In this series, we invite music lovers to share the songs that have soundtracked their lives. This week, we speak to painter Henrietta Harris. Her new show, Hidden People, is on at Melanie Roger gallery until March 23.

These New Puritans - V (Island Song)

The first time I listened to this album, I remember I waited all day so I could listen to it with headphones at night time, and then this song played, and I was like, "this is completely insane". Like, why is it seven minutes of just this weird drum bit at the end? I just couldn't stop thinking about how bonkers it was, and then it became my favourite song on the album. And then, they tweeted that they were playing that album live at the Barbican Centre in London, and the next day, I bought tickets and went to London and saw them. I've never done anything like that before, but it was so worth it. It was amazing. I just went by myself. It was so fun.


Roberta Flack - The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

This is just a very beautiful song. It's a cover – this guy called Ewan MacColl wrote it for Peggy Seeger, who he was having an affair with, and then they got married I think. It's been covered a lot, and apparently he hated all the covers. Like, how can you hate this? Roberta Flack slowed it down heaps, and apparently she thought she'd recorded it too slow and wanted to re-record it but everyone was like, "no, leave it, it's great". It's just so beautiful. It feels like one of those songs you've always known; it's so familiar and great. Apparently, when she was singing it she was thinking about her cat that had just passed away.


The Cryin' Shames - Please Stay

I got this on a soundtrack of songs by the producer Joe Meek, who was a 60s producer who had a song called Telstar that sounded like outer space – it's quite a famous song. He did really interesting things but he also shot his landlord and then killed himself … he was a murderer. He was eccentric; an eccentric genius. But this song – I always imagined singing it in karaoke and making everyone cry.

Advertisement


The Mint Chicks - Ockham's Razor

The Mint Chicks are probably one of the biggest influences of my life. I was going through uni when they were, I was a few years younger but I knew them, and I'd go and see them every weekend, and Ruban and Kody's art definitely informed my early artistic choices – I guess by making me think more about psychedelic art, or glitchy weirdness; not just sticking with straight portraiture, but giving everything a bit of a weird look to it. They're just geniuses and it was just so special to see them play so often. I've had this song in my head, I would say, every week since I heard it. It was really hard to choose because I don't think they have any bad songs. Sometimes they'd play at a gig and then they'd play at a party so you'd just go to both, and sometimes they'd play at weird festivals that no one would go to, so there'd be like four people in the crowd, but they'd still be climbing the walls and giving it their all.


Frank Ocean - Bad Religion

This was also very hard to choose, but I think this song was made special for me from when he played it on Jimmy Fallon. It's such a good performance. It's so emotional and then, at the end, he does this little grin that's so cute. You can tell he was really proud of it, and he kind of breaks character. It's so sweet. I could listen to Frank Ocean every day, I just love him. He's a genius, and his lyrics are amazing, and he just seems like a very special person. I discovered Frank Ocean because my friend used to be the programme director at bFM, and I'd always ask her if she had any new music, and she was like, "you might like this guy, he's in Odd Future". I listened to the first 30 seconds of Nostalgia Ultra and I was like, "what". I think I even messaged her before the song had even finished, being like, "WHAT!".


Abba – SOS

I just love Abba so much. I've always listened to them, but once I was at the bar D.O.C., and someone DJed this song, and it made me hear it in a completely different way. I was sitting with my friend Casey and Matthew Crawley, and we all just stopped, and were like, "whoa". And then Matthew was like, "genius move". I've always thought about that moment when I listen to it. Sometimes hearing songs loudly in a bar or live makes you hear them completely differently and that happened with this. It's a bloody great song. I think if you don't like Abba, there's something wrong with you. No one's too cool for Abba.


CAN - Vitamin C

This is another one that I just love. I like the phrase, "she's living in and out of tune," and last night I tried to find out what it all means, and there's heaps of people on the internet giving their version of what they think the lyrics mean, and then I just thought, "why does it matter?" I hate people asking what my paintings mean over and over again. It's whatever you want. They do all mean stuff but I like to keep it all very enigmatic and quite private. It's nice to not know what people mean.


- as told to George Fenwick