By Tyler Klinkhammer
CALGARY — Sean Tillman, better known by his stage name Har Mar Superstar, is a man whose reputation precedes him.
His energetic, outlandish, and often half-nude performances have earned him a status as a sex-obsessed love machine, not to mention his song content. Swinging from one genre to the next, Tillman’s eclectic, often sexually charged albums offer a taste of a number of different styles ranging from R&B, funk and soul to synth-pop and hip hop.
Starting out, Tillman says his onstage persona came about organically. “I guess I kind of thought about it,” he says. “I didn’t really sit around and calculate it. Once I got up on stage and I could be a little more larger than life, I just had so much fun with that I could just kind of do whatever I wanted on stage and act however I wanted.”
“It was a bit more shock and awe at one point, but now it’s a bit more just like an earned confidence that I had. It’s not so much of a ‘put on’ anymore it’s more just me being myself.”
Tillman credits some of his early career success to his performance. “For years I think people in other bands really loved me. I was more of a musician’s musician, and you know the word spread that way, and that’s how I ended up on a lot of crazy bigger tours,” Tillman says. “Other people not in the industry kind of caught on when I made the Bye Bye 17 record. The reaction was always kind of confrontational, and I love that. Now it’s just more of a genuine give and take.”
Bye Bye 17 is the second most recent album by Har Mar Superstar, and one of his most successful. Bye Bye 17 was the first album that was created in partnership with Cult Records, the Strokes frontman Julian Casablancas’ record label. Many considered Bye Bye 17 to be Har Mar Superstar’s first “serious” album, and while it is a more sincere exploration of the funk and soul genres, it manages to keep the laid-back, casual vibe that is consistent through all of Tillman’s work.
Casablancas is the credited producer on Har Mar Superstar’s latest album, Best Summer Ever that debuted April 15. “He’s kind of an unstoppable force,” Tillman says. “He’s full of so many good ideas. I’m glad we got to really closely work on a record together.”
“I think it’s my favourite record that I’ve made,” he says. “After I wrote a bunch of the demos and got everything together song-wise, we decided to produce it as my greatest hits from the 1950s and 1985 sort of thing. We kind of went all over the place as far as sounds and vibes of the songs went. It’s kind of a scattered, all-over-the-place compilation.”
Har Mar Superstar performs in Vancouver at the Cobalt on May 6th, in Calgary at the Palomino on May 7th and in Edmonton at the Needle on May 8th.AB, Alberta, BC, British Columbia, Cobalt, Har Mar Superstar, Palomino, Sean Tillman, The Needle