Calvin Harris Says Pharrell Encouraged Him to Sing, Talks Working With Big Sean and Rihanna

Calvin Harris photographed in 2015
Gavin Bond

Calvin Harris

Zane Lowe gets all the best interviews. We still think about his legendary chat with Kanye West when Yeezus released. He's got the sauce that makes people want to be honest.

On Sept. 15.  he gave that treatment to the highest-paid DJ in the world, Scottish heart-throb Calvin Harris. Speaking on Beats 1 Radio, they touched on a number of subjects, including the fact that Harris has been heating up the old mic skills.

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“I'm trying to work hard to do it more because also, in tandem with that, theres a lot of DJ producers and I look at myself and I think, 'what do I have to offer that they don’t?'” Harris says. “Actually, Pharrell told me something about hitting the notes. Occasionally people try to persuade me to sing again, and he was one of those people. He said some of the most memorable and character voices, that we have, including himself, it’s not about hitting the notes, is it? It's about getting the emotion and the feeling and the character across. Once he said that to me I started looking at myself, like my voice differently, 'cause I was like hmm, someone like him picked up on that.”

He spoke on his long-term collaborative relationship with Rihanna and her work on latest hit “This Is What You Came For," as well as a forthcoming collaboration with Big Sean.

“The other day Big Sean sent me an acapella he’s working on his album, he sent me an acapella and a piano stem and he said, can you finish this track?" Harris says.  "BPM was 130 but he wanted to speed it up, so I sped it up for a bit. Halftime, I mean I tell people it's just music but it'd very different to what people would come to expect. I got to play a bass line on it, got to do things I used to be able to do. I really enjoyed that and I want to do more of that.”

The juiciest tidbit, though, might be his idea for a tell-all, honest-to-gosh EDM documentary, when all this hype and popularity has finally blown over.

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“Like real documentary in about 20 years when everyone is done,” he says. “You know get the Swedes, Afrojack, Aoki, Hardwell and really just to really talk about EDM between the years of 2011 and 2014. I believe I had the last EDM song that was successful and it was “Summer” that was the last song that sounded like EDM that got in the charts. That’s the last EDM riff that was successful. Those are the years. It’s those three years and to hear just honest, honesty."

After Lowe asks "Why twenty years why not twenty weeks?" Harris responds: "Nah, because I want everyone to be old and I want nobody to care anymore about telling the truth or not because I could say all sorts of incredible stories to you know but I can’t.”

Watch video excerpts from the interview below:


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