We spoke to Calvin Harris at the launch of Xbox Reverb in London. Xbox Reverb is a series of intimate gigs taking place around the UK, where via Facebook and Twitter, fans have the chance to influence all aspects of the gig from DJ-ing on the night to designing the gig’s poster and much more. Visit www.facebook.com/xboxreverb or www.xbox.com/reverb to get involved.
EQ was invited to interview Calvin Harris about the special event with Xbox and to put some questions in front of the number one hit-maker himself. We didn't get much time with Calvin, but we sure packed a lot questions in the 8 minutes we did get with him. In this EQ interview – Calvin Harris talks about his reasons for being involved in the Xbox Reverb campaign, the Sugababes controversy, his thoughts on YouTube and Spotify and working with Kylie and Jake Shears. Enjoy!
EQ: So you must be pretty excited that "Ready For The Weekend" is doing quite well – what's been your favourite moment since you released the album?
Calvin Harris: My favourite moment was when it got to number one. It was number one for exactly seven days. Each one of those days was a good day in my life – yeah, I enjoyed that!
So you're here tonight promoting the Xbox Reverb Launch – what made you decide this was a cool project to get involved in?
It seemed like a good idea for two reasons. One – the fact that they are promoting new bands. There isn't enough new band promotion going on. There is a lot of big solo artists being promoted like through X Factor and things like that but, this is slightly different. It's something to promote new bands and it's not London based either, it's round the country. The second part is actually getting people involved, getting fans involved and getting them to pick the line-ups is quite innovative…
Are you a big gamer yourself?
Well, I try to stay off it because I get addicted – I've got an "addictive gaming personality" and a lot of these games are some of the best games you can get! When I play them, I spend a lot of time playing them when I should be making music, so I save it for days off, weekends, try to keep it to a minimum!
Do you feel like the worlds of gaming and music are starting to converge more?
It seems like it – I was told now you can get music videos through Xbox.
Really, I didn't know that?
Yeah, yeah! The worlds of music and gaming are now appearing to be blurring, which is kinda nice you know – it's a new way of getting music through to people.
You were recently in the spotlight about the whole YouTube debacle where they took music videos off for awhile- and now that they are back on, I'm just curious to see if you think the YouTube agreement that was made was a step in the right direction…
It's good that they're back on. For me personally I see it as a promotional tool. I don't think it's a money making resource. You get zero point zero one pence per play. I think I've made something like 15 pounds on YouTube, which is fine – it's not a negative amount. But at the same time, it's not enough to sustain any type of career or worthwhile income. So I wonder why it took eight months to reach that agreement. Things like Spotify and even iTunes even, things that pay such a minuscule royalty, I'm just like while you might as well not have one. YouTube is a promotional thing, where people go on there, they watch the video and go "alright I might buy the song now". I don't see it as a revenue source. When you monetize everything – it's pennies.
You must be happy though that at least you can go on there and see your own music video…
Yeah, that's the only thing I'm happy about as far as that goes. It'd be great if you could get a pound a play – that would be amazing [laughs]. But I do think, and I've thought this for awhile that a lot of these websites like Spotify and YouTube rely on other people's content and the only idea they've had is for the portal and for the content to come through – even iTunes. I find that a lot of owners of these companies, they just really take the piss in the sense that they hold the record labels to ransom saying "we'll only pay this amount for the content". It shouldn't be their decision because they are not providing the content. Whether it's music videos on YouTube or skateboarding dogs or kids fighting each other – the advertising revenue that comes from people watching those videos that other people have created goes straight to YouTube. I find that a bit odd. I just wonder why there are not more eyebrows raised over that system, but it seems to be the done thing. Which is wrong. If the music didn't exist, the website wouldn't exist. Spotify being the prime example. It think that's a piss-take.
I'm not completely sold on Spotify yet either…
I've never used it. I'm just aware of what it is. But that's it.
I have to ask you since your a prominent figure in pop music, what is your take on the whole Sugababes dibacle?…
I think, ultimately it's not about whether the band continues or the music continues. I think it's a moral thing. If in fact what's been said is true, if Keisha was pushed out behind her back…it's HER band! It's wrong. It's morally wrong. It's upsetting. It's ridiculous. There's not even a distinguishable brand as far as Sugababes goes anymore. That's changed over the past few years. They've become more American-ized. The best work that Sugababes did was when they were working with British producers. Things like "Overload" and "Stronger". Their first album was was amazing! That was a British production. "Get Sexy" is abysmal. It's one of the worst songs I've ever heard. If it was by anyone else, it would be as equally bad. It's just a bad song…if that is going to be their subsequent output, and I believe that's what it is, then they're fucked anyway. I think Keisha's probably best out of it.
I saw some Twitter pics the other day of you, Kylie and Jake Shears acting goofy…what was going on there?…
We were making some songs which was good. We had two days and we did two songs. That was it yeah. It was fun.
Fun day in the studio….
Yeeeahhhh, it was good. Kylie is great – I've worked with her before so it was nice to do that again. Jake – I've never met him before, but he's a really nice guy and it was just good fun!
Why is the Calvin Harris remix so "in-demand" right now?
I don't know. To be honest, it's got it's own sound. But the amount that I've done over the past few months suggests maybe that it's just got my named attached to it and I've been selling records recently. So that may be a good thing.
Any particular remix you've done that you've personally thought was amazing?
Passion Pit – I liked a lot. But this is why I've stopped doing them – I've been doing too many!
What's the hardest part of being Calvin Harris at the moment?
Just being really tall! Ducking to get into doorways and stuff…
How tall are you?
6"5 and three quarters…It's mainly that. There are some good sides. In the past week I've reached two high shelves for old ladies in service stations. So yeah, that's great!
Later that evening, Calvin performed a killer DJ set which involved lots of knob tweaking. Thanks to Nik T. for inviting us along to the event and giving us some face time with Calvin Harris.
If you haven't picked up a copy of Calvin Harris' number one album "Ready For The Weekend" you should – it's a great party album from one of the best UK producers at the moment.