The dynamic Canadian duo of Michelle Owen and Martina Lake, otherwise known as Harlette, are about to take the music world by storm.
Their debut single “Gemini” is an infectious pop/rock tune with an 80s feel that will have you dancing in your seat. Michelle and Martina have been bonding through music since Michelle joined The Glorious Sons in 2017 as their tour manager and started spending time with Martina whose partner is guitarist Jay Emmons.
It seemed inevitable that the two friends should take their writing and musical talent to the next level and thanks to an artist development company called 745 Music that Owen and Emmons formed a couple years ago, that time is now.
You recently released your debut single “Gemini” and just released a video for it. Great video, by the way. I love it. Great song. Let’s talk about the song a little bit Martina. You wrote the song, right?
Martina: Yes, yes I did.
Tell me a little bit about the story behind that.
Martina: “Gemini”, I wrote it a couple years ago and it really stemmed from the relationship that I have with my sister. I am a twin, and I’m actually not astrologically a Gemini at all. Leo for life. But I’m a twin and that’s the side of the Gemini and this kind of song is about never being alone.
I truly have never been alone for a single minute in my entire life being a twin. And then being someone who is super co-dependent on relationships and friendships and even touches on my relationship with Michelle and two faces and two sides to myself. It’s just about being really co-dependent and never having a second to myself my entire life.
How did this all start?
Michelle: In terms of songwriting, it would be 10 years ago. I just stumbled upon Steve one day and he kind of became my go-to partner in terms of songwriting and recording. And then one day I also met Jay Evans because I also worked in the music business. So I worked for him in his band at a record label and then was his tour manager.
And when we were on the road, that’s when I met Martina and it all kind of came together, serendipitously.
Then one day Martina had this song. She showed it to me a couple years ago and was like, I want you to sing this. And I was like, this is so rad. And luckily we were fortunate enough to get together last year to try it out together and it was one of those magical moments where the song just came together very easily between the four of us, we all brought our strengths to the table and that’s what you hear in the song now.
You have been dabbling with these ideas for a few years, right. But, was it the pandemic that just made everything come together, where you found you had the time and it’s like, Hey, let’s do this.
Martina: Definitely gave us the time. And especially with my partner, Jay who’s touring quite a bit at the time. So to have him home for a couple of years now, I guess it really gave Michelle and Jason some time to work on their label, which is our label 745 Music and develop that and a bunch of other artists, but it actually gave him and Michelle some time to sit down together and let Steve and I join in and just play around.
It was truly a fun project until we realized the greatness in it. Then we’re like, okay, we need to do something with this. This needs to be shared, and it birthed Harlette, which is great, and there’s no going back and we have an acoustic version of “Gemini” that’s coming up really soon that we’re excited to share. And then we have our next single ready to go as well. So lots of exciting stuff coming out soon.
Are you looking at releasing an EP or an album in the future?
Michelle: Yeah, I think that’s the goal for next spring. We still have some writing to do. We want to get back into studio and shape some of these ideas we’ve been working on, but definitely going to have an EP sometime in the spring of 2022.
Michelle, when you first met Jay, it was a competition that you were in, right?
Michelle: Well, technically I never actually met him at the competition because we never came in contact, but our bands did play against each other and we went onto very different paths after that.
How did you end up getting into the management side of it?
Michelle: Honestly, I had a very poor experience early on as a songwriter and singer where I lost ownership of my masters and it was a really hurtful and infuriating experience. So I decided that I wouldn’t move forward without learning the business side.
I ended up doing a program that was focused on entertainment business management.
I looked for an internship at a label. Then I was offered a job and the opportunities kept coming after that. So it was really hard to say no.
Before I knew it, that was the center of my life, as opposed to the singing and songwriting, which has been a little bit difficult, but I’m very grateful for all the opportunities I’ve had because now I have my own company with Jay, like Martina said, and get to do music. So it’s the best of both worlds. And I think it’s really important for any artist to understand their business and what it’s all about.
Is that kind of reflective of the business today? The way it’s shifted to streaming and that sort of thing. I mean, you pretty much have to do everything yourselves these days, unless you, win like The Voice or something like that, most people don’t get discovered like they used to.
Michelle: Yeah, for sure. I think there’s two sides of it where artists are really lucky now, because there are so many platforms that are pillars and allow artists to achieve success independently. But at the same time, if you want to work with anyone in the industry, they’re definitely looking for you to do most of the heavy lifting for them.
What was it like recording the song during the pandemic?
Martina: It was really super fun because we have an at-home studio at Jay’s place. So it was quite relaxed and we were able to come in, the four of us and dogs and all that fun stuff and just right across the hall, literally. So it was fun to be able to do it on our home turf. And like we said, it was a super like relaxed experience. We were just doing it because we believed in the song and it turned out to be this like really fantastic tune that started our inspiration for this whole thing.
You and Jay recently welcomed an addition to your family.
Martina: Yeah. Baby June, she’s six weeks old.
You’re actually eight months pregnant in the video. I had to watch the video a couple times because I didn’t find this out until after I had watched the video once. And then the second time around, it’s very obvious at one moment in the video, but I think the focus was kind of on Michelle there, but there you are with your big baby bump, prominently displayed. That’s pretty awesome.
Martina: Making maneuvers there. It was definitely a challenge rolling on a hardwood floor at eight months.
Michelle: Martina was honestly such a champ. It was a fun experience because it was a DIY video.
Jay and Steve had wind machines behind the camera, but to see her eight months pregnant and just seeing such a force still and working an eight hour day was pretty incredible to witness.
You did a live cut video as well. Who are the other members in the band? Do you actually have a band when you decided tour?
Michelle: That’s kind of an inner circle of musicians that we know from working with other artists, but our actual band is still TBD, that’s something we need to figure out in the future for shows, but we’re hoping to do some sort of super rad all-girl band.
That would be great. Absolutely the way it should go. Are there more videos coming out as well with the new music?
Martina: I believe we have it in the books for early November. We have an acoustic version, so it’s Steve, Michelle and I, and a piano.
It’s a really stripped down version of “Gemini”, but it’s super powerful, and Michelle’s voice sounds incredible next to just simple, instrumental.
It’s something really special and it’s so different than the live video or the music video that we just released. Even the radio edit itself.
But I think it’s going to have its own presence and standalone all its own, because it’s super powerful. Just wait till you hear this girl.
Michelle, you were actually told by a judge at that competition that you should give up singing. How rude is that?
Michelle: Yeah, I think for me the part that bothered me most is you can never tell someone to quit creating. That’s just such a part of being human.
But when I go back to listen to the audio from that day, I’m like, okay, I did sound like shit. So maybe some harsh criticism was warranted, but I don’t think anyone, regardless of their position in the industry has the authority to tell someone to quit, that’s just ridiculous.
You’re right. We all have our bad days. It made me think of American Idol when they would have those shows devoted to the train wrecks and everyone used to tune into that because they love seeing a train wreck, but honestly, I’m glad they don’t do it anymore because it’s horrible.
Even as bad as they are, it’s terrible to just like crush somebody’s dreams like that.
Martina: Some of those rejects had quite a nice career after.
That’s true, everybody has different tastes.