If the video for Australian-born singer Harmony Byrne’s new single “Smoke Inside” seems dramatic, there’s a reason for that.
“As a child I was told that I was a drama queen,” the smoky-voiced Byrne, one of seven children in a Mormon family in Melbourne, tells Billboard. “Initially I mistook this as being a negative thing about my personality and struggled to express myself. But thankfully I was also taught to have self-worth, honesty, integrity and that I only ever need be myself in a world full of frauds. Slowly I realized that if I was a drama queen, then I should take pride in it and be the very best one I could be. ‘Smoke Inside’ is all about valuing who you are no matter how wild or tame and that if someone you love doesn’t let you light up inside, then they are not the match for you.”
The muscular, blues-flavored song’s manically paced video, meanwhile, was filmed at the Silver Sands Motel in upstate New York, with Byrne moving through a series of rooms as well as the beachfront exterior, representing the inner drama described in the song’s lyrics.
“Smoke Inside” hails from Byrne’s debut album, Heavy Doors, which is due out this fall and has been a long time in coming for the 27-year-old artist. “It’s only taken 10 years of farting around,” she adds with a laugh. “I’ve always known that there would be a right time to do it, I guess. It’s not that I wasn’t recording — there was just nothing I felt was ready to come out except that one song (‘Demise’) I put out a couple of years ago. But I think I’ve just known that it’s worth being patient with these really special opportunities and to take them gracefully and thankfully. I really do feel so, so thankful to have waited for this.”
Byrne’s “special” opportunity for Heavy Doors was the chance to work with producer Jim Eno of Spoon, who was a fan of “Demise” and open to solicitations to helm the project. “We were just on the prowl for a suitable producer and Jim just kept popping up in our minds as the guy, and thankfully enough we made friends with the right people who knew him,” says Byrne. “It was the best; Jim is so patient and respectful and really listens to the direction that you put forth but also offers his expertise. It was really nice to work with someone I felt really matched my passion and desire to create the best work and also just work really hard.
“I think we smashed out the record in three weeks, which for not knowing each other before that is really remarkable.”
“Smoke Inside” joins “Loving You Is Lonely,” the first song released from Heavy Doors. Byrne is looking forward to getting the other tracks as well and acknowledges that the album is turning out to be something different than she thought she’d make for her maiden musical voyage.
“At the time I started performing I was a folky singer-songwriter type, so I think people expected my first record to be kind of a solo thing,” says Byrne, who will celebrate the “Smoke Inside” video release with an event May 16 at Freehold in Brooklyn. “But there’s always been something more that I’ve wanted to portray in my songs and, just, myself. The opportunity with him came up so I took it, and hopefully people will be pleasantly surprised at what we came up with.”