Harper Starling is a rising star and a #1 Billboard artist who has Tourette’s Syndrome.
She learned that music is the best medicine. Literally. Harper shares her journey in the interview below.
Thank you so much for joining us! Let’s show everyone you’re a normal human being. What are your hobbies, favorite places to visit, pet peeves? Tell us about YOU when you’re not at the office.
“Well, my favorite hobbies are dancing, reading, painting, and playing tennis. I’m also very into history, especially ancient Egyptian, so I love to visit museums. I also love to go for walks and, since I’m in Los Angeles, I go hiking a lot. The scenery up on the hills is gorgeous. I’m originally from Milwaukee which is flat lands and corn fields galore. I also like to go to the library whenever possible. I especially love going through the rare books.
“My two biggest pet peeves are snoring and slurping soup. I’m a very light sleeper so if anyone is snoring too loudly I wake up. I always have to have my iPod on hand in case I can’t fall back asleep.”
Can you tell us something about you that few people know?
“Many don’t know that I took sign language for over two years at college and am pretty fluent in it. I am also very into the 80s, unicorns, anime, and manga. Because of my love for anime, I can speak a little bit of Japanese… only certain phrases though. I also enjoy watching TV and my two favorite channels are Turner Classic Movies (the Golden Age of Hollywood) and MTV. Polar opposites. I am a very eclectic person.”
Do you have any exciting projects going on right now?
“I have a new single coming out soon called “One Call Away” that I co-wrote with Carlos Battey, who has written for Justin Bieber, Madonna, David Guetta, and many more. I can’t wait for everyone to hear it. There are definitely some tropical and urban undertones to the song. It’s perfect for summer.”
Many people say success correlates with the people you meet in your life. Can you describe two that most impacted your success and why.
“The two people who have impacted me the most are my parents. I have been truly blessed with supportive and loving parents. They’ve instilled hard-work ethics in me and made me into the woman I am today. They have believed in my dreams and are the biggest supporters of my music. Since I was three, they have gone to every dance recital, musical, play, or gig that I performed. They are the best and I love them so much.”
Leaders always seem to find ways to overcome their weaknesses. Can you share one or two examples of how you work outside of your comfort zone to achieve success?
“The only way we can grow and succeed is by leaving our comfort zones. The first drastic change I made was when I decided to drop my graduate degree in physical therapy to pursue a music career full-time. There is nothing guaranteed in the music industry. I had a long and hard road to go down and a lot of rejection waiting. Still, I could not see myself doing anything else, so I decided to take a leap of faith and go for it.
“The other drastic time I left my comfort zone was when I moved from Milwaukee (where I had lived all my life) to Los Angeles. From the moment I decided to pursue a career in music I knew that I would eventually move away from Wisconsin. Even though I anticipated that, it still was one of the hardest things I have done in my life. I didn’t know anyone in Los Angeles. I had no family and no friends.
“I am also introverted (when not on stage) so I knew making friends and socializing was going to be difficult for me. Even though moving was difficult, it was the best decision I made to progress in my music career. Now I have met so many wonderful people out here who have helped me grow as an artist and who I am happy to call my friends.”
The concept of mind over matter has been around for years. A contemporary description of this is having mental toughness. Can you give us an example (or two) of obstacles you’ve overcome by getting your mind in the right place (some might call this reframing the situation)?
“A perfect example of this is ignoring comments on social media. Not everyone is going to like you. Don’t let a comment that took someone three seconds to type affect how the next 24 hours or more of your life will be. Be happy with who you are; that is what matters most.
“That is something I had to learn after putting out my single Euphoria. Even though Euphoria received a lot of praise and went on to #1 on the Billboard Dance Club Songs Chart, there were still a few hurtful comments on YouTube about the song. I had to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion and I was proud of the work I put out. As long as I was proud and put my best foot forward with my music, that is what mattered most.”
What are your “3 Lessons I Learned from My Most Memorable Failure”
“One, everything is a learning opportunity (even when you fail). Two, it is acceptable to fail; everyone will at some point or another. And three, failure instills courage. The worst has already happened, and you survived through it. Now you are a little tougher and a little wiser.”
