Euphoradio Exclusive Artist Interview: Harrison
For someone who’s made quite a splash in the electronic music scene in the last little while, Harrison (real name and producer name) comes off as a humble soul, talking to me as if I were an old friend. “Don’t think I’m being rude or don’t care here dude I’m just getting my set ready for tonight” he says with a laugh as he pulls out his laptop and opens up Ableton. For someone who is open about suffering from anxiety and depression, none of that is present here. He is all smiles and is clearly happy and excited about his headlining show at Velvet Underground (September 30th).
Coming off the heels of his debut album “Checkpoint Titanium”, Harrison has been compared to the likes of Macaross 82-99, Skylar Spence, Yung Bae, Wave Racer and anyone else that is apart of the future funk/future bass scene. It makes sense considering that the young producer – for the most part – has had collaborations with these artists, but for his newest album he decided to go a different route than his usual sound. Synthwave and a few other genres make themselves present on the album and Harrison for the most part has abandoned his sample heavy ways and now leans more toward actual synth work/ sound design. I decided to ask him about this and a bunch of other questions and after we both get over our loves for anime and video games, we get down to business.
1. What made you want to pursue music?
Harrison: A long time ago I watched an anime called Samurai Champloo and I guess the music in that show kind of got me interested in wanting to make music. I remember hearing the hip-hop instrumentals on the show and thinking “Wow this is amazing! I want to make stuff like this!” The thing is, influences always change throughout the years for a person and for me, it always goes back to really good funk and 80’s music. A lot of that kind of music is timeless and to me it’s amazing that years and years later, people still resonate with it and love it.
None of this really got me to actually start making music until my first break up in Grade 10, which sounds dumb I know but when you’re in high school and when you lose your first girlfriend, life seems like its over. I needed something else to do to distract myself so I started to make music in my spare time. At first it was for fun but then after a while it started getting serious and then it started to take off.
2. Your new album “Checkpoint Titanium” has a much different sound than you’re previous work in the future bass realm. What caused the change?
Harrison: I thought future bass was very cool music and I wanted to make that kind of music very much but I also wanted to dig a little deeper. After a while, I felt like I wasn’t being true to myself if I constantly made that kind of music. Not that I don’t want too. I still make it but the only time now is when it’s for video games or that kind of stuff. If I’m working on a project and it’s getting licensed then I’ll make that because I still like that kind of music, but me as an artist that’s not my most honest stuff and I didn’t want “Checkpoint Titanium” to sound like that even tho I made whatever I wanted. The end result is an album that is very honest and very true to me and that’s exactly what I wanted.
3. You mentioned in a recent interview that you suffer from depression and anxiety. Where do you find the energy and drive to create music when you find yourself stuck in those thoughts sometimes?
Harrison: The short answer is I don’t let myself get stuck (laughs). I guess I would say I’m not the kind of person that has a constant cloud over my head. It comes in waves with some weeks being good and others bad. The funny thing is there’s never a reason for it, it just comes with overthinking and I know I shouldn’t think like that because everything’s fine and nothings wrong, but I can’t help myself. Your start digging into the root of the problem to try and see what’s causing it but you realize it’s really nothing and it’s just your brain over thinking.
The best way for my to deal with that kind of stuff is just getting lost in video games. The importance of video games in my life is unmatchable because to me it’s just like “Just dumb myself out with Overwatch” or something like that (laughs)
4. In one of your newest tracks “Vertigo”, you collaborated with a Toronto local named a l l I e who is a wonderful vocalist. Do you think Toronto, electronic music aside, has untapped potential of local artists?
Harrison: I almost had an argument with someone about this the other day (laughs) There’s so much good music in the underground that’s coming up to the top like Charlotte Day Wilson. People are really starting to care about RnB influences and electronic influences and it’s really opening up peoples mind’s to be more open to different things and be like “Okay let’s give this a try!” when something new and different comes out. The niche techno scene and other electronic scenes too have their own thing going all over Toronto and I love it all. Eventually it will be tapped.
5. Your previous work was very sample based where as it seems in your new album, you’re playing around with different synths and VST’s. Which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) and VST’s do you use?
Harrison: I initially learned on Reason from my friend Shamus, who was making dubstep at the time. I eventually moved to Ableton and now am trying to implement a live set aspect to my show but keeping it safe because I don’t trust a damn computer! The thing always drops out on me and freezes and I’m like “screw this!” (laughs) that’s why I switched over to CDJ’s but for stuff like this I want to do things live like use a midi keyboard and such. For example, for tonight’s live performance I’m using a couple VST’s called Sauraus and another called Lounge Lizard, which emulates Rhodes, and Wurlitzer sounds. At home I use a Korg M1 synthesizer and a Yamaha DX7. I use to use an MPC1000 for my sample based beat tapes as well
6. Who are some of your favorite artists at the moment and who are some that you look up too for inspiration?
Harrison: Well as I was saying before Charlotte Day Wilson, my mentor Shamus, BadBadNotGood, George Clanton, the list goes on man! I really suggest listening to a guy named Aspree if you like Vaporwave or anything like that. Really good stuff but yeah there’s literally way too many to name all of them (laughs)
7. My last question was going to be what tips can you give producers who want to break into the scene but it seems to me that you really didn’t want to break in. You just did it because you loved music.
Harrison: Oh my god it sounds so cheesy but it’s so true! (laughs) But yeah just be yourself and don’t be worried about finding your sound because it will come out naturally eventually. That’s literally it. Just experiment and eventually it will come.
We ended there and shook each other’s hands as his next interview approached. We talked a bit more about video games and anime and parted ways. I can’t shake the feeling the entire time that I had just spoken too a good friend I had not seen in a while, and can’t help but feel a lot of that has translated into this music. Harrison is definitely someone to look out for in the near future.