Young At Harp
By Liquid Todd
If you’re looking for a harp-slinging songwriter who isn’t afraid to create moody, gorgeous alt-tronica then Pat Grossi—professionally known as Active Child—is your man. The 28-year-old New Jersey native has been working hard to live up to his name; touring the world to promote his debut album All I See Is You. Maybe it’s because his music is so ethereal and groovy, but he’s proved to be a very popular opening act—playing with bands like M83, School of Seven Bells, James Blake and White Rabbits, to name but a few.
Although Grossi wrote all of the songs on All I See Is You himself, he prefers to perform live with two other musicians. The Weekly sat down with Active Child—who is scheduled to perform at The Glass House in Pomona April 27—to discuss music, touring and the finer points of traveling the world with an electric harp.
Isn’t everybody doing the harp thing these days? Do you rent or do you bring your own?
I bring my own. It’s a small, kind of travel-size harp. It’s my carry-on harp.
Wait, does it actually fit in an overhead compartment?
(Laughs) No. It’s good though. It’s got a pretty good sound for it’s size.
Seriously though, you don’t see a lot of guys rocking the harp nowadays.
No, it’s rare. Maybe I’m setting a trend I don’t know.
What have you been up to lately?
[We] did a big U.S. headline tour. We just got back from Iceland and Norway and London and we toured with M83 for about a month. And we just keep hitting it. We went to Japan in December . . .
Dude, you’re supposed to go to Japan after you’ve hit your peak and your career is circling the drain.
(Laughs) Yeah, it’s beautiful, man. It’s a beautiful thing to be able to play my music and get to see new places and meet new people, you know?
So, tell me about your live show.
Well, there[’re] three of us. I’ve got a drummer, Brian Rhodes, who plays drums and percussion and who is triggering live samples. And then I’ve got another friend, Stratton, who plays bass and keyboards and sings. I write all the music and then they help me kind of flesh it out live and make it come to life a little bit.
I think it’s way cooler to have some live musicians up there instead of just a guy with a laptop . . . and a harp, of course.
Yeah, you need some energy up there. It’s a big sound and I don’t want it to feel . . . inauthentic.
How do you mic a harp anyway? Is that a lost art?
Well, I’ve got a pickup in mine so I can just plug it straight in.
You’ve got an electric harp?
That’s awesome. Did you make it?
I did. I installed the pickup myself and it was a nerve-wracking moment drilling a hole in my harp.
I bet. You drilled it yourself?
It wasn’t that difficult. It was just one quick drill hole and you’re, like, errrwww.
It takes a steady hand, my friend. Are you planning on releasing any bootlegs or b-sides for the fans?
Yeah, as soon as people start to digest the album they’re going to want something new.