There's that very distinct feeling when you talk with someone late at night, when you're laying side by side or sitting parked up in the car.

It's still and quiet and for some reason it's easier to be honest because you're both just facing forward into the dark.

That's what it's like talking to Aldous Harding.

Even though I try to start off friendly and conversational, we very quickly delve into a quiet, slow exchange of thoughts that almost feels like therapy - I just haven't quite figured out which of us was the therapist yet.


Every word she utters is carefully considered, every sentence thoughtfully constructed - even if every train of thought doesn't always stay on the rails. Somehow she is equal parts guarded and raw at the same time, and things sound simultaneously deep and affected and it's difficult to keep your footing.

The key to unlocking the mystery, if it's anywhere, is in her music.

It's probably not though.

Aldous' is real name is Hannah, but she doesn't want you to know Hannah. She will give you Aldous and nothing more, whether you like it or not.

That's why she comes across the way she does, sings the way she does and writes about the things she does. It's why she performs in a certain way and contorts her voice to "challenge" you.

"It'll always be a show," she says, unapologetically.

"I think people are particularly interested to see who the real me is, but… different stories call for different approaches and you change based on the experience you want that person to have."

Her sophomore album Party won Harding huge international acclaim for her unique vocal style and heartbreaking lyricism. Where Party was mournful and hauntingly beautiful, her latest album Designer is markedly more upbeat and full of light.


The difference is, when Harding made Party she was in a place of "heaviness" - "and I was using my voice and space to keep people in this place with me... so [with Designer] I wanted to, I suppose, blow that away," she says.

"I wanted to show people that there's lots of ways to work a space and you can take those same feelings and keep it loose, you know? It's a lot of the same ideas, but it's just a different approach."

The way she puts it, we're still in the same house that the Party took place in, we're just "in a different room about it".

But really the biggest change is she's arrived at a point where she's realised "none of it really matters". "It" being - as far as I can make out - anything we do in life.

"I mean, of course it matters," she clarifies, "but it can't matter the way we think it does because we're not really gonna know if it mattered at the end - there's gonna be no way to measure that.

"I find that comforting and an equally purposeful way to think, that there's lots of ways to flex both your strengths and your weaknesses. Like there's a lot of strengths in Designer but there's also a lot of weakness - it's just the way we've delivered it that is… lighter."

Confused? So was I. So I had her explain further.

"I guess the point of Designer is someone saying, 'well, I'm not necessarily a remarkable person, but here's something I've made and this is a different way'. I think there's strength in seeing somebody who's not necessarily winning at life… to make something that makes people feel like they've won when they hear it.

"I think contentment moves around, it comes and it goes and in a lot of ways I'm winning and then in some ways - like anybody else - I lose something in that winning something. It sort of shifts feet, it shifts weight. So because I don't know the point of it all, I couldn't really tell you what winning is, enough to say that I was."

So if there's no point, I wonder, what drives her to carry on making her art? Her answer, to her at least, is simple: "Well if there's no point, then why not?"

Harding doesn't believe the point of life is simply happiness, because if it were, then why is it so hard to find and hold on to? To save herself the heartache, she's just stopped trying to figure out "the point" and is finding comfort in the fact that nothing really matters in the grand scheme of things.

"And that doesn't mean we shouldn't listen and try to make it a better situation for as many people as we can, but at the same time I think that purpose is overrated because it's fickle depending on who you meet and the things you see and I'm just kind of trying to be a bit looser with life," she says.

"It's like that Mike Tyson quote; 'everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.'"

So for now, she's just making the music she feels compelled to make and delivering it whatever way seems to fit.

She's well aware that a lot of people don't like that but she doesn't care. As I said at the beginning, "Aldous Harding" is very much a case of you getting what you're given and making of that what you will.

"It's interesting because if you don't buy it, you don't buy it. And that's fine!" she says. "But I think what people have to understand is there is a place for everything. Some of the things that people said about [me], I get it, I really do. I listen to music too, I like to think I can recognise a piece of art from a piece of s**t, but it's different for everyone and I guess some of the reasons people didn't buy it, I didn't buy their reasons… so I was kind of safe.

"If people are looking for somebody to trust and to look deep into their eyes to give them all of themselves… in the way they think they need, then go home. You should have people like that, that's not my responsibility, that's not what I'm offering."

Simply put, Harding has stopped caring because like she's said many times during our chat - what's the point? All she can do now is make the art her heart demands and leave the rest in the wind.

"I've done the whole, crossing my legs, trying to make my nose look smaller than it is, shrinking violet s**t - I've done all of that. Like, 'oh if I can be pretty and non-threatening and sound beautiful'… but that's rubbish. That's not what made me feel fulfilled.

"I'm not afraid to look stupid and I'm not afraid to look like I'm trying too hard. I am a try hard, that's exactly what I am, because it's important to me."

Who: Aldous Harding
What: New album Designer
When: Out Friday