Passing notes with Class Actress Elizabeth Harper

Sjimon Gompers

'More hooks, less books' and Elizabeth Harper. Photo by Victoria Jacob

In a recent correspondence with Class Actress’ Elizabeth Harper, our conversations explored the allure of Paris, a plethora of chic designers, and her connection to musical contemporaries. From walks the Seine, fabric spinners Hogan McLaughlin and Prabal Gurung, getting caught at witch house raves, and a dream of working with Pictureplane’s Travis Egedy, we touched on many subjects, and still found time to discuss her new album Rapprocher out now on Carpark. Class Actress is currently on tour in Europe.

Loved seeing the Paris rooftops in the “Bienvenue” video showing an illuminated holiday time Paris; any noteworthy cafes or dives visited of interest?

Ah yes. The rooftop is also featured in the sexy film Novo. Such a great view. I actually love the markets. There's a covered market in the Marais called “Le marché des enfants rouges”, which is perfect for all kind of foods and fresh products. And the best walk along the Seine river is from the 5th to the 7th arrondissement. I don't really go to cafes and dives but I guess I like Le Fumoir, Le Sir Winston and Wall Street (which just opened and has really amazing cocktails). It's a tiny place actually, like Le Baron, with a host that looks like Marilyn Monroe's bored little sister.

Did you get a chance to visit the ancient Les Deux Magots on Boulevard Saint-Germain?

As for Les Deux Magots… It has become an 'attrape-touristes' .

That place is baller, you can live like Jay Z and order a bottle of Cristal Louis Roederer for 280€. I stuck with the 4€ espresso.

Yes it is, but isn't that part of the reason people go? Exclusivity is the only real currency we have left. For me i prefer the idea that If i had to sleep in a Parisian shop I would chose Serge Lutens, a fragrance designer. Ahah my favorite thing about that shop is the orange blossom perfume, I could literally sleep in that scent.

Will every Class Actress video like “Bienvenue” and “Weekend” feature Elizabeth Harper with a new love in a new exotic locale?

I hope so… that's the plan. Or maybe that's the reality. Whichever comes first.

I like the slip that you kept in on “Love Me Like You Used To” with the utterance of 'sorry' before the final chorus. Who decided to keep the well positioned flub on the final mix?

That would be Mark and I. We left it in because I thought we had left in me saying 'Right,' as in me being totally sarcastic, roll your eyes kind of thing after the lyric “to save what is left if us… somehow .. (right)” but I guess it sounds like 'Sorry, oops I did it again.'

What is the song-crafting process like between you and producers Mark Richardson and Scott Rosenthal?

I write a song and bring it in to mark. There are long confessional talks over morning coffee, private dance routines, some crunk juice. You know, the usual. And then we make the magic. Then Scott has the fine ear to clean up the parts where we draw outside the lines.

How do you all come to agreement on beats, mixes, edits, loops, samples, etc?

Mark and I have a symbiotic relationship with music. I have said this before but he has a secret cable connection into my brain and so we can communicate with very simple words and ideas and know exactly what the other person is thinking.

I enjoyed your take on Neon Indian's “Terminally Chill,” are there any planned future covers in the works?

Thank you. Scott produced that and did a lovely job. We couldn't really cover the song, it’s so good the way it is, so we just made totally new music for it and I added my own chorus at the end.

I have heard rumors of you starting your own clothes and perfume line. What would/will they be called?

How about 'Sick of Myself' or “The Starlet's Conceit'…I hope you are in on the joke here! But in reality I think 'Ardency' would be a good perfume name, so then the clothing would have to be called JOA.

Which designers speak to you the most?

The young designer Hogan McLaughlin is the brightest star on the horizon. Seriously watch out. He is a wizard. I also love the work of Prabal Gurung and Mandy Coon. My friend Alejandro Cardenas is the Art Director and textile designer of Proenza Schouler. I love all that.

What is the relationship between the textiles and the music to you?

It’s a sensory thing. Good fabric is like good music. You can feel it. You know when it’s good. Like food, it’s a sensory thing. Music is for the soul, the body and fabric is for the skin the flow the eyes the feel. They are totally intertwined. I feel horrible in bad fabric just like I feel when I’m caught at a witch house rave.

Since Journal of Ardency what has shifted for Class Actress?

Hmm. More hooks less books ?

Your music doesn't have the same preoccupation with gnosticism or occult flirtations with symbols like many of your contemporaries like Austra, Chelsea Wolfe, Zola Jesus, Zombelle, etc. Why the emphases on relationships, personal reflections in your music and not more of the dark-eyelined abyss of the kind-of-gothic variety?

You mean i am not wearing enough eyeliner? I thought i was wearing enough… I guess I write about love, I like classic pop music. Love is popular. You can’t escape it, we all want what we can’t have and I am a romantic to a fault. I can’t be saved, it’s too late. I think I have enough “magical” powers that I don't feel the need to explore the occult that often. It’s in me. My antenna is always on.

“All the Saints” invokes religious figures and cryptic, discreet conversation and “Need to Know” reminds of some of Toni Halliday's moodier moments in Curve. Will the follow up to Rapprocher take on more of these moodier and/or darker tones?

Possibly. I am up to the challenge of opening up some doors to the other side, I'm ready to see whats in the dark. But then you know there will be bright P-POP moments because that's where you get to. There is always light at the end of the tunnel.

Are any of your friends beat-makers and groove tailors we should know about?

All my friends are beat-makers and groove tailors. Oliver Clark has some great new boots I'm into. Would love to do a track with Travis from Pictureplane.

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