I recently had the opportunity of interviewing DJ extraordinare Calvin Harris for the website, Greenshoelace.com. Here’s how the story goes…
Scottish-born DJ Calvin Harris plays by his own rules. Though it seems like he was an overnight success to some, Harris has been creating music since he was a teenager. Record labels adore him, musicians seek him out, and fans can’t get enough of him. With the digital release of his second album Ready for the Weekend (Sony), the physical release is on October 6th, there is no stopping him. He already has two #1 singles from the album and we have the feeling it’s just the beginning. I hadthe chance to talk to Harris last week and he filled us in on what goes on inside of his head.
Your first record, I Created Disco, went Gold. What kind of pressure did you have going into the studio this time? Did you feel like you had to live up to the expectations of your fans?
Not really. The first album was good, but the new album shows people what I can really do. It’s a bit more technical.
You’re popular with both indie fans and dance fans alike. How do you think you manage to appeal to both?
I never tried to get anyone’s approval. I like to make music I enjoy creating and listening to — not necessarily what I think others will like. I like to make people dance because I like to. That’s what I’m into. I make music I think is cool, because quite frankily, I’m not cool. At least I don’t think I am.
You’ve remixed songs from everyone to Passion Pit’s ‘The Reeling’ and so on. How do you choose what songs to remix? I like songs with really good vocals. That’s the whole deal. If I like the vocals then I’m really into it and want to create around it.
When it comes to your own songs, how do you create them for the album? What inspires you?
Um, currently 90’s classic dance music. I like to incorporate that style of musician in a modern context. I like to make it more interesting, more evolved, more instrumental .
What was the ultimate reason you started to release your own material since you were already a successful producer?
It wasn’t really my call. I got offered a record deal and I accepted it. I’d been doing the producing thing and thought it would be a good chance to change.
You’ve already had two #1 singles from the new album ‘Ready for the Weekend.’ Did you ever expect that so soon or at all?
No I didn’t! I didn’t know what would do well off of the new record. Usually I get it wrong. Well I always get it wrong.
How did you first start making music?
I was 14 years old when I started making music. My big brother was in university for computers and he had a music computer. I started messing around with that alot. I really enjoyed making music with it. I would send my stuff to record labels and they would sending encouraging letters back saying it was quite good. That’s how I got into producing.
You wanted to release your second album last year, how come you held it off until now?
I wanted to make it the best possible thing. I could have possibly released it but it wasn’t what I wanted. I felt it was my last chance to prove myself. I wanted to get it perfect.
Do you have any collaborations or remixes in the works right now?
Not really, I just worked with Sharkira which was fun. I don’t have any other collaborations in the works right now.
I heard you like to showcase your songs live before you finish them or put them on the record. What’s your reasoning behind that?
I like to see how things translate and people’s different reactions to the things I haven’t done before. With the reaction of the crowd I can tell when a song is good or bad and if people are into it.
The new record is a bit varied in sound. Why did you decide to switch it up a bit?
I don’t think I had a choice. It was what was inside my head. It wasn’t a conscious decision to change a few things, it was a basic move that interested me. I couldn’t avoid it.
How did Dizzee Rascal end up appearing on your album?
The song we worked on, ”Dance Wiv Me,” was originally his release. I met him at a festival and he called me and asked if I could write some music for him, so I said ‘Yea of course!’ I love him, he’s great. We worked on that song for a while until we got it perfect.
You’ve worked with the likes of Kylie Minogue and other big name celebrities. What was that like? Do you ever step back in disbelief at the artists you get to collaborate with?
Yes, but it’s important not to dwell on it too much. You have to keep a conscious track of yourself…and be in the moment. You have to ignore the status of celebrity who you are working with. It’s really the best way.
Where do you see the future of electronic and dance music going?
I’m the worst person to ask! I like more pop music because electronic and dance and all of that kind of stuff, it’s good, but it often seems bizarre to me.
Who would be your ultimate artist to collaborate or record with?
Prince! But its not going to happen, I’m sure. He’s my idol though.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself 10 pounds heavier, maybe I’ll shave my head, grow a beard and work in a factory. I’m not sure that will happen, but it could. Hopefully I’ll still be making music.