A Minute With: Scottish DJ Calvin Harris hits big time in U.S.

Piya Sinha-Roy
Reuters Middle East

* New single "Sweet Nothing" with Florence Welch out now

* Album "18 Months" released in November

LOS ANGELES, Dec 5 (Reuters) - Scottish DJ Calvin Harris may

not be the most recognizable face in the U.S. music scene, but

after writing Rihanna's biggest chart hit and with two other top

20 singles, Harris is fast becoming a chart staple.

Harris, 28, found success in the UK over the last five years

before storming the Billboard Hot 100 earlier this year with "We

Found Love," a dance-infused dark love song featuring Rihanna's

vocals that became one of 2012's biggest hits.

The DJ, who released album "18 Months" in November featuring

other hits "Feels So Close" and "Let's Go," sat down with

Reuters to talk about his U.S. breakthrough.

Q: Did you ever think "We Found Love" was going to be one of

the biggest hits in the U.S. this year, and what do you think of

the growing British presence in the U.S. music charts?

A: "I hoped that it would do really well, but you can't

predict writing Rihanna's biggest-ever record, else you're an

egomaniac. Couldn't have predicted that - that was a surprise.

It's nice that British music is getting played over here, it

seems like everyone has a more even playing field than before."

Q: Why do you think dance music is becoming such a big part

of the U.S. scene?

A: "The people to thank are probably the Black Eyed Peas and

Lady Gaga. They were the first two American mainstream acts to

have that house beat in their songs, whereas before, it was all

hip hop. I remember Ne-Yo, when 'Closer' came out ... and it

bombed here but in the UK it was number 1, it was massive ...

Black Eyed Peas' 'I Got a Feeling' and (Lady Gaga's) 'Poker

Face' that was pushed really hard, and once they were huge, huge

hits ... radio stations wanted more and there was plenty of it

because it's been going on for years."

Q: There are a lot of DJs coming into the mainstream scene

now. How do you make yourself stand out in a saturated market?

A: "I like making dance records with lyrical depth. I also

like the music to sound rich and full and have real instruments,

and not be that kind of synthetic sound, combined with lyrics

about popping bottles, being in the club ... I like them to be

the sort of lyrics you can find in another genre because I think

dance music historically, the lyrics have been banal and I'm not

into that. I like making actual songs but also something that

still works on the dance floor."

Q: Your new album "18 Months" has songs that span different

sounds within the dance-pop genre. Were any tracks challenging?

A: "The two most challenging mixes were the tracks with

Example and Florence (Welch), because I think the key is to make

it sound like there isn't that much going on when actually there

is ... it was a more difficult mix because it was more dynamic."

Q: Some critics say that you use well-known artists like

Rihanna or Florence just so you can get hits. What do you say to

people who think you've sold out?

A: "Critics don't buy albums, they're also almost 90 percent

either failed musicians or they don't know better than anyone

else. Also, I don't like them. What's the point of a critic? ...

I 'sold out' when I signed a major record deal, which was in

2006. People didn't say I sold out then ... so don't accuse me

of selling out now. It's very very late to do that.

"If Florence Welch wants to do a track with me, I'm going to

say no and use someone unknown? ... I want to do a track with

people I like, not people I haven't heard of before."

Q: Some of your music videos have been provocative. "We

Found Love" features domestic abuse and drug use, and Florence

Welch's "Sweet Nothing" has violence. Do you think music videos

have to provoke to be noticed?

A: "I like videos to be seen by all and the guy who's done

my videos since 'Bounce,' Vince Haycock, I forever censor him

... But recently, I've let him do whatever he wants and it's

more fun, I've discovered, to make whatever video he wants to

make ... I guess you're more likely to get more views if someone

is getting smacked in the face with a chair ... 'Sweet Nothing'

was great, but there was a lot that was cut out, like a brutal

fight scene at the end ... it got cut out because I couldn't

watch it, and the soundtrack was my music. There's obviously a

boundary. I've not had any naked people in my videos yet."

Q: A lot of DJs are now collaborating with brand names in

sponsorship deals. Are you doing anything similar?

A: "I'm genuinely just making music, I'm trying to make it

good. I know these guys with their headphones and their logos

and their gimmicks - you can take that route but I think it's

just added pressure to uphold something ... Other people do it

much better than me because they're more like personalities."

(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy, editing by Jill Serjeant and Nick


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