Kiwi singer/songwriter Hannah Harding, better known by her nom de plume, Aldous Harding, first drew praise for the gothic indie folk and stark emotionality of her 2015 debut that brought about comparisons to both Kate Bush and Scott Walker. Later outings like Party (2017) and Designer (2019) adopted a more off-kilter indie pop approach that evoked names like Cate Le Bon and Nico.
Harding grew up in the town of Lyttelton near Christchurch in New Zealand to musician parents. Her mother was folk singer Lorina Harding, and it was on her Tui Farm Folk Festival-winning record Clean Break that the 13-year-old Harding made her recording debut. Despite this early foray into the music business, the young Harding had no interest in pursuing a career as a musician, believing it to be a precarious existence. Just a couple years later, she began to let go of her dreams of becoming a vet when she started singing and writing songs alongside friend and fellow musician Nadia Reid. By 2008, she was performing backup vocals for the traveling string band the Eastern, and she got an early break when she was spotted busking by Anika Moa who, on the basis of that performance, invited the young musician to open for her at her show that same night.
In 2012, Harding changed her first name to Aldous and asked Marlon Williams and Ben Edwards to co-produce what would become her debut record. The self-titled release garnered much critical acclaim, and Harding toured extensively behind the album. For her follow-up, she signed to British independent label 4AD, and enlisted the help of John Parish (Sparklehorse, PJ Harvey) to co-produce the record. Her sophomore album, Party, which was nominated for Album of the Year at that year's New Zealand Music Awards, was released in 2017. After completing a 100-date tour in support of the LP, Harding headed back into the studio with Party producer John Parish to begin laying down tracks for her third full-length effort. The resulting Designer was released in April 2019. ~ Bekki Bemrose