Here at IX, we really love music. We really love talking to people that really love music. That’s why we talked to HARRISON, a 19 y/o beatmaker from Toronto that is fit to blow the fuck up any second now. After getting a Vimeo Staff Pick for his video single “Akira“, opening for Com Truise last month at Coda and signing to Toronto-based powerhouse Last Gang Records (Ryan Hemsworth, MSTRKRFT, Death From Above 1979), HARRISON has had a hell of a year, and if that’s at all indicative of the future, 2015 is about to get FUNKY. We sat down on the loveliest fall day in Trinity Bellwoods Park to smoke e-cigs and chat about the future, past and present.
IX: Please introduce yourself!
I’m Harrison from Toronto, Ontario. 19 years old. I produce instrumentals.
IX: What’s the first record that ever changed your life?
Oh! Umm, it’s between the Samurai Champloo OST by Nujabes [and Fat Jon] and Long Distance by Onra, both ten outta tens!
IX: Ten outta tens? Harrison rating, ten outta ten! You heard it here first. Ok so how has Internet culture changed the way you see and the way you brand Harrison? How would Harrison be different if the Internet didn’t exist at all?
The thing is, I sorta had a big problem with playing shows before and without like SoundCloud and stuff, I probably wouldn’t be able to get out there as well. Also like, sort of a segue, stuff like Tumblr, you can always be inspired and with SoundCloud too, it’s so easy to discover.
IX: Interesting. So how does the aesthetic of Tumblr change your brand?
Well, I don’t know, like t was funny at first. My Tumblr at first was all like 80s stuff and now it’s all like weird Japanese things [laughs] and like if you go through my SoundCloud [music], you’ll see it started as 80s sort of vaporwave and now it’s sort of like faster, “cute” music!
IX: Cute music? I feel it! Sort of the nostalgia of old video games and shit…
Yea, yea! Totally man. I want to make video game music one day. One day…
IX: Cool! I feel you! A bit of a segue too. What kind of stuff do you use to produce? Hardware? Software?
Umm, I started off on Reason 5, we had some like cracked version of it. My friend Seamus taught me how to use it. And now I’m using Ableton and an [Akai] MPC1000, a [Yamaha] DX7 (which is a pain in the ass to program; it sucks! But it can make some really cool sounds) and a MIDI controller. In my space, there’s like a TV and a couch, and then there’s like my studio basically. So it’s like I’ll alternate days sitting on the couch and one day I’ll be like actually fully immersed with the gear and stuff. You know, you can make music on your computer…
IX: So do you do any sampling?
Well yea like, I haven’t been sampling much recently, besides like little video game sounds. Yoshi, Kirby, my two faves at the moment!
IX: Yea for sure! I just heard that joint with the Kirby samples you just put out, it was sick!
[laughs] Thanks dude! Umm but before, yea I was basically making a lot of edits. I was totally inspired by Onra in like his sampling techniques. So I was really into that!
IX: OK interesting. So what are your top three beatmakers?
Top three beatm… Oh wow, this is a tough one! Holy! Ok I’m gonna need a minute or two.
IX: Yea, yea! Take your time.
Let’s look for a shady spot to sit!
IX: Yea, let’s get out of the way of these bikers [laughs]
I’m not here often so I don’t how the bikers react. Three… uhhh, this is killing me ‘cus they alternate!
IX: For right now… doesn’t have to be of all-time
For right now? Umm, Darius. I’m gonna throw him on there ‘cus he’s insane. Uhhh… Ohh… Pogo! Pogo makes like Disney remakes. He’ll actually always be in my top three just ‘cus he was also a big part, like he didn’t have any albums or anything, but he was a big part of me starting music. So that’s two… Darius, Pogo… I guess… A guy named spazzkid. He’s really good.
IX: Spazzkid?! Never heard of that dude. OK cool. Alright, so I recently saw that you got signed to Last Gang. Congrats! Big ups, that’s a huge thing! I seen the cupcakes, that was a nice touch! So what’s your relationship like with them? How do you hope they’ll push you forward?
Well, yea! They’re really cool. I’ve known them for like a while because I was helping produce BizZarh’s album and I still am. They’re amazing and I really wanna help them… well, actually no, they’re helping me, I love those girls! [laughs] So that was like a year, a year and a half ago. They’re on Ben Cook’s [Last Gang sublabel] Bad Actors. So they’re really actually like family-oriented, they’re really cool and I like that a lot. As soon as you go to Last Gang, you get the vibe of family. So we’re actually going to be putting out an EP with Starslinger’s label Jet Jam very, very soon. So it’s gonna be Last Gang and Jet Jam.
IX: Siiiiick! Any news on how it’s going to be released?
Uhhh, I think there’s gonna be physicals, but I don’t know if that’s only in the UK or not. So we’ll see what happens. But yea, I’m really excited for that!
IX: So what’s the next year looking like for you and Last Gang? Like what are you planning?
