Already hobnobbing with young celebrities, playing famous venues in Los Angeles and going on tour, Corey Harper said he feels like he has made a big step with a new EP, which happened to be recorded in Wilsonville.
Harper played or programmed nearly every instrument himself, co-wrote all six songs and split production duties with Dave Lubben — who has worked with Halsey, Gnash and others — on the new EP "Overcast."
Hailing from Vancouver, Washington, and with strong Portland roots, Harper said he hopes it helps him solidify his own name in the music business.
"It's definitely a breakthrough as far as sonically; it's the first time I got to experiment on my own. I lived on a property and made music," meaning Lubben's property in Wilsonville.
"This music means a lot to me, it's the most I've felt connected to my music," he said.
The single "Entertainment" is about Harper trying to find his identity and where he belongs in the LA music scene. The song "25" is about the loss of a friend. "Fade to Black" tells the story of a relative who has struggled with drug addiction and his own personal turmoil.
Basically, "a lot of the music I write is about personal things that I go through, finding myself as an artist and finding my own voice," he said.
Channeling the sounds of John Mayer and others, Harper plays baritone guitar and sings, and he added 1980s synthesizers, pop melodies and experimental sounds to "Overcast." Songs even included the subtle sound of a pinball machine in Lubben's studio. He's inspired by electronic music, as well as acoustic folk and rock.
"We made sure we had everything in the studio," he said. "We bought a bunch of (equipment) stuff, random stuff, and put it on the record."
Harper has toured with Cody Simpson and has befriended the likes of Justin Bieber. And, Harper has been in a well-publicized relationship with Ireland Baldwin (daughter of actors Alec Baldwin and Kim Basinger).
He also has played on tour with Niall Horan, Noah Kahan and Julia Michaels, while also performing at Bonnaroo, BottleRock, Sasquatch and Ohana music festivals.
Harper has taken the stage at LA's Troubador, El Rey Theatre and Hotel Cafe.
It's a long way from Vancouver, where he attended Mountain View and Columbia River high schools. He's the son of a theology professor at Multnomah University (father Brad) and a middle school English teacher (mother Robin).
Harper has played gigs at Wonder Ballroom and Mississippi Studios in Portland, where he spent ample time in his youth.
After attending Lane Community College in Eugene for two years, Harper jetted off to Los Angeles at age 20. He now lives in Studio City.
He helped a friend start the Winston House, a house-turned-small music venue where he eventually met Bieber, who invited him to open on his Pacific Northwest "Purpose" tour concerts.
"We ended up turning it into a community of musicians," he said.
His association with Simpson and the Winston House helped him land the Creative Artists Agency (CAA) as agents.
"I'm really happy and lucky to be where I'm at musically, and I have a great team of people helping me out," Harper said. "I met a lot of people through that (Simpson) relationship. I played guitar for some people that would come through Winston House, and that's where I really started progressing and performing."
The music industry has taken notice of Harper.
Said Billboard: "Harper, a professed classic rock and soul disciple, lays down tasteful John Mayer-esque licks over a relaxed backbeat, creating plenty of space for his smoky, understated vocals."
Said Rolling Stone: "With vocals that suggest Harper as John Mayer's breezier fraternal twin, his tunes are a mix of '70s country-rock touched by Mississippi blues."
Now Harper has a new EP, his third album, and he looks forward to playing live events — when restrictions because of the COVID-19 pandemic have been lifted.
"I'm already starting to write more and record," he said. "I've been working with a couple artists on other songs, collaborating with artists on FaceTime and Zoom on writing music until we can press unpause on the touring side.
"I look forward to going out and playing music."