What unfiltered advice can you give aspiring stars regarding how to avoid common mis-fires in starting their career?
“The best advice I can give is that you need to accept that you don’t know everything. Be receptive to the advice given from those experienced in your aspiring field. The majority of the time they want to help you. Everyone has weaknesses and that’s ok.
“I would also say to remember the golden rule: treat others as you would like to be treated. A positive attitude goes a long way in this business. Treat others with kindness and respect.”
What is the best lesson you learned from your worst boss?
“The best lesson I learned was the importance of communication. In order for things to run smoothly, everyone within a team needs to be on the same page. If there is an issue that is upsetting you or you are unsure of how to approach a task, etc., be sure to communicate that. You must learn to be clear, concise, and willing to negotiate.”
What is one “efficiency hack” you use consistently in your life to keep your time and mind free to focus on your strengths and passions?
“I wouldn’t consider it a hack per se, but I have found that taking a few minutes every day (even if it’s just five minutes) to meditate helps to give clarity and peace of mind. I think we tend to get caught up in all the stress of the day and the negativity behind that is very draining. By taking a few minutes to yourself and clearing your mind, you can refocus on what is important and in turn, give yourself energy towards things you want to accomplish.”
All actors or musicians have sleepless nights. We have a term we use with our clients called the “2 a.m. moment.” It’s when you’re wide awake and thinking not-so-positive thoughts about your business choices and future. Can you describe a 2 a.m. moment (or moments) you’ve had and how you overcame the challenges?
“Once I finally made the decision to pursue music full-time, I went to a music conference in Milwaukee (where I grew up). Lots of industry executives were going to be there as well as fellow musicians. I had a full-on panic attack the night before the conference started. In my head, I thought I wasn’t experienced or worthy of being there and I put all this unnecessary pressure on myself. I panicked with how far I still had to go to fulfill my dreams and was suddenly unsure if I would ever get there.
“That morning, I talked to my sister who helped me understand that everyone has to start at the beginning and just because that’s where I was at the moment, didn’t mean I was always going to be there. Once I heard that I calmed down and was able to enjoy the rest of the conference.”
Nobody likes to fail, and we sure don’t like to admit we failed. Can you describe a moment when you confided your most closely-held business issues/problems to someone close to you, and how the conversation(s) helped you work through the issue?
“When I made the move to Los Angeles, I knew that my music was going to go in a different direction than what I was doing in Milwaukee. I knew that everything was going to get a makeover and I was unsure of what that was going to turn in to.
“After talking to my best friend, she told me to trust myself and follow what my gut was telling me. This helped give me clarity into what I wanted as an artist and I was able to clearly communicate that to my team. Always trust in yourself and your talent.”
What’s on the drawing board for your next venture?
“Besides having the new single One Call Away coming out, I am working on an EP that I will be releasing later on (with details to follow soon).”
What did we miss? Feel free to share any other thoughts or advice on overcoming failure, initiatives you’re currently supporting, any other relevant information you would like to share with the readers.
“Some readers may not be aware that I have been diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome, which I have had since I was eight. It terrified me as a kid because I had no control over my body and the tics were quite severe. At first I felt like a freak because no one else was acting the same way I was. I was embarrassed and only wanted to blend in and become a ‘wallflower’.
“I then discovered that dancing and singing made the tics go away. Because of that, I immersed myself in anything relating to music. Over time I realized that my tics made me unique and they are the reason I am able to do what I love today. I am saying all this because I want the readers to know that it is ok to feel different and out of the ordinary because that quirk could be just the thing that leads you to your dream one day.”
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
For more details about upcoming shows and releases, visit my website at www.HarperStarling.com. You can also follow me on Instagram and Twitter @harperstarling and Facebook @harperstarlingmusic.
This was really awesome! Thank you so much for joining us!
Absolutely! Thank you so much for having me. Sparkle on everyone.
Originally published at medium.com