After spending much of the past few years helping other artists, Kiwi R&B-pop artist, songwriter and producer Vince Harder is ready to step back into the spotlight following the release of his hot new single Next To You.

Harder first made his mark on the New Zealand charts a decade ago after collaborating with Kiwi hip-hop DJ and producer P-Money on the number one single Everything, before following up with his debut solo album The Space Between Us in 2011.

In the years since, the versatile performer moved across the Tasman and returned to musical theatre in the Australian production of Jersey Boys, and began writing and producing for numerous artists including Stan Walker.

After returning home in 2017, the West Auckland born and raised 37-year-old finally has a new album in the works and is excited to make his return to live shows with a performance at the Majestic in Christchurch on May 25.

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Harder is set to release his second album later this year - his first since 2011's The Space Between Us. Photo / Supplied.
Harder is set to release his second album later this year - his first since 2011's The Space Between Us. Photo / Supplied.

"Next To You is the first single for the year so it's a very exciting time for me," said Harder.

"I've got a new album [coming out], I can't reveal the date yet because we're finalising all the tracks.

"I haven't put out an actual album since The Space Between Us. I've done a few EPs in-between but this will be a proper full album."

The release last month of Next To You followed the soulful hit Not Gonna Let Go, which received heavy radio play late last year.

The new track features Harder's distinctive vocals layered up, which combined with a 90s-style production gives it a crossover retro-future funk vibe, reminiscent of the music Harder favoured while growing up.

The catchy party-starting tune has been paired with a 90s style video – which also features his young son Jaxon.

"This single definitely has a lot of throwback feel. The music I grew up with was definitely Dr. Dre inspired as well as just 90s music in general," he said.

"That era is a sound that I used to love and so I wanted to put a bit of that in the new music and so you kind of hear that through Next To You.

"I'm very excited. It's been a bit of a process getting it all ready, especially with the music video, but I'm happy that it's all go now."

Having written Next To You here in New Zealand, Harder jetted off to Los Angeles to work with the likes of Grammy award-winning musician and producer Printz Board and Sheila E. before returning home to team up with DJ producer duo Sachi.

"I was in LA for two and a half weeks in November, so it was very much in and out, but I pretty much used every day to work in the studio.

Vince Harder is back following the release last month of his new single Next To You. Photo / BoP Times.
Vince Harder is back following the release last month of his new single Next To You. Photo / BoP Times.

"It was a good time. It was a good challenge for me to be able to write and do recording because I was working with Printz Board and he's done a lot of big artists, including working with Six60 out here. Some of that music will no doubt be on the album.

"Sheila's a musical icon because her dad is a very well-known percussionist and obviously her being a part of Prince's life. So it was just an awesome experience being in the room with her, working with her, and I'm sure people will soon be able to hear what we've been creating. It's some pretty cool stuff."

Harder would have liked to have capitalised sooner on the momentum he built with The Space Between Us, but other projects kept him busy while he also became a little protective of his own music.

"[Writing my own music] is something I've been wanting to do a lot more of," he said.

"The past few years it's been a lot of production for different artists like Stan and a few others.

"It's always a hard thing for me to put out my own music because you get so close to your own music, you're not sure if you want to put it out or not.

"I feel like I'm in a good place now to start releasing my own music so it's good timing for me and I'm actually quite excited to start going through that whole process."

Vince Harder will perform live at the Majestic, Christchurch on May 25 - for more info see vinceharder.com