November 7, 2012
Harris gets a little help from Ri-Ri
By Jane Stevenson, QMI Agency
Calvin Harris has Ri-Ri to thank for his sudden massive mainstream popularity.
The Scottish-born singer-songwriter-deejay has a No. 1 album in the U.K. with his third disc, 18 Months, which features the Rihanna collaboration, We Found Love. That's the same track that became the biggest hit of her career when it was on her 2011 album, Talk Talk.
The We Found Love clip also went on to win video of the year for both artists at the 2012 MTV Awards.
Additionally, 18 Months, which is at No. 2 on iTunes in Canada (the biggest electronic artist debut this year after deadmau5), features songs with Florence and the Machine's Florence Welch, Ellie Goulding, Ne-Yo, and Kelis -- not to mention the Harris-performed Feel So Close, which won him a second MTV Award for best electronic video.
"People who like dance music already knew who I was," points out Harris, 28.
But the impact of the Rihanna connection was undeniable.
"Once the Rihanna thing did so well and it wasn't like cheap-sounding dance record, it still sounded good, it was quite a rich production, I think that's why the (other collaborators) liked it. And it had emotion in it as well. It wasn't just about being in the club and a lot of default lyrical ideas that pop-R&B singers use when they're doing dance music."
Harris says after his second album, 2009's Ready For The Weekend, he had no plans to make another and was instead interested in making singles and performing shows. Bounce featuring Kelis came first followed by his own Feel So Close.
When he sent We Found Love to Rihanna's camp to judge her interest in singing on it, the artist didn't want to change a thing.
"That was luck that she liked it and she got it," Harris says. "She was right."
Since he was a teenager growing up in Dumfries, Scotland -- where his parents still live -- Harris had dreamed of producing albums. He eventually scored early club hits that led to his debut album in 2007.
He's clearly a behind-the-scenes guy, admitting he'd rather talk about anything but himself like
"omlettes, council tax, whiskey, driving." He's barely in his own videos by his design. For example, Welch steals the show intially dressed as a man before she strips down to a bra in the clip for her Harris collaboration, Sweet Nothing.
"I'm in the videos for maybe five seconds in total in a four-minute video. I don't put myself out there as the guy."
Still, there was a brief Twitter spat with Lady Gaga after Harris was misquoted about a story dating back four years when her label sent his manager five songs for possible remix and he was unable to do it because he was on tour.
"I said no because it was physically impossible," Harris says. "Then somebody asked me about it last week, and then they reported it like it was Lady Gaga e-mailing me personally to ask for a collaboration like last week. So that got back to her, and for some reason - 'cause you would have thought things like that would have been water off a duck's back - she took it personally."