Class Actress getting set to embrace a new scene
Elizabeth Harper didn’t pull the name of her musical project, Class Actress, out of a hat. Unlike those who choose monikers that don’t seem to have any particular relevance to the art or the artist (we’re looking at you, Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs), Harper picked one that reflects who she is, or at least who she was.
“I always wanted to be an actress,” the singer says, reached in the midst of a nine-hour drive from Class Actress’s home base of Brooklyn to Raleigh, North Carolina. “It was sort of like a childhood dream. I went to school for acting, and then I was an actress. And then, I don’t know—I discovered music and everything changed. I just invented my own character, rather than having to wait around to get cast in one.”
When she’s asked to define exactly who or what that character is, Harper doesn’t have a clear answer. “It’s just an exaggeration of my imagination, and who I really am,” she offers. “You know, when you’re just sort of inventing yourself in a way that, like, you put yourself in a movie, in a character.”
You can see Harper inhabit this heightened version of herself in Class Actress’s videos, each of which features her canoodling with a different attractive man. The slick clip for “Bienvenue”, for example, depicts her in an imagined romance in an idealized City of Light, complete with a rooftop fashion shoot and much romantic cavorting through the glistening Parisian night.
The song, a high point on Class Actress’s debut LP, Rapprocher, sets Harper’s swooning vocals above a driving bass line and a bed of shimmering synthesizer tones. The rest of the album largely follows suit, with the singer and her bandmates, producer-keyboardists Scott Rosenthal and Mark Richardson, creating accessible dance pop that wouldn’t have sounded out of place alongside the Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, and the Human League in a new-wave-era nightclub.
But Rapprocher came out almost a year ago, and Harper says Class Actress has new material in the works, noting that she and her colleagues have no intention of repeating themselves. Which means moving out of New Romantic turf and into… Well, who knows? Not Harper: “The music is definitely going to be changed up, that’s for sure. I think it’s a journey of self-discovery, because things are changing as we’ve been recording them. I can’t stop making pop. That’s just in my blood. But it could get weird. It could get dark.”
Or it just might get downright nasty.
“I definitely think that we’re moving out of the early ’80s and into the late ’80s and the ’90s,” Harper says. “I can say that for sure; using a few different synths and taking it more to a Janet Jackson realm. We’ve been listening to a lot of Janet.”
Class Actress plays Venue on Friday (September 14).