Forest Hills artist uses harp to create sci-fi, pop fusion

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The harp is an instrument often associated with soft, heavenly melodies coming from a symphony, cherub or dead cartoon character floating up to the afterlife.

But Forest Hills-based artist Erin Hill has a different take on the celestial strings.

“I play the harp, sing and write psychedelic, sci-fi pop songs,” she said Saturday, while filming a music video with her band, Erin Hill & Her Psychedelic Harp.

Hill was impeccably dressed for the 1950s, which is when the video takes place, and she fittingly rented neighborhood throwback Eddies Sweet Shop, at 105-29 Metropolitan Ave., for the set.

“I’m keeping it in Queens,” she said. “I love it here.”

Hill is originally from Kentucky, but has lived in Queens for the last 10 years, and Forest Hills for the last five.

Directors of the video milled around behind the lunch counter at Eddies and adjusted a camera focused on several other ’50s-era customers who were pretending to have lunch.

The scenario for the music video was based off an episode of “The Twilight Zone,” a science-fiction television show from the 1960s.

In the episode called “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?,” a snowstorm strands a group of bus passengers in a remote diner, and two policemen suspect one of the passengers of concealing a secret alien identity.

There are no Martians in the scenario Hill wrote. Instead, God pulls up a stool and eats a bowl of ice cream while a little girl does her science homework.

Hill has been fascinated with science-fiction since her childhood, when she would wake up early on Sunday mornings, grab a bowl of cereal and marvel at the astral travels of Captain Kirk.

“I just fell in love with ‘Star Trek,’” she said.

She also read magazines like “Astounding Science,” and some of the characters in her videos can be spotted doing the same.

“I think science-fiction gives you hope for the future,” she said. “You see the things we’ve achieved, and it just expands your mind.”

Hill has also been playing the harp since she was 8 and grew up watching MTV, which goes a long way to explaining her unique music career.

Many of her videos take place in the ’50s and ’60s, when the space race and innovations in technology spawned an interest in the bizarre and extraterrestrial.

“It’s like going back to the good old days,” Hill said.

The video for “Lookout, Science” is Hill’s second. Her first video, called “Giant Mushrooms,” was also filmed in Forest Hills and follows the surreptitious exploits of a boy who grows freakishly large fungi in the closet underneath the stairs of his house.

She eventually hopes to make 10 songs from her “Girl Inventor” album into mini sci-fi films.

Hill has started a fund-raising page at and hopes to collect enough money to finish the rest of the songs.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 11:10 am, October 12, 2011
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