Abode2 Interviews Pop Genius Calvin Harris

10.04.16

Primed for another season on the White Isle, Abode2 catches up with geek-to-sleek DJ Calvin Harris and discover what’s next for the EDM genius

It’s fair to say that Calvin Harris is a big jumper. From humble beginnings as a supermarket shelf stacker, his meteoric rise to King Pin DJ is a head-scratching tale from the pop electro music landscape. Harris’s natural interest and penchant for dance music was nurtured when he was given a computer complete with music software in his youth. After finishing school, he set his heart on becoming a musician, saving up money while working in his hometown of Dumfries, Scotland with the aim of eventually relocating to London.

He moved there in 2003 with £4,000 and the hope that he could find singers to accompany instrumentals he’d created from his bedroom. But after a fruitless year where he burned through all his cash, he moved back home at the age of 21 and went back to donning the grocery store uniforms. “I was just thinking, that’s probably it, that’s my attempt,” he reflects. The internet, however, provided a second chance. Signing up for Myspace as a creative outlet while living at home, Harris sent off songs and demos to people he thought were loosely connected to the music industry. His Manager Mark Gillespie, who had previously worked as a talent buyer for British clubs, was one of them. He added Harris as a friend on the social network – and eventually agreed to manage him after the artist scored a deal with EMI music.

“Bizarrely within that month I signed a music deal and I stacked my last shelf at Marks and Spencer,” he recalls. Though Harris began his career as a singer and built up a considerable following overseas, he admits he has never felt comfortable on stage with a backing band. “Following two albums and various tours, I decided to stop everything and return to what made me happy: writing songs and producing music.”

Around that same time, he started to pick up a few odd DJ sets at a time when the EDM craze was just beginning to emerge across the Atlantic in the states. “He moved in both folds for a while and felt more comfortable behind a set of turntables than on a stage,” says Gillespie. “He made what felt to everybody like a natural evolution at the perfect time.”

Ironically, Harris’s quest for respect in the song writing world is exactly what has propelled him to the top of the top-earning DJ list, raking in a cool $66 million to date. His recent deal with Sony/ATV Music publishing, has earned him a sizable advance too. That, combined with endorsements, production deals and song royalties, easily places him above the second-placed Tiësto, who took in $32 million.

Now settled in Los Angeles, he takes great amusement at the six-story likeness of him stuck on the side of the Las Vegas MGM Grand, where he is king of the nation’s largest nightclub with a contract to play there for the next two years. And with a wedge of greenbacks in the bank, it’s probably safe to say he won’t be returning to his grocery store gig anytime soon.

THE CALVIN CHARTS

Listed in 2014 FORBES’ Celebrity 100 and rising 47 places – he is the world’s top-earning DJ, with a $66 million paycheck last year. He currently holds the record, surpassing Michael Jackson, for the most top ten hits off of one studio album on the UK singles chart. He had nine top ten singles off of the album “18 Months.”

Among dance music artists, he’s found the most success crossing over to the realms of pop music working with the likes of Rihanna, Katy Perry and Ellie Goulding. His global popularity has him playing headline gigs not only at EDM-focused events like Electric Daisy Carnival, but also
at festivals like Coachella.

‘Motion’ Calvin’s fourth studio album, went straight to the top of the album charts when released in October 2014 – top tunes include the former Big Top 40 number one ‘Blame’ with John Newman, and the HUGE anthem ‘Summer’.

He recently scooped up nods at the MTV EMAs and the American Music Awards and has also been nominated for a BRIT award.

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