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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Har Mar Superstar heading for Carlisle

So, let’s talk about nudity. We’re used to it, right? If you listen to hip hop, or R’n’B, or Girls Aloud, the world of gyrating flesh can hold no surprises by now.

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Har Mar Superstar

The sight of a singer’s flawless flesh, stripped down and oiled up in shiny little pants, is simply what you’ve come to expect.

Except usually, all that jiggling about is reserved for a certain type of person. They won’t have hairy nipples for a start, or what looks like the beginning of a bald patch. They certainly won’t grow a moustache.

Welcome, then, to the world of Har Mar Superstar. A talented R’n’B singer-songwriter, he’s obsessed with sex in a perfectly ordinary way. On stage, you’ll find him surrounded by beautiful women, dripping with bling and strutting around in his y-fronts.

Of course, in terms of appearance, he may not be quite what you expect. He’s a little less Fiddy Cent, a little more Ron Jeremy than your average bump n’ grinder.

But then, who did better with the ladies?

“Ladies and men alike love that I don’t give a damn,” says Har Mar, whose real name is Sean Tillman. “And it’s kind of a functional nudity. It keeps the stage wear lasting through the tour.

“I don’t want to sweat out these one-of-a-kind creations right away, because they’re carefully handmade and assembled.”

A good excuse, but you can’t help but feel like he’d take off his clothes if the high street got a bit warm. It’s done with a sense of humour – but Har Mar’s no novelty act.

Behind the scenes, he’s been working with some of rock’s coolest and most influential since releasing You Can Feel Me in 2002.

His second album after a self-titled debut, it featured vocals from indie icon Beth Ditto.

In Power Lunch, they sang a filthy-minded duet on the subject of office shenanigans.

He says: “I already had Power Lunch written, so I waited for Beth to come through Minneapolis on tour. She jumped in and killed her part in one or two takes – she’s amazing.

“We’ve been friends for a long time. I was at one of the very first Gossip shows at a Halloween house party in Olympia, WA.”

For his 2004 album The Handler, he wrote Cut Me Up together with another friend, Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O. And his new record, Dark Touches, includes a whispery rap from cult singer Adam Green, formerly of the Moldy Peaches.

He says: “Adam is my best friend. I picked him up at the airport in LA one time and had to swing by the studio. I played him the song, Game Night, and he wrote a rap for it in 20 minutes.

“It was genius – I didn’t know he had it in him, but I should’ve guessed. He can do anything.”

But Har Mar’s influence reaches beyond the underground side of the pop world.

As a songwriter, he’s written for stars like Jennifer Lopez and Kelly Osbourne.

And his new single, Tall Boy, was originally intended for Britney Spears – until her ‘people’ objected to the saucy lyrics.

“In the end it was bad timing for everyone,” he says. “She was just having her first child, so they were trying to tone it down personality-wise. I think a song about sex and drinking giant beers wasn’t good for the programme.

“I get that – I was glad to keep it. It was the impetus for me making Dark Touches.”

Released earlier this month, the album is a classic blend of R n’ B and club-friendly synth pop, produced with an army of hip collaborators. John Fields, Flowers of Doom, Boom Bip and members of The Faint all make an appearance.

He says: “The album was written all over the place, with a lot of different people. It was really fun

and super rewarding. I think it’s got more variety than past releases, so I love it for that.”

Currently touring the States, he’s on his way to the UK this weekend and will play at The Brickyard, Carlisle, on Saturday, December 5.

The tour marks something of a renaissance for the singer, who’s spent the last five years away from the limelight.

He explains he’s been making a softer pop album as alter ego Sean Na Na, as well as trying his hand at screenwriting. After making about 20 comedy shorts under the name Crappy Holidays, he’s now developing a TV series for HBO, with Juno actress Ellen Page.

“I have been steadily creating for the last 15 years,” he says. “These five just seemed dramatic because I didn’t release a proper Har Mar album.

“In truth, I didn’t feel like it, so I didn’t make one. I think a lot of bands could take my cue, instead of releasing some sort of label-obligated, uninspired throwaway.”

He’s also spent time touring the UK with Neon Neon, a concept band formed by Gruff Rhys, of the Super Furry Animals, and producer Boom Bip. Their album, Stainless Style, celebrated the DeLorean supercar from Back To The Future.

He says: “I’d known Gruff from around the way for years. They called me in, I wrote a verse and sang the hook on a song called Trick for Treat, and the rest is history.

“It was an amazing experience, getting in the room with those guys and having it turn into a lot of travelling and good times together.”

No-one’s calling Har Mar a one-trick pony, then.

And his taste in music is as varied as his work, ranging from Chaka Khan and Michael Jackson to George Harrison, Primal Scream and Wire.

But R’n’B has been a passion since he was very young, he says.

“I didn’t realise it was my calling until my early twenties,” he adds. “After boring indie rock shows I’d get the riot girls grinding each other by singing Brandy, TLC, and R Kelly songs at the after parties.

“It was apparent then that this is what I need to do.”

And as an artist, he’s in it for the long haul – inspiring whoever he can, however they see what he does.

He says: “I really love misinterpretations. I think that’s what art is all about.

“It’s always flattering when someone takes something meaningful away from something you’ve created.”

HAR MAR SUPERSTAR

The Brickyard, Carlisle, Saturday December 5

SUPPORT: Skibunny, Electronic Pimp

DOORS: Doors 8pm

TICKETS: £9 in advance from www.thebrickyardonline.com

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