Interview: Harrison talks recent Colors EP, influences and the flavour of love

By Tiffany Lam, Managing Editor. “In two short years, this prodigious Toronto producer has gone from teenage bedroom beatmaker showcasing homemade, sample-savy wares on Soundcloud to hotly tipped studio savant positioned at the frontlines of the city’s R&B renaissance”, his Facebook page read. Into The Crowd managed to steal a little time away from local artist Harrison and his busy day at Bestival this summer to discuss his recent Colors EP, some influences, the flavour of love and more.

Hey Harrison, can you start off my introducing a little bit about yourself? 

Hi I’m Harry. My real name’s Harrison but people call me Harry. I’m 19, I’m a producer and songwriter from Toronto.

Is this your first festival? I heard you were here yesterday, who’d you check out? Anyone you’re excited for today? 

This is my first festival! It’s pretty cool. It was definitely a great way to – as my manager so eloquently put – pop the cherry of festivals. I played really early but I got to sort of feel the vibe.

I guess you went in with a bang with all the VICE interview stuff happening too, eh? 

Oh yeah. I’m gonna be sticking around to do more of that stuff today, but on my time off I’ll probably be… drinking excessively [laughs], I gotta catch Cashmere Cat. I gotta catch him every time. And NAS, wtf.

You released your debut EP Colors via Last Gang earlier this year. Can you share with us a little bit about the process and making of that? 

It was like having a kid, watching the kid grow up and letting it go off to college. We’re gonna say “it”, because it can be a he or she; we don’t know yet [laughs]. But yeah it was great, it was a lot of fun. I was in such a great place when I was making that and it turned out exactly how I wanted it to. I’m really happy. So for the album, I hope it turns out exactly how it’s turning out, which is the opposite of the EP so we’ll see how that goes. Maddee was great, she knows how to write songs very well; it was a blast.

I heard about your past Missing Hito side project, and I won’t ask to get into deep details about that but are there any other side projects you’re working on? 

I got like 16 different ones [laughs]. That one was the most important one and I actually went back to it. I put out a song 2-3 weeks ago, I don’t know, I think I just needed time to step away from the idea of it and put my head into the more creative part… Focus on the actual project itself and not any meanings.

You’re playing with Willow Smith on Friday… That’s pretty freaking cool. Are you excited? 

Yeah! Oh man, I almost forgot about that! I’m so stoked… I’m so stoked. What.

And then the NXNE block party. 

Oh yeah, that’s going to be fun too. Harry’s first set on CDJs… Let’s see how that goes. Oh god, I’m stoked for both. So much fun and summer jams.

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Where do you draw your influences from? 

All over the place. Recently it’s been nature, and I know that sounds cheesy – the thing is I hate camping, I hate long obnoxious walks in the forest, but I’m really into urban cityscape walks like back alleys in Toronto and stuff. Quiet background noise in downtown Toronto. I’ll record off my phone a bunch and just put that into songs; the whole album’s really focused on that. Funk of course too; my parents were really into that so I had a big collection of vinyls from the 80s. And females! Gotta drive some inspiration from females and relationships and whatever teenage stuff you go through. I’m going to be 20 soon… Getting there. The other day my mom was like, “Twenty: huge deal, be scared!”

If you weren’t pursuing music today, what do you think you’d be doing today?

Voice acting for sure. For sure. I’ve sort of stepped into it but we’ll see what happens. I’ll talk to you guys about that later

List 4 things you could not live without. 

Dog, piano, cigarettes… And love. I couldn’t live without love, no one could. Sorry, that was super cheesy [laughs].

Any music guilty pleasures?

Music guilty pleasures? Ooh. You know what I was listening to the other day? “Shake it”… by I have no idea who. It goes “shake, shake, shake shake sha-shake it”

Metro Station? 

YES. That song bumps. I love that song. Teenage Dream by Katy Perry is another good one, but that’s not even guilty.

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