• Questions: Wedding music with Hark the Heart
    Feb 01

    HarktheHeart-Logo

    Hark the Heart is comprised of musicians and real-life couple Lydia Monzo and Rosanna Stevens. Through acoustic sets using voice, cello, guitar and simple percussion, the duo are dedicated to providing a unique and warm musical atmosphere, to complement any wedding, party, or celebration.

    We chatted about musical performances, wedding ceremonies, and what it’s like to provide the soundtrack for the most important day of many people’s lives.

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    Rosanna, left, and Lydia performing in the woods. Photo credit: Adam McGrath H Creations Photography.

    Which came first – Were you a couple who decided to work together? Or were you working together and a relationship blossomed from there?

    Lydia: I think, in some ways, we were working together from the start; we were building this relationship that was always going to bleed into our creative lives because music is so intrinsic to our individual personalities, and bringing that together always made sense from the start. But no, the relationship definitely came first.

    Rosanna: The first time I ever saw Lydia I walked into a bar and she was performing on stage with her guitar. I thought to myself, Yep, that girl. She’s it. So a lot of my immediate pull to her was through music. There was always a plan for us to make music together: we wrote songs for each other and performed covers and new material around the house all the time. But it wasn’t until somebody said, ‘You two! Aren’t you supposed to make music together? Play at our wedding!’ that we realized we had been putting off something we had wanted to do for far too long.

    How long have you been performing together?

    L: Perhaps this is a good example of my response to the last question: we’ve been performing together, for our Maltese poodle, from day one of our relationship four years ago – he even has a theme song! With harmonies and percussion! But with Hark the Heart, it’s been just over a year.

    When did you perform your first wedding together?

    L: Midway through 2014, and a friend asked us to perform for her wedding. We’d always imagined playing together and had thrown the wedding singing idea around before. So it seemed like a no-brainer. The wedding was really casual, in a pine forest near our house, but I think we took it to another level, became really obsessed with setting the scene and producing a real ambiance with our unique sound. The bride was overjoyed and amazed! I don’t think she expected us to take it so seriously. We knew from that point that this was something we should pursue.

    R: Because the whole wedding was small and set in this forest, they arranged a picnic after the ceremony, and photos in between among the trees, so we just kept playing: we played while they had photos, and while they enjoyed their feast. To me that was the most memorable part – providing this backdrop that made the experience feel as seamless as a movie for them.

    Can you share an extra special wedding experience? Maybe a couple that chose unique music, a unique location or a moving ceremony …

    R: We’re based in Australia, and as you know, at the moment same sex marriages aren’t legalized here. You can have a civil union. But what a lot of people don’t know is that one particular territory in Australia tried to create a loophole in the law which allowed same sex marriages, and while the Australian government was trying to block the loophole, there was this window of literally three days where it was legal for same sex couples to get married in this particular territory, where we happen to live.

    Our friends eight hours to get married and had a guerilla wedding inside this cave-like water sculpture that only fit ten people at the National Gallery of Australia. They sewed their own dresses. There are no words for how moving the ceremony was for us, what it represented. And on top of that, at a musical level, the acoustics in the water-cave were echoic and unbelievable.

    What’s your favorite music to perform at weddings?

    R: Alt pop, folk, anything that I can play with in terms of harmonies. I’m also a big nerd: I love it when I have the opportunity to play classical music as people are settling into the ceremony venue. There are so few places outside of the stage, and the idea of what classical music is (removed from popular society, stuffy, classist, white male etc.) where you can bring the music of the classical world out and transform it. At weddings, you have this beautiful opportunity to add atmosphere and share the diversity of classical music and people aren’t just sitting down and listening – they are invited to participate in the music by chatting and laughing and celebrating love.

    L: I like new takes on sentimental tunes. By that I mean a song that the couple has chosen, that is really special to them and might not be necessarily significant to others as an obvious love song. Then we get to work with the couple and hopefully surprise them with a really unique cover of this song that often represents the first time they met, or kissed, or said ‘I love you’. We even played one wedding where the request was ‘You Make My Dreams Come True – Hall & Oates’ and the reason was that the couple were watching a movie and had fallen asleep together for the first time during this song. So it meant a lot to them, it felt really special to be able to give them that song with a new perspective that was just for them.

    Any ideas on what would you want performed at your own wedding?

     L: Yes! Vintage French pop/jazz. That is something I don’t get to perform often, and I love the sounds and the moods and yeah… it’s just my jam. Rosie! I hope that is ok! Haha. Also I’d be excited not to be the one performing and just enjoying what I know a good band can provide: an atmosphere of joy.

    R: We just need to find someone who could pull it off as well as we could… but aren’t us… If you know of any one…

    What are some frequent wedding requests?

    L: It’s interesting to me that peoples’ ideas of what classifies something as a love song is really subjective. ‘The Book of Love’ by Peter Gabriel also comes up a lot. But really other than that, you’d be surprised how diverse it is. People want something that means something to them – and that is so individual.

