Harry Styles - As It Was

May 2022

You probably know the boy band One Direction, where Harry Edward Styles began his musical career back in 2010, succeeding all over the world and becoming the first in the sales charts in many countries.

After One Direction announced an indefinite hiatus, he began his solo career under the name Harry Styles. He has released two soft-glam rock style albums in 2017 and 2019 and his third album titled 'Harry's House' has been announced for 2022.

harry's house album

In this article I am going to deconstruct Harry Styles latest single 'As It Was', which will be part of this upcoming third album. The kick, snare, and high-hat drum beat and main synth hook could be likened to a Her’s or Declan McKenna track but sonically, it builds similar to a Gus Dapperton record. this track has the vulnerability one often hears in bedroom pop records. 

Listen to the remake below!

The chord structure is really simple and repeats throughout the song:

as it was harry styles chords


The leitmotif of the song is clearly the synthesizer melody with which the song begins, repeating itself later in the chorus.

To recreate this sound I have composed it in two layers, one more percussive and brighter with the Synclavier and the other more acidic which adds body with the VOX Continental by Arturia.

vox arturia lead synth as it was harry styles
vox arturia

I think it has been one of the hardest sounds that I have been trying to recreate, since I couldn't find a timbre similar to the original. After trying hundreds of combinations, the fusion of both layers has been the key to get as close as possible to the original sound.

Listen to the two layers separately and together below.

Lead Synth 1

Lead Synth 2

Both Lead Synths

The song is based on a bass synth with a sound that doesn't stand out but perfectly fills all the low frequencies. Listen in the original song as it appears in the first verse just when the “Nothing to say…” part enters, do you appreciate the jump in bass freqs?

I have recreated this bass synth with two layers again, on the one hand the Mini and with CZ from Arturia. Take a listen below.

mini synth bass as it was harry styles

Bass Synth

Entering the chorus, some strings appear filling the high frequencies that I have recreated with the Solina, as I usually do whenever there are monophonic lines of this style.

strings synth  as it was harry styles

Solina Strings

Finally, in the chorus there are also descending chords with a “pluck” sound that I have recreated with the TAL-U-NO.

tal-u-no  as it was harry styles

Pluck Synth

Remember that you can download all the presets and synth sounds of all my projects by supporting me on my Patreon page!


Although no chords played on the guitar appear at any time, we do find some riffs that add rhythm to the song.

First of all, in the verses the song rests on a wall of indeterminate sound with reverb. This part starts with him singing “Holding me back…”, and I haven't been able to determine exactly how he created this wall of sound, but I've tried to recreate it with some guitar picking, delay, and a lot of reverb using Guitar Rig 5 to create a nostalgic and ethereal atmosphere.

Hear it here.

guitars as it was harry styles

Background-reverb Guitars

In the middle of the first verse, another much more defined guitar appears and brings that rhythmic part to the song.

Verse Guitar

Entering the chorus, there is a sharp note that is again embedded in reverb to give it amplitude. Later, during the chorus, another guitar enters with a more powerful and distorted sound, making low notes giving strength to the next part. Take a listen below.

Chorus Guitars

The second verse has the same layers as the first, but with a few more tracks added with different riffs. Listen here all the guitars at the same time of this second verse.

Second verse Guitars


The drums of the song have a quite powerful sound, with a kick and snare very present in a fairly marked and straight pattern.

To recreate it I have used the VST Addictive Drums 2, and the most important thing has been to navigate different kits until I found a sound of similar bass drum and snare.

Then I used Goodhertz's Vulf Compressor to give them that controlled power without much tail or room sound of the original track, and the Aphex Vintage Aural Exciter from Waves to give bright to the whole kit.

drums as it was harry styles
compressor as it was harry styles
aural exciter as it was harry styles

Listen to the drums below.

Drums sound


The vocals of Harry Styles in this song have seemed quite interesting to me. In the verses it has a more intimate and close sound, where the sound of room and reverb is more appreciated.

On the other hand, in the chorus it evolves into vowels with a greater amplitude full of choirs that support the main line in different tones, both with lower tones that give body, and with higher tones.

Listen below how all the choirs in the chorus complement each other with the different tones creating a very pleasant harmony. The effects chain that I use in this song is the same that I have used in other of my remakes like Pink+White by Frank Ocean.

vocal effect processing as it was harry styles

Vocals solo

I hope you liked it, don't forget to watch the video on youtube and subscribe if you liked it! You can also download the presets and sounds that I have used on my Patreon page.

See you in the next article!

David Alonso patreonthanks for reading!

If you liked it, or if you want to download the Ableton Projects with the
plugins used and all the tracks & midi files by one click, check out my Patreon page!

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