Unmasking Emotions: Karen Harding Delves into the Heart of “Judge You” and “Behind The Mask”

by the partae

Can you share the inspiration behind your new single, “Judge You,” and how it fits into the narrative of your upcoming album, “Behind The Mask”?

Absolutely.. ‘Judge You’ was inspired by a project that came to be through a counselling session I was in a couple of years ago.

It was written as a conversational song from the aspect of ourselves that has a tendency for self-judgement and in recognising the intention of the response to protect us from external judgement from others.

While this song was deeply personal for me, the experience of being overtaken by self-judgement is a feeling that so many people know and understand first-hand, and I feel that it’s a song and message that has a potential to help some that may be feeling a little overwhelmed in this area.

The songs in ‘Behind The Mask’ have been written over the last couple of years and come from a place of deeply introspective reflection.. it’s stripping the mask back and revealing the rawness that lies behind. ‘Judge You’ is a song that does exactly this and will give you a taster of what’s to come.

“Judge You” explores the theme of self-judgment. How did your personal experiences or observations influence the creation of this song?

Self-judgement has been a part of my life as long as I can remember. I have always been very hard on myself and had very high expectations of myself.

As I have grown up, more and more I have seen truly how much having these expectations and judgements can hold you back from being your best self, experiencing your best life and really connecting with people.

Life is messy and we have this illusion of a perfection, that in reality, doesn’t truly exist.

It was through exploring this concept that the song evolved and came to life.

Could you elaborate on the paradoxical nature of self-judgment that you explore in “Judge You” and how it relates to individual growth?

The concept by the paradox of self judgement in this track, is that while judging yourself can be harmful, the intention behind judging yourself is a protective mechanism, designed to reduce the below from perceived judgement from others.

When we realise this, we are able to appreciate the good intention behind the act and as we recognise the complete mechanism, we can learn to move past this and find new ways to view ourselves in the world.

Your music is often described as emotionally powerful. How do you ensure that emotion translates effectively from your personal experiences into your songwriting?

Music for me, comes from a very emotional place and the inspiration often comes from how I am feeling and as a way to express what I am feeling.

I feel like when you come from this place authentically, the emotion spills into the song without the need to consciously add it in.

When I write music, I’m writing it for me.. in that moment.

What role did your collaborative partner, Daniel Nieberg, play in shaping the instrumental atmosphere of “Judge You,” and how did it contribute to the song’s emotional depth?

Daniel brought the track to life!

I had created the track on a phone recording with me playing piano and singing. The song had been sitting on my phone for a couple of years.

When I shared the track with Daniel, he was able to see the intention behind it, and truly breathe life into it.

“Judge You” is said to draw listeners into an inward reflection. How do you balance creating music that is introspective while still resonating with a broad audience?

I think that when you create from an authentic place, you don’t need to focus on reaching a broad audience.. the music reaches who it needs to reach and they will feel the resonance within their own lives.

In what ways do you see music as a tool for self-exploration and therapeutic expression, especially in the context of your upcoming album?

Music has a way of helping you explore in a whole different light and see things in new ways.

The process of writing and developing these songs has helped me to reflect on my own journey. The way the songs all come together tell a story of a journey, that I feel my listeners will really connect with and I’m really excited to share the full album with them.

Your debut single, “I Didn’t Realise,” was released in 2021. How do you feel your music has evolved since then, particularly with the upcoming release of “Behind The Mask”?

It has evolved so much!!

In terms of technical development of music, and new ways of creating, I have developed a huge amount over the last 3 years.

The place where my music comes from remains the same, but the quality of what I’m producing has definitely developed a lot!

Winning the Bendigo Bank-sponsored Radio Eastern Songwriter Talent Show and being nominated for various awards, including the World Songwriting Awards and Crags Radio Independent Artist Awards, are significant achievements. How do these accolades impact your approach to your music career?

It was really lovely to be nominated and awarded for the above, and it definitely makes you feel good that people are connecting with your music.

Overall, I don’t feel like they change my approach to music in any way, but they do tell me I’m moving in the right direction.

As a Melbourne-based artist, how has the local music scene influenced your sound and creative process?

I am so lucky to live in a city that opens the experience up for live music and independent music exposure.

The opportunity of growing up in this environment has definitely helped my expression and creativity grow.

I have had the opportunity to experience so many different styles of music and artists and it helps you to realise where you want to be within that space.

Can you give us some insight into your songwriting process, particularly when it comes to tackling emotionally heavy themes like those found in “Judge You”?

The process around ‘Judge You’ began after a counselling session where it was suggested to try putting this concept into a song.

I sat at my piano and began to play a tune which felt right for the emotion I was feeling. I then hit the record button on my phone recording app and recorded what flowed out.

After listening back, I made a few fine tunes and wrote down the lyrics and then the track sat on my phone, untouched for a couple of years.. until now!

With “Judge You” set to release soon, what do you hope listeners take away from the song and your upcoming album, “Behind The Mask”?

Ultimately, my hope is that people connect with the song and the other songs from the upcoming album.. that the tracks can help them to gain some clarity or understanding of their own feelings and experiences in some way.


Twitter – @karenhardingmus


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