HARLOE, songwriter for pop faves, is a rising star in her own right

Jon Ali is In The Know’s music contributor. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram for more.

Stop “Overthinking” it: It’s a songwriter’s world, and we’re just living in it…

The songwriter in question? Jessica Ashley Karpov — aka HARLOE.

You may know her as the stunning voice on “All This Love,” the mega-hit by Robin Schulz with over 100 million streams and counting. 

Or, if you’re one to dig a little deeper into the pop-sphere, then you also know her as the singer-songwriter-producer who has penned many tracks for our favorite pop stars, like Charli XCX (“Secret (Shh)”), Sabrina Claudio (“As Long as You’re Asleep”), Celine Dion (“The Hard Way”) and the legendary Miss Britney Spears (“Love Me Down”). She collaborated heavily with Kelly Clarkson on her album Meaning of Life, on which she co-wrote and co-produced several songs, earning her one of her first of many Grammy nominations.

As is the case for plenty of other high-profile songwriters — from Keri Hilson to Bonnie McKee and Julia Michaels — it isn’t fulfilling enough to just write for others. Some songs are simply too personal to give away, and HARLOE has plenty of her own stories to share.

Growing up in Queens, N.Y., HARLOE was heavily influenced by her first-generation immigrant parents’ records, New York buskers and the latest smashes from her favorite hip-hop stars. In fact, she aspired to be a musician herself and took matters into her own hands years later when she started posting videos of herself on YouTube. Now based in Los Angeles, the self-made recording artist continues to make waves one release at a time.

In 2020, HARLOE released her debut EP, Rivers Run Dry, to critical acclaim. The EP includes favorite tracks like “Crush On You” and “One More Chance,” highlighting HARLOE’s transformative path with themes of love, loss, reflection and renewal following the end of a relationship. Its intimate, soulful production is reminiscent of R&B legends like Toni Braxton and Sade.

This year, we’ve had the great pleasure of receiving two fresh singles from HARLOE: The soaring power ballad “Liquid Truth” and the slick disco banger “PWR RNGR” with Chicago rapper Mick Jenkins. Both tracks are impressive outputs armed with infectious hooks, powerhouse vocals and relatable storytelling.

“Overall, I’ve just become more and more honest with myself through the process. I’m still so connected to my first EP and what it says, and I feel like my music only pulls from that place more now,” HARLOE told In The Know about her growth from Rivers Run Dry. “I’ve been learning to just trust myself in the studio and also in my life, kinda going with gut feelings more than I ever have.

“I’ve always been drawn to music from the ’70s and onward. I just wanted to let go and write songs that made me feel out of this world in the studio, especially being back in the studio after the whole pandemic changed everything,” HARLOE continued. “I remember going back in with Jeff Shum and Keith Askey for the first time since [then] and saying, ‘I just want to make something that feels soooo good,’ and I think we did!”

That “feels soooo good” feeling is undeniably there with her latest release, “Overthinking,” which features disco icon and CHIC co-founder Nile Rodgers.

The breezy disco-pop gem is primed for the dance floor or a roller rink, with slick ’70s bass lines and buttery synths. In the song, HARLOE laments the confusing feeling of not knowing where the other person stands and the emotional unraveling that happens as a result. 

The song itself came together during a serendipitous session with fellow Roc Nation producer Fred Ball (Jessie Reyez, RAYE, Little Mix) at the iconic Abbey Road Studios in London, where Nile Rodgers just so happened to also be recording.

“It was so unexpected and surreal,” HARLOE told In The Know about the session. “I flew into London to work with Fred Ball at Abbey Road Studios, and Nile was there working on something else on the other side of the studio. I saw him through the glass window and thought that I couldn’t miss the opportunity to meet him! We started blasting our track through the speakers to grab his attention, and it worked! We met there and then, and the song came alive right after. Watching him in his craft is truly so special.”

There’s plenty more where “Overthinking” came from. HARLOE’s forthcoming EP is about letting go of expectations and limitations and just having a good time.

“Be ready for more heartfelt songs and FUN vibes. It’s kinda been my favorite thing at the moment,” HARLOE told us. “[I’m] not thinking too specific with music right now and just going where the flow takes me. I love mixing genres, and this whole project will have some of that in it.”

It’s a reflection of the songwriting community she’s built around her and her commitment to being 100% herself — a keytar-slinging, party-starting boss who is “bold, empowered and sensitive.” There’s no “Overthinking” when it comes to HARLOE — and the time to get familiar is now!

HARLOE’s “Overthinking” is available to stream on all platforms here!

If you enjoyed this article, check out Jon Ali’s spotlight on another artist you should be listening to — Agnes!

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