I want to put out that EP and then hopefully by this time next year, I’ll have a full-length for circulation. And then after that, we’ll see what happens. Maybe tour one day, I’ve always wanted to try touring but I’m an anxious so I don’t how I’d do that [laughs]
IX: I know what you mean, man. Dealing with all these people and shit. Just gimme my money and run! [laughs]
[laughs] Yea, it’s always weird when like politics get involved when it comes to music, ‘cus you’re so focused on a certain way of making music and a certain way of being creative.
IX: Yea, so with Last Gang, they’re not affecting your creative process at all?
Nope, not at the moment! I don’t think they’re going to actually. James, the A&R guy, the way he explained it is fine, and he has not been on my ass about anything, right, it just seems very chill.
IX: Seemingly, they like your style or they wouldn’t really fuck with you.
Yea, so it’s like at the same time, I’d like to be professional about it and not just like sit around and not do anything [laughs] and last second do something for them. And hopefully, I’ll be able to do remixes ‘cus a few of my idols are on Last Gang like Ryan Hemsworth and MSTRKRFT.
IX: OK cool. So you got a cool style. What’s your favourite spot in Toronto to shop?
Oh that’s a damn good question! If I could afford it, it would probably be a place called Muttonhead. I just love all their stuff! Recently, we just shot a music video for Scion Sessions and the stylist was asking if there’s anything I wanted. I was like, “I want the Muttonhead baseball pants!”. I forgot to wear them, they’re just like sooo nice! Besides that, like Value Village [laughs]. Just ‘cus it’s like, oh wow. You can find like gear and shit sometimes at Value Village!
IX: Umm, what’s it called… Oh yea! What are your three favourite spots to eat in Toronto?
OH! Ok, that’s a good one. I guess like King’s Diner is one of them, it’s near my house. I have like three things I get there: the fish and chips, the ham and mushroom swiss, and a clubhouse. Those are the three things I get there.
IX: OK next spot.
Uhh next spot… haaan… I don’t eat out much! Well, there’s a place called the Goof in the Beaches, the Garden Gate. It’s like, CLEARLY frozen Chinese Food [laughs] it’s just, I don’t know, I grew up going to that place. I still like the food, I always get the chicken balls when I go there, off the chain! And last place, hmm… I’m going to have to say North of Brooklyn Pizzeria! Like the best pizza in town!
IX: Dope! Umm so… do you have any collaborations you can talk about?
Yea, no, totally dude! Now that I think about it… OH! There’s one, hopefully, but there’s a guy named Maxo, he’s CRAZY and I really wanna collab with him.
IX: What does he do?
He makes just like really weird, video game stuff. But it’s just some shit you’ve never really heard. Almost is like… what are they calling it? Like, future EDM and stuff, glitter trap? I don’t really like the name glitter trap, it sort of pisses me off.
IX: Yea, I don’t like that. They’ll call anything anything.
[laughs] Yea, any sub-genre you can think of. It should be just left at electronic music, in my opinion.
IX: Yea, a lot of people don’t go to it for the music though.
What do you mean?
IX: Like fans and shit. A lot of people don’t go to EDM shows for the music, right?
Oh yea, yea, totally, I know what you mean, like big festivals and shit?
IX: Yea, as a musician myself, I don’t really wanna play that shit, it’s a little disturbing…
Yea, it’s a little fucked. It’s like, you can whatever you want there, as in anything that’s almost “big room” sounding and just has loud synths with a drop. After the drop, you can play maybe thirty seconds of a song and then people will be cool with that and then can you can just do it all over again for like an hour.
IX: And the weird part is like, if you play even more than that, they might NOT be cool with that! [laughs] It’s like, shit, play the next song already! Where’s the next drop?!
[laughs] The thing about those festivals is that they pay like, you know, money that you can live comfortably off of. The thing is, the EDM festivals I probably wouldn’t end up at. But the other sort of festivals that are still like electronic music-based, I actually hope to end up at at some point in time.
IX: Yea, like there was this techno festival called Movement in Detroit that seemed really interested. Really low-key, all the shows were right next to each other. Apparently it went off! So any other collabs you can talk about?
Uhh, not at the moment, but they’re gonna be good! [laughs]
IX: OK dope. Any closing words, any shoutouts you wanna make?
Any shoutouts… oh…
IX: Shout out Kount Koal?
Yea, shout out to Kount Koal! I’m seeing him today! You know him?
IX: Yea, yea! He’s homies with my homie TallBoy and TallBoy, I been working with forever. He lives in Montréal now.
Oh yea! Sebastien! That’s his actual name. Yea, he went to Rosedale. Koal’s apparently coming over today. Shout out to Kount Koal, and another great producer that I didn’t mention, I didn’t put him on my top three ‘cus he doesn’t have like a shit ton of music. Honourable mentions: Bo En. He makes some of the coolest. Music. Ever. Yea, I love it so much.
IX: Alright cool! Well, I’m not gonna wrap you up all day, that’s about it!