Tuesday, April 13, 2010
after several uncoordinated attempts over the past few years to have a sit-down with mr. calvin harris, i finally finessed a couple minutes with him when he most recently passed through san diego with burns to play at the rapidly becoming world-renown dj club, voyeur. sure, he may twist knobs for kylie and compose for dizzee, but he's refreshingly down to earth. armed with a new haircut and a new outlook on life, we chatted up everything from his new years resolutions to learning how to not put his foot in his mouth during interviews anymore.
so calvin, are you an interview professional now? i've seen a few previous ones where you've gotten a good slap on the hand for mouthing off about various people.
yes i'm a bit different now. a bit more refined, i guess you could say. everyone sits in front of their telly and says 'oh look at that dickhead', "he's a prick", 'i hate her', "he's an idiot". i just transferred that into proper interviews that i didn't realize so many people would read. then everyone was talking about me saying 'look at that idiot slagging off about everyone else'. it's one thing to say it to your mate, but it's quite another to say it in a publication. even if you think that person is a dickhead, he probably isn't. it's just spreading horrible, negative vibes around.
so does that go along with your new years 2008 resolution to 'be nicer'?
yes, definitely. in fact, i make that same resolution every year. i try to be the nicest man... in the world!
no, haha, i'm not. i think there's always room for improvement with that, isn't there? i'm also trying to not drink alcohol. this is red bull and this is water [gesturing to the two cups beside him]. i should probably go to the gym. i feel like an old man when i get up in the morning. that's probably a sign of being unhealthy and unfit and i'm only 26. i should think about getting a tan, too.
so when no one is dancing do your music in various clubs around the country because you aren't playing dutch house music all night long, you can only drown your sorrows with red bull?
ya, that's why i started jackin' up [slaps arm]... heroin. it takes the fuckin' pain away! [everyone laughs]
tell me when you learned how to dj. because i saw some old videos where you said you didn't know how, but now you are doing more dj gigs than actual live gigs.
i used to play vinyl in my bedroom when i was 15 and shy. i didn't understand the concept of a monitor so i was just trying to mix using the hi-fi. i couldn't quite figure out why it didn't sound right.
so when did it click for you?
when i started using ableton! there is no way i could physically mix out of time with it. i'm a selector, not a dj. it's only other djs that know the difference. i only want people to have a good time. i'll probably move to cds one day because ableton is a laborious setup. the instant gratification of cds is quite appealing.
any specific reason you're dj'ing more than performing live?
you can't do the odd one-off live gig in the same way you can with dj'ing. live gigs are so much of a production with a massive crew who all need to get paid. i guess it's a case of not losing money.
so which single is this dj tour promoting? you've already released four singles so far.
uhh, none of them. i'm not promoting anything.
so what is this tour for?
it's for fun!
oh. haha, what a concept! so tell me a little about your fascination with david guetta. you seem to mention him often. are there any plans to work with him on a song?
i'm a fan. he has not asked me, yet. if he did, i would.
oh ya, that's your thing isn't it? you won't ask people to collaborate, they have to approach you.
i'll ask people when i'm in a position to. right now i don't really want to.
you don't think so? i think that ever since 2007 you've been a bit of a rising star. what do you think triggered that whole cumulative effect that took you from a happy-go-lucky blog boy to uk pop song master?
i think i finally decided what i wanted to do. early on, i was just messing around. i quickly learned that you need to fit into something that has already existed in the past. i wanted to be taken in by people and made part of their musical consciousness. i hate 'electro-pop' but i became that 'electro-pop' guy stuck in-between the two genres and not quite authentic enough for either. so i just decided to buckle down and make good dance music.
well aren't you a bit 'pop'? you're all up in the videos and even sing in them like a lot of pop stars do with their sunglasses on.
i'm still in the videos, but i reserve that right for the songs that i make. you need a little bit of that to feed the ego. it's definitely more in production and making music that i enjoy.
sometimes i feel like the uk is so isolated in its trends and tastes that some things don't always translate their popularity to the rest of the world. coming from the uk, do you ever come across that barrier when making music?
it annoys me when it applies to my own music, but i like to think that i'm not a completely british entity. i'm aware that the music sounds european, but i try to think with a worldwide perspective. i need to think like guetta. i always come back to him because he thinks on a grand scale. it must be a product of him traveling the world for 25 years of dj'ing. i probably don't have the worldwide education, yet, to make that happen. it also depends on the artists themselves and how much money they have to market their music. i believe that some dizzee rascal records could have been huge if someone like jay-z was featured on a track or two.
so how much input do you have when it comes to marketing choices such as who is going to remix your singles?
there is loads of collaborative input. we were really lucky to snag who we did last year. everyone on the top of our lists said yes. we got the guetta remix of 'flashback', the deadmau5 remix of "i'm not alone", the laidback luke remix of 'you used to hold me'. i've done loads of remixes, so i know what parts i like to receive in the package. i just tried to make it as easy for them to put their sound on it as possible.
do you have any that you're working on now?
no. just recently, i finished up three in one week and just decided that i needed a big break from it all. i did shakira, mika and guetta. i was at capacity, so i'm giving it a rest for a while. i want to regroup and do something really good when i have time.
do you want to give us any hints to what you're going to play tonight?
i'll probably play some burns, some of my own tracks and some laidback luke. i love laidback luke!
do you sing over your tracks when you dj?
oh no, i'd never do that. a couple of people have said i should, but that would be awful.
why not? i know people who do it over their own tracks.
drop the lime!
that's probably why he slagged me off for not singing while i was dj'ing. that's bollocks, though. i feel that for me it would sound like shit.
do you not like your voice?
it's not that. it's just that the quality of the sound is probably going to be rubbish. it's just not for me.
fair enough. any up and coming producers you want to name drop?
burns, obviously. i also really like a guy called paul epworth. he doesn't really make much dance music, though. he has produced for the friendly fires and florence + the machine. he does dance music as phones.
what's your take on disco?
well, i'm not sure about all that. all the new disco sounds like all the old disco. and the old disco was just fine and there's loads of it.
well, 'you created disco'...
[calvin's eyes shoot daggers across the room] oh dear!
* the truth disclaimer = calvin is nice, he does not drink or do heroin. the end.
Posted by Miss Toats at 11:40 PM