    R: Our most frequent request – as well as my favorite – is to turn a song that is extremely unique to a particular artist, like Bob Dylan, into something for cello, guitar, and voice. We sit down, talk to the couple about their ideas for the wedding (via email or Skype), spend a few days listening to the songs they want and toying with ideas, and then we usually pick a morning to grab a coffee, open up our instrument cases, and really hash an idea out. It always seems to come together in a way where we are excited to show the wedding party what we’ve done, and we tend to keep it under wraps until the rehearsal, or the ceremony.

    Do you see a difference in the musical requests for same-sex weddings?

    R: The main difference I always notice is that same-sex couples are both really involved in the process of working with us. One person is always our first point of contact, but often both come in with ideas and excitement.

    L: A lot of requests overlap between queer and straight couples, but there are some songs that are either really straight – just the emotion in them and the concepts – or conversely really, really gay for the same reasons. Those are the ones I dig. There are certain artists who appeal more to queer couples – I’m generalizing here – but I notice that queer couples usually request less mainstream music, and I think that comes from having to seek out queer visibility in everything you do really, because it is just not represented in the mainstream yet. And I think you want a wedding to reflect yourself, and your queerness, if that is part of who you are.

    Additionally, what makes a same-sex wedding ceremony different for you as a performer?

    R: There is a level of exhilaration I can’t help feeling at same sex weddings and unions, that actually makes me more nervous about playing, and I love it! Also the wedding parties and guests are always so inevitably queer-friendly. I find that being embedded in the queer community, I sometimes forget how straight the world can be – it’s not until I’m playing straight and queer weddings, and participating in the worlds of both cultures, that I realize again and again how welcoming and proud the LGBTQIA community is.

    L: I am invested in every wedding we play, because the idea that I am giving something that I love inspires me. But I guess yes there is an extra kind of exhilarating feeling to perform at queer weddings and give to something I understand the history of, and the fight behind. It’s pretty magical actually, in the way only a queer wedding can be! Plus the gays party like it’s Pride!

    My wife and I had an acoustic version of “I Kissed a Girl” played for our ceremony recessional. It was meant to be a fun moment when everyone could exhale and get ready to celebrate. Do you have any great ideas (or stories) of how couples can add a little bit of humor or fun to their wedding music?

    R: Last year we played a ceremony in a huge cave, and the couple asked for us to Rickroll their wedding – specifically, the signing of the marriage certificate. But there was a condition. We had to *really* Rickroll the guests: we had to start singing Never Going to Give You Up in a way that disguised what the song was until it reached it’s famous chorus. People started laughing aloud when they realized what was happening. And weirdly enough, the song actually sounded pretty nice! I do feel like we were also Rickrolled in a way, though. We said yes to doing this wedding to discover we were going to learn Rick Astley’s hit, and practice it again and again, and again…

    L: I Kissed a Girl – that is a GREAT idea! I love that. I guess I would say that we definitely encourage people to have fun with their song selections because we can then build on that and grow the ideas into something really special. Theme songs can be fun too. Although not the L Word theme song… I hope nobody ever requests that! Fighting, loving, breathing… ugh!

    R: Oh, Betty. You know they released an EP last year? Still going! But also, seriously, if you wanted any Betty played at your ceremony, especially because you had a particular sentimental attachment to Season 2 of The L Word onwards because it contributed to the bedrock of your relationship in some kind of way, I totally want to hear your story and also Lydia would swallow her pride and we’d do it. If someone could come up with a reason for us to sing a Disney song, I’d flip out and dedicate my life to acing it.

    Once Australia inevitably legalizes same-sex marriage do you think you’ll focus more on performing at same-sex weddings, or are you inclusive of all couples who share your vision?

    L: I think you hit the nail on the head – what we love most is collaborating on a vision and creating something really special together. But in saying that, of course we want to strengthen our queer audience because it is extra special for us, and that won’t even change I think. So we’ll focus on being better and better at what we do.

    R: One of the great things about our job is that it’s so portable: we’re already super-dedicated to performing at same-sex weddings because we can fly anywhere to play: we love travel, and we’re familiar with New Zealand and the States particularly. And while same sex couples can only get ‘unioned’ in Australia, we know a lot of couples who have decided they can’t wait for the law and they’re getting symbolically married anyway. Or they’re getting married overseas, and having their reception back in Australia. We’re just excited at the prospect of being able to perform more on home soil, and having them properly recognized!

    L: I just wanted to add one thing. When we play a straight wedding we never hide the fact that we are a couple, I don’t think we could anyway, it shows in our collaborative performance style. But I think that’s important politically, that even at a straight wedding, in a country where same-sex people can’t legally marry, that we get to provide some queer visibility that is loving and creative and inspiring. I think that is one reason why I would always continue to play at straight weddings, until that’s just not an issue anymore.

    HarktheHeart---credit-Adam-McGrath-hcreations-photography

    Photo credit: Adam McGrath H Creations Photography.

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    Photo credit: Adam McGrath H Creations Photography.

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    Hark the Heart

    Hark the Heart are currently taking bookings for weddings and ceremonies in 2016, 2017, and 2018.
    Instagram: @harktheheart
    Website: www.harktheheart.com

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