By Yzzy Arias, March 23, 2021
Cal Poly Pomona alumnus Jason Harland (‘18, public relations) is a solo artist orchestrating his music career from his bedroom where he writes, composes and produces songs.
His latest single, “No Thanks” — which he describes as his best release to date — launched on all mainstream streaming platforms earlier this year.
According to Harland, one of the most important tasks before launching the single was to evaluate how to promote his music. After a couple of brainstorming sessions, he created a to-do list consisting of various promotional strategies, from video production and photoshoots to creating a Tik Tok account.
Harland credited his previous single, “This Tragic Life,” released last September as a valuable learning experience because he believes it was his “worst release” process.
“I think I released it at a time where things were funky and I think people did not want to hear a song with the word tragic, but it’s actually an uplifting song,” said Harland. “I think the title scared people away. I learned from that and knew that not everybody is going to like everything, so how do I go about it the next time?”
He believes that his preparation and prior experiences are what made “No Thanks” his most successful release.
“I took a pause (from music) during my last years of college because I really needed to graduate,” said Harland. “After I graduated, I started doing more of a solo thing, which is what everybody hears now.”
As a full-time musician, Harland shared that he applies skills he developed at CPP to promote his work.
“At CPP, I learned a lot about marketing,” said Harland. “It comes in handy for me because there is a lot of persuasions involved and you have to say a lot of the same things in different ways to make people listen to your music. You have to pitch a lifestyle or personality rather than an actual product.”
When he first released music in 2019, his primary styles were disco and funk and drew inspiration from Prince, James Brown and Bruno Mars. Nowadays, his music is inspired by David Bowie and Tom Petty with ‘80s synthesizers, keyboards and heartland rock. His latest music style can be heard in his 2020 EP, “Wild Heart.”
Harland’s past employment in the entertainment industry has also prepared him for his music career.
Throughout college and up until 2019, Harland worked at the Disney Parks in California as parade support, where he staged and ensured that the floats were show-ready before the parades.
Eventually, he auditioned to be a performer in the parades and was accepted to play roles as a jumping stilt performer for the Pixar Play Parade, a skier for the Christmas Fantasy Parade and a canopy carrier in the Electro Parade. Through his performances, he was able to adopt different personalities to see what audience members reacted to and how to attract their attention with so many things going on.
After Disneyland, he worked at The Queen Mary in Long Beach, California, as an event producer where he designed concerts, organized parties and interacted with the performers regarding their lighting and sound setups.
Although he received the opportunity to host his own event in May, it was canceled when the pandemic forced The Queen Mary Hotel to temporarily pause its guided tours and events.
“I’ve learned a lot from Disney and through the Queen Mary on how to perfect my craft and how to strive to keep perfecting my craft as a showman,” said Harland. “I’ve written and produced my own songs. Everything that you hear in my songs is 100% me. I wrote that part. I performed that part. I recorded it.”
From a young age, Harland always dreamed of becoming a rock star. Growing up in La Verne, California, he made friends with locals who played instruments and formed garage bands together. In high school, he described himself as a “choir nerd” who wrote music.
He originally enrolled in college as a music major to become a choir instructor, but entering college shortly after the 2008 recession, Harland was discouraged by other choir instructors to pursue the career path and decided not to follow through.
Although he changed his major, he persistently continued to perform in bands and wrote songs for other artists before launching his own music career.
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