Corey Harper makes alternative pop/rock music for the head, the heart, and the hips.
It’s a genre-fluid sound created by a 20something songwriter who’s spent the past decade in a creative whirl, working alongside everyone from Justin Bieber to Noah Kahan. He highlights that versatility once again with his full-length debut, Future Tense, which chronicles the decline of a crumbling relationship throughout 10 original songs. Broad, bold, and intimately self-reflective, Future Tense showcases the full range of Harper’s abilities — the top-shelf guitar skills; the honeyed, husky vocals; the melody-driven songwriting that’s turned tracks like “On the Run” into viral hits — while expanding far beyond the scope of acclaimed EPs like 2020’s Overcast.
“I spent seven years experimenting with genres, figuring out what my own sound really is,” says Harper, who launched his career as a member of L.A.’s folk circle before widening his reach to include indie influences, pop hooks, and amplified rock & roll. “Future Tense is my answer to that. It’s the artistic statement I’ve been working toward.”
Raised in Vancouver, Washington, Harper grew up beneath the lush, rain-soaked skies of the Pacific Northwest. He was drawn to music that felt similarly atmospheric, starting with classic craftsmen like Jackson Browne and James Taylor and later expanding to include Dominic Fike, Phoebe Bridgers, and other innovators. As a Gen Z songwriter with timeless tastes — someone who grew up listening not only to his parents’ record collection, but also to the genre-bending sounds of digital playlists — it only made sense to create music that blurred the lines between genre and generation.
Moving to Los Angeles at a young age, he found a diverse audience with EPs like Overcast and 2016’s On the Run. Rolling Stone praised him as “John Mayer’s breezier fraternal twin,” while artists like Justin Bieber, Cody Simpson, and Julia Michaels all chose him as their opening act. When the Covid-19 pandemic brought his touring schedule to a halt, though, Harper found himself stuck at home, searching for new ways to maintain his creative momentum. Meanwhile, his relationship with his longtime romantic partner was in a death spiral.
“Most of the songs are about the knowledge that something is coming to an end,” he explains. “I wrote most of the album while my ex and I were still together, but I knew where the relationship was going. I knew we’d split up.”
A colorful album about dark times, Future Tense marks Corey Harper’s first collaboration with Alex Salibian, the acclaimed producer and co-writer known for his work with Harry Styles, The Head and the Heart, and Young the Giant. The two friends met in September 2020 and quickly recorded “Villain of Your Story,” a cinematic indie anthem that makes room for pounding percussion and overdriven guitars. For Harper, it felt like a breakthrough. “I was in a relationship that needed to end, and I was having trouble writing songs about it,” he remembers. “It’s hard to speak your mind when you know those words will change everything about your situation. There’s a lot of sorrow, self-reflection, and disappointment in ‘Villain of Your Story,’ but the song feels upbeat, too. We were listening to artists like Nirvana and Tom Petty. The distortion we used reminds me of Kurt Cobain, and I love the balance between those sounds.”
“Balance” became the operative word as Harper started splitting his time between Los Angeles and his childhood home. Joined by Salibian and co-producer Ethan Schneiderman, he booked an ongoing series of recording sessions at a studio in Santa Monica. “The room had a natural, earthy sound,” says Harper, who recorded many of the songs live, capturing the organic sounds of a full band. Just one year earlier, he had recorded Overcast in a markedly different way, playing most of the instruments himself and finishing the entire project in two weeks. This was different. Harper worked on Future Tense for the better part of two years, stepping away from the project multiple times to clear his head, even taking a three-month sabbatical to England before finishing the record in early 2022. Overcast had been an experiment — a record that was written and recorded in a creative rush, highlighting Harper’s musical instincts along the way. Future Tense was purposeful, polished, and deliberate. It wasn’t just about instinct; it was about intent.
Future Tense‘s songs are as diverse as the musician who wrote them. On the self-produced “2 Tickets,” Harper pours digital grooves, ’80s synthesizers, and a glittering pop melody into an escapist storyline about trading the day-to-day doldrums for an impromptu trip to France. He leaps into his falsetto for the chorus of “Pink Razor,” a breakup ballad that matches heartbroken lyrics with hard-hitting hooks, then coats his acoustic guitar chords with jet trails of reverb on the emotive “Vulnerable in the Sky.” The album comes to a gorgeous close with the lushly-layered “This Side of Me” and the minimalist “Future Tense,” two songs about the hard realizations that come with an even harder breakup.
Since launching his career at 20 years old, Corey Harper has given audiences a peek into his life, writing honest, heart-on-sleeve pop songs about the loves and losses of early adulthood. Future Tense unfolds like his personal coming-of-age soundtrack, stocked with songs that weave personal details into universal themes. “It’s an incredibly fulfilling experience to listen to my first album project in its final form after two years of meticulous work with some brilliant collaborators,” he says. “It really expresses a season of life that I know many people will relate to in such an honest way, both lyrically and sonically.”www.coreyharpermusic.com/