North London-born Sinead Harnett’s own brand of R&B on her mixtape Chapter One is filled with delicate melodies and underlying embellishments but anchored with a hard bodied soul that is mature beyond her 26 years.
Living at home with her mother and sister, Sinead became obsessed with the classic sounds of Michael Jackson and Tina Turner. Naturally progressing from the harmonies of the music she would hear from her home, her love for female-led R&B began to grow, specifically from the likes of Destiny’s Child permeating from the walls of her sister’s bedroom. Using that passion for addictive toplines, Sinead was drawn to a family piano after her sister left for university and her mother would spend a large amount of time away from home: “I had quite a lot of time on my own. I’d go to the piano and it was almost like company.”
From the age of around 10, Harnett began writing the earliest blueprints of songs from the family piano,and as her musical ability started to grow, so did her musical palette, quickly beginning to nurture an affection for rhythms further leftfield than the tones of Michael Jackson or Beyoncé Knowles.
Using this broad musical taste, Harnett began to use jazz, blues and hip hop instrumentals as her backdrop, creating a musical fingerprint and honing her songwriting craft as a means of self expression. This craving to entertain eventually led her to the stage, both in the form of dramatic performance and her very first gigs at the age of 16, helping her identify and express these conflicting emotions she harboured growing up.
When the time came to apply for university, Harnett’s passion for creativity saw her shun a psychology degree in favour of an acting course at Bournemouth University, pushing her home of London away in favour of the “independence” of the South coast. This independence led to a double life between her studies, as she used her weekends to travel back and forth to continue recording with her London-based musical network: “I’d always be getting the coach back and spending the whole weekend recording with my friend. I’d sleep on his floor, then get the coach back.”
After working in a burger bar, singing Motown hits and serving food alongside her degree and regular visits back to London, Sinead was called upon by the Godfather of Grime, Wiley, to record vocals for his single ‘Walk Away’ after a chance exchange on Twitter. This link up became the catalyst for something much bigger, as Sinead quickly picked up more high profile collaborations in the shape of Disclosure’s ‘Boiling’, Ryan Hemsworth, Snakehips and three tracks on Rudimental’s debut album.
Across three EPs, a number of singles, and a few more high profile collaborations, Harnett’s artistic identity is fully realised.
2016 saw the release of Sinead Harnett’s self-titled EP, with a charge lead by the brilliant ‘If You Let Me’ produced by GRADES. Now, comprised of eight tracks, Sinead Harnett’s mixtape ‘Chapter one’ alludes to her diverse range of influences, but with a clarity and self-assuredness in her own vision. This confidence in herself and resistance to stereotypes is a value that comes across in her forthcoming record, as she moulds the conventional sounds of contemporary R&B to her own design alongside forward-thinking producers Grades, JD. Reid, Kaytranada and for a sultry blend of soul and cutting edge electronic music.
In her most autobiographical work to date, Harnett’s created a body of work that not only feels true to herself, but speaks to anyone that’s felt like they’ve visited a dark place; offering hope through a record that pays homage to the music she listened to growing up and inspiring a vibe unlike anything heard in popular music today.