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Barry Harris Interview


Barry Harris

Barry Harris

Few dance music producers can claim the massive success that Barry Harris has achieved throughout his career as an innovator in pop and club music. Breaking into the international music scene with Kon Kan and the international number one pop and dance hit "I Beg Your Pardon," as a member of the megasuccessful Thunderpuss remix team with over thirty number one Billboard club hits, and as a solo producer creating the anthem "Dive in the Pool," Barry's success has spanned the eighties, nineties and the aughts. Taking a break from his current production slate, Barry is focusing on DJing and unafraid when it comes to speaking his mind about the realities of dance music.

DJ Ron: I looked at your website today and I noticed on your chart that instead of listing songs you're simply listing your favorite producers / remixers. How do you think this reflects on the state of the dance music industry?
Barry Harris: I think it's been like that for a long time. If you're looking for that kind of a style, you've always chosen your favorite remixers, whether it was Masters At Work or Junior in the 90s or whomever.

RS: Well it's a bold statement to say, to come out as a DJ and say you're following producers and remixers rather than artists and songs.
Barry: But everybody has for years, there's no difference now from how it was fifteen years ago, I don't think.

RS: I noticed there's a distinction you made between remixer and producer / remix on that list, how do you define the distinction?
Barry: Well, because a lot of it is a combo of both. Sometimes they'll do their own song and their own mix of it. Dance music has been a producer / remix game for years, but there isn't much difference between the two. Remixers have been producing the tracks themselves for years because they take an acapella and reinvent the entire wheel again. The R&B people are getting points because they create beats and the vibe and groove now. Outside of dance music, the producer has always been who surrounds you as far as arranging to record the vocals, lining up the session musicians, prepping the studio, doing the mixdown. Like a David Foster, the producer arranges the whole camp of people you work with, bringing in a saxophone player or a session musician. In dance music, a producer is sitting down in front of a sequencer with maybe another keyboardist, and then going from there. It can be considered producing and remixing, but it means also composing because you're rewriting the whole music, so it's all encompassing.

RS: Let's talk about Queer Eye For The Straight Guy which you've been really involved with. How did you get hooked up with that?
Barry: Well, we got hooked up from the very beginning because Chris and I submitted a theme song idea. At the same time my friends, Widelife, also did who got the gig with "All Things." So I was very close to everything from day one, also doing some of the background music. I'd met the original woman who was putting all the tracks together a couple of years earlier because she wanted to license "Dive in the Pool" for HBO. I hooked the Widelife guys up with her at the time, because they were looking for Canadian writers or songwriters.

RS: There is definitely a Canadian group of people you work with. I notice that you've been working with Rachid (of Widelife) and Simone Denny through the years on different projects.
Barry: We all go back before everybody blew up in their own way. Just like how Peter Rauhofer continues to go to Austria, nothing's changed, it's who you have roots with in history over the years.

RS: For the Queer Eye soundtrack, you remixed "All Things." How did you approach that remix?
Barry: I wanted to go darker on that, cooler and edgier but I was vetoed against that because they wanted it to be the happy, fun vibe that it was. Once again a record company told me what I needed to do and I did it because there are certain times when you do it and other times when you don't. But in this case I really wanted to help out and be a part of it because of the history with Rachid and Simone, it was very exciting to see all their success finally breaking through. It's long overdue for Simone to have broken into the States as well.

RS: Yes, definitely. It was quite funny, I talked to her about how she was hitting with "All Things" and "I Don't Want You" in the US while all the Love Inc records were coming back in the UK.
Barry: Well, the music business is unpredictable, funny and fickle, so you just have to run with whatever success is handed to you. The older you get the more you realize that. You spend your twenties and thirties trying to go and chase the dream that you were expecting it to be and the music business doesn't work that way and it takes you a while before you figure it out.

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