's the rugged coastlines and rolling hills of Aotearoa. Born in Palmerston North, Jess's whanau moved to Australia where she spent her school years in Brisbane. Upon graduating highschool, Harlen hit the road to go fruit picking where she instead found herself playing residencies in North Queensland pubs and quickly realised Music was her calling. After flirting with Law at Uni, Jess decided to defer and make the full transition into a music career.
Signing to soul label Plethora records in 2010, Harlen teamed up with producer Plutonic Lab to release her debut album Neon Heartache, which was welcomed as "one of the year’s best releases" -Herald Sun, for which she was awarded Best Female Artist at prestigious The Age EG Awards. Check the Single video clips on youtube, summer jam 'Watch the Water' and galactic beat 'I Go'.Breaking open 2012 with 'a combination of relaxed cool and obvious care' (Rave Magazine), her sophomore album Park Yard Slang is currently receiving wide critical acclaim. Check the video clip for the first single 'Let You Down'.
Currently living between Brisbane and Boston, Harlen shot the music video for second single 'Weaving' in Chinatown, New York. The clip features chiselled Brooklyn Krumper HallowDreamz. His presence intermittently scattered among frames of Jess, symbolic; an ideal dream against the turmoil of reality. WATCH NEW VIDEO
Unafraid to be open about her sexuality, the story of the song, and the premise for the clip depicts Harlen’s relationship with a smouldering temptress, ‘weaving’ in and out of love.
Hard work is paying off for the self-managed artist as Jess continues to receive well earned recognition for her sophomore release. Earlier in the year, Park Yard Slang was featured as Album of the Week on ABC Radio, shortly after Jess was selected for the exclusive John Butler initiative - The Seed Management Workshop 2012. In September 2012, Jess was flown from the USA to New Zealand to perform at the Waiata Maori Music Awards, for which she was nominated in 3 categories (Best Pop Album, Best Urban Album, and Best Female Artist).
Harlen is of Ngapuhi and Ngati Porou descent and has supported Nesian Mystik, Hollie Smith, Che Fu, and other high profile NZ acts in Australia, holding it down for her iwi abroad.
"Jess Harlen - A strong soul singing sister, continuing a long tradition of Mana Wahine songstresses from Aotearoa.." - Che Fu