They say you shouldn’t meet your heroes, but for Aussie musician Harts meeting his hero Prince quite literally changed his life.
Born in India, Harts – real name Darren Hart – was raised by two parents who were athletes, competing in track and field at a “very, very high level”.
The couple saved up to make the move to Australia with their two young children and although not a musician, Harts says much of his love of the art form comes from his father.
“I started playing drums because I thought that would be the easiest instrument to learn,” he says.
“Then I started playing guitar and just teaching myself on the side. But all those hours that I put into it, I was playing every day for hours.”
By the age of 20, that passion had turned into a career and Harts was signed to a major record label.
Yet it wasn’t all smooth sailing: there was a moment when he very nearly walked away from the music industry altogether.
“I was going through a bit of a rough patch with the label and particularly my music at the time,” he says.
“I really felt as though the music game wasn’t for me just from what was popular within music, where I sat I felt I was so isolated … from what was popular and cool.
“I knew that the label was going to drop me because the release we just released didn’t do too well – it flopped. So I quit music.
“When I finally got the letters through saying ‘yeah, you’re done’ that was the same day I got contacted by Prince.
“So within an hour of getting that letter I got the first email from Prince.”
Sent from Prince’s manager, it told the young Aussie muso that Prince had discovered his work on YouTube and was inviting him out to visit him in Paisley Park, where he was based, in Minneapolis.
“I was like ‘what the hell? Is this real or is someone playing a joke on me?’
“I was so depressed at that time so I was just like ‘yeah, some idiot is playing a trick on me’.”
Harts sent his phone number over and sure enough, his phone rung and on the other end was the music icon – Purple Rain himself – Prince.
“He said 'I love your music, are you free to come out to Paisley Park? I wanna jam with you'.
"“He said 'I love your music, are you free to come out to Paisley Park? I wanna jam with you'."
“I was like ‘yeah, I am actually’. I’m so available.
“He still didn’t tell me what this was actually for.”
Harts was flown over to the US and taken to Prince’s famous estate where his band was setting up in a studio.
As he sat down in the corner – “so nervous” – the band started rehearsing and he realised they were playing his stuff.
“I didn’t know anything about him apart from his interviews and what I’d learnt like that," Harts says.
“He was so friendly and so down to earth and human. He just kind of gave me more perspective on my failures.
“There was no clear definition as to what I was as a musician, I was just kind of a jack of all trades guy who kinda mucks around in his bedroom.
“When I started playing guitar with him he was like sold on it, like ‘that’s what you need to be’ and he was right.
“For him to even just give me the time of day and to give me the amount of hours he gave me to help me out with no benefit to him… that just blew my mind.”
When Prince passed away last year, Harts learned of the news after waking up to dozens and dozens of missed calls from friends, family and music industry types.
That same evening he was playing a set at Groove In The Moo music festival and had an image of Prince displayed on the stage as he dedicated the last song – Purple Rain – to his memory.