Calvin Harris king of all the right grooves
BY KORINA LOPEZ December 12, 2012 5:44PM
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Updated: December 12, 2012 5:44PM
Making chart-topping electronic dance music isn’t Scottish music producer Calvin Harris’ only talent: He’s also an excellent grocery store clerk.
“Before I was signed [to a record deal on Columbia], I worked in a succession of supermarkets,” he says. “I was very good at it because I’m really tall and could help old ladies reach their cans of beans.”
But with his third album “18 Months,” released in October he needn’t worry about returning to the supermarket track anytime soon.
Fresh off a string of high-profile festivals — Lollapalooza, Made in America, Coachella — he landed the coveted house DJ gig at MTV’s Video Music Awards and the hits “Let’s Go” (with Ne-Yo) and “Feel So Close.”
“After the success of similar artists like David Guetta and Skrillex, the stage has really been set for Calvin Harris to break through big time in America,” says Keith Caulfield, Billboard’s associate director of charts/retail. “He stands to be Guetta 2.0.”
Not that Harris misses life in anonymity. “I can’t think of a single thing I could possibly miss from those days — it was horrible,” he says.
Now Harris, 28, is one of the most prominent names in dance music, recruiting heavy-hitters from all over the musical spectrum for his new album, among them Ellie Goulding (“I Need Your Love”), Florence Welch (“Sweet Nothing”) and Dizzee Rascal (“Here 2 China”). Also included is his collaboration with Rihanna on “We Found Love,” the powerhouse pop hit that made him an EDM superstar.
“I enjoy working with Dizzee Rascal. We’ve known each other for years and he knows how I work, I know how he works,” Harris says. “But the most challenging tracks to make, where I had to chase down the artist and convince them to work with me, were the most rewarding.”
On EDM site Beatport, “Harris has been a rising star, he’s not an overnight sensation,” says Clark Warner, Beatport’s executive creative director. “He’s mastered the sound to be successful.”
Before he transitioned to the turntables, Harris was Adam Richard Wiles from Dumfries, Scotland.
“I was a soul singer and thought I needed a new name,” he says. “I decided to use a combination of R&B singer Calvin Richardson and producer Andre Harris. I thought the result sounded like a proper name.”
In 2006, his MySpace music pricked the ears of EMI, which signed him to a publishing deal. As he rose through the ranks, he gained notoriety for his bluntness and unwillingness to compromise his sound.
In 2008, he declined an offer to remix Lady Gaga. “She wasn’t that well-known,” he says. “A year later, she’s the biggest thing.” He also famously got into a tiff with Katy Perry during her California Dreams tour, canceling his opening slot mid-tour.
Now that Harris has carved out a solid spot in the EDM hierarchy, he can afford to break bad now and then.
“There’s more dance music out there than there used to be, but finding a good dance record is a big thing and there are only a handful of people that are being watched,” he says. “Everyone else is filler.”
But Harris still has difficulty grasping his fame. “Sometimes [during shows], I wonder, what are all these people doing here?”
Gannett News Service