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Joel Harkin

Folk // Belfast, Antrim // he/him/sé/é

Joel Harkin is an alternative, ambient folk singer. He writes songs about cherry blossoms and old churches, about lost friends and migrations and a fear of dying. On his twenty-sixth birthday, in the middle of the first lockdown, Harkin released his debut album Never Happy to warm reception, with airplay from BBC Radio 1, BBC 6 Music, and RTÉ Radio 1, among others. Singles from the album received premieres from outlets such as Clash Magazine, The Line of Best Fit, and Hot Press Magazine, among others. Never Happy was shortlisted for the Northern Irish Music Prize in September. Harkin is an alumnus of the Oh Yeah Centre’s Scratch My Progress talent development programme. Harkin performed twice at the Other Voices festival in Ballina in February, his last live performances for many months. He has participated in a number of livestream gigs, such as Hot Press Magazine’s Y&E series, The Atlantic Sessions online festival and A Song Just For You at Christmas with The Centre Culturel Irlandais. Harkin is an independent artist who has gradually built a sound, a following and a plan for his music. His plans to tour have been put on hold, but hopefully not for long.

Press Quotes:

"This is the sort of misery that I love" - BBC Radio 1

" A fast rising Belfast songwriter" - BBC Radio 6 Music

"An uncommon joy." - Dig With It Magazine

"Never Happy immediately became my personal soundtrack that is the background to this grey period in which emotions mix with each other and flatten like my immobile lips. It is the record that will make your day seem a little better than it was before. " - DLSO.IT

"It (Vada) is absolutely brilliant" - BBC Radio Ulster

"Bursts of melody twist and turn within the piece, with Joel Harkin patching his indie confessionals to pop lucidity." - Clash Magazine

"Despite this records title, somewhere in the debris Joel Harkin finds the contentment he's longing for. There's echoes of Oberst, Bridgers and Burnside, but the voice emerging from the gatefold vinyl is sincerely his own. A very important record." - Encore NI

"Vada grabbed our ears with its confident and lush arrangement." - Nialler9

"A deeply dreamlike release from Joel Harking, the hazy alt-folk of ‘Vada’ makes for an engrossing offering that plays with subtle sonic gestures and introspective songwriting. " - The Last Mixed Tape

"“Vada” is a delicate full-band effort marrying thoughts of rural home life with a 1991 coming-of-age classic" - The Line of Best Fit

"The track finds the Belfast-based singer-songwriter ruminating on family life and inequality, while he brings his lo-fi alternative folk sound to emotional new heights." - Hot Press Magazine

"You’d remember Joel Harkin if you ever saw him live. He talks plenty between songs, often spinning off into personal stories and revealing a bit too much information for tender ears.His debut album Never Happy contains keen observations about the Ormeau Road, Alicante, Kyoto and the Rocky mountains. Bonus points for writing a lovely goodbye to his adored dog, Memphis. " - Daily Mirror Northern Ireland

"The Donegal singer-songwriter’s craft brims at every turn with pathos and pure insight, and is rounded off with a melodic sensibility all his very own." - The Thin Air

“A love song like few others, Joel Harkin’s touching ode to a lost love reminisces on the little things across a bed of typically downcast guitar swirls and infrequent instrumentation that brings out the beautiful lyrics. Written for his dog Memphis, it’s a touching tribute that hits true while lapsteel and harmonies add warmth to the whole affair..” Chordblossom

Notable Live Shows:

● A Song For Just For You At Christmas for The Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, France - Dec 2020
● Atlantic Sessions Virtual Festival November 2020
● Hot Press ‘Y&E Sessions’ Livestream November 2020
● 2 Shows at Other Voices, Ballina - February 2020
● Output Conferance and Showcase - February 2020
● Junior Brother support slot The Palm House, Belfast - December 2019
● Joshua Burnside support slot Bennigans, Derry - October 2019
● Kitt Philippa support slot Upstairs at The Mac, Belfast - May 2019
● Courtney Marie Andrews support slot in The Black Box, Belfast - December 2018
● Rose Water Tour - November 2018
● New Year Tour - January to February 2018

Cool things that have happened:

● Queen's Radio - In Session - May 2021
● 50 Conversations about Music Participant @ Output Conference Belfast - February 2021
● The Vox Set, Live in Lost & Found w/Joshua Burnside - February 2021
● 2 Weeks of Online Songwriter Retreats at Songwriter's Garden with Chris Difford of Squeeze Jan+Feb 2021
● Live Interview on Arena RTÉ Radio 1 November 2020
● 'Never Happy' - Number 7 on Chordblossom's Northern Irish Albums of the Year 2020
● 'No Recycling' - Number 12 on Chordblossom's Northern Irish Songs of the Year 2020
● 'Vada' - Number 72 on the Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Tracks of 2020
● Nominated for the Best Album Award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2020
● 'No Recycling' airplay on BBC Radio 6's BBC Introducing Mixtape with Tom Robinson 2020
● "Thought I'd Go Home" airplay on BBC Radio 1's Chillest show with Phil Taggart 2019
● Nominated for the Oh Yeah Contender Award at the Northern Ireland Music Prize 2019
●"Thought I'd Go Home" Number 12 on Chordblossom's Top 50 Northern Irish Songs of 2019
●"Thought I'd Go Home" Number 90 on The Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Tracks of 2019
●Oh Yeah Centre's Scratch My Progress Talent Development Program Participant Class of 2019/2020
●"Old Churches" Number 12 on Chordblossom's Top 50 Northern Irish Songs of 2018
●"Old Churches" Number 82 on the Thin Air's Top 100 Irish Releases of 2018

Photos by Carrie Davenport and Aaron Cunningham

Joel Harkin's current Artist Picks: