Mary Lattimore on Exploring Harp, Writing Instrumentals with Emotion and Life in L.A.

Mary Lattimore on Exploring Harp, Writing Instrumentals with Emotion and Life in L.A.
Photo: Sarah Cooper
It's safe to say that Hundreds of Days is a departure for Mary Lattimore, both figuratively and literally. This third LP finds the classically trained harpist expanding her craft — incorporating hazy layers of guitar, synth and wordless vocals into her brand of serene harp plucking. Yet Hundreds of Days was also heavily influenced by Lattimore's departure from her longtime home of Philadelphia.
 
After being awarded a summer residency at the Headlands Centre for the Arts in San Franciso, Lattimore moved into a community of old military buildings with 14 other artists, giving her an opportunity to concurrently process feelings around her recent move to Los Angeles, as well as to move forward with the recording of her next album.
 
"They gave us a place to live in this beautiful dramatic setting," she tells Exclaim! "It's a very isolated place, so I got to really hunker down and work on some new songs. I brought all the instruments I had — a lot of them I really didn't know how to play — so that was kind of an opportunity to mess around with things like the Theremin and some synths and guitar. I got to experiment with these new elements, to see how they went together with the harp. This [album] is kind of a souvenir of that residency."
 
Although Lattimore was surrounded by other artists, she spent a large portion of her sojourn alone, giving her ample time to reflect on her recent life changes. "It was all part of my learning to love California and trying to move past my life in Philadelphia."
 
Over seven tracks and 60 minutes, Lattimore allows layers of instrumentation to ebb and flow beneath her meditative harp playing, providing the listener with a mood-infused collection of dreamy instrumentals that happen to be based upon real life events and feelings.
 
"I always have an idea in my head that's not musical," explains Lattimore. "It's always more than just wanting to play the note; it's like trying to paint a picture, but like a diary."
 
Although Lattimore constructed Hundreds of Days through very specific emotional and tactile circumstances, she wants the listener to interpret these songs through their own personal lens. "Somebody can listen to it and take that to any place if they want. It could be about love to me, but for someone else, it could be about landscapes or meditating or something like that."
 
Hundreds of Days is out now on Ghostly International.