If there's anyone who knows what it takes to make it as an EDM vocalist, it's Karen Harding.
With half a billion streams to her name, the prolific English singer-songwriter is the stentorian voice behind many a dance anthem. Having cut her teeth in the contemporary dance music space for the better half of a decade, Harding is revered as one of the scene's most in-demand collaborators.
MNEK, Disclosure, Giorgio Moroder, Galantis, Purple Disco Machine—the list goes on. These electronic music superstars have sought out Harding to breathe life into their compositions before they become generational anthems.
Fresh off the release of her long-awaited debut EP Sweet Vibrations, Harding has linked up with EDM.com to give her firsthand experience and offer five tips to aspiring EDM vocalists. In her own words:
Be open to collaboration.
The dance music scene is full of collaborations and they can be key to your success. Not only does it mean that you can work with other artists and producers (and grow your network of contacts—another important aspect of a successful career as a vocalist) but it also helps towards your numbers as you are introduced to new audiences who might not know your work. This means you can grow a larger fanbase because more fans are discovering you.
Learn how to deal with rejection.
One huge thing that I have found very important is dealing with rejection. Nobody sees the rejection behind the scenes but every big artist has suffered it in some point in their career. I would always say to never take rejection too personally, music is very much an opinionated world so maybe you're not what they're looking for at that time but that has no reflection on your ability.
Educate yourself in music.
I started using Pro Tools when I was around 16. I taught myself how to record vocals then moved on to using Logic. I think it's really important to learn how to make music and record vocals. It's amazing what you can learn on YouTube!
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I remember I used to watch producers who I was in the studio with and then go practice at home. Never be too shy to ask if you're unsure of something.
I would also recommend to get some decent speakers and decent microphones so that you can give yourself the best shot for good quality vocals that you can send to producers and other artists. Learn about plugins, learn about comping, just try to learn as much as you can about recording vocals and this will boost your confidence no end!
Live performance is one of the best things about being a vocalist. We get to stand at the front and get the crowd going!
It's super important to look after your voice, so warm ups are a must, also keeping yourself fit is important too as that helps towards stamina on stage. I started off gigging in my hometown at local bars and restaurants and sometimes I'd be performing to no one but now I look back at those gigs and feel grateful I got to do them—they were important for me to gain confidence in my ability and continue to improve as a vocalist.
Sometimes when it wasn't that busy I would treat the gig like a practice session. When performing live, make sure you have practiced the set through so that you are fully confident in what you are doing, even if it's just one song.
Get a good team behind you.
You need to find people who you can trust, who will have your best interests at heart and people who will work just as hard as you. Work with people who you like and you feel comfortable enough around to be yourself entirely. It's important to be yourself as sometimes it's easy to get caught up in it all. Remember to follow your gut instinct as it's usually right.
Sweet Vibrations is out now on Ultra Music. You can stream the EP here.