Filed under: Interview
To succeed in life it is important to have support from your family, so luckily for Quentin Harris he hooked up with one of the strongest families in the New York house scene, the Shelter family. After moving from Detroit to the clubbing haven that was New York, Harris found himself lured night after night to West 39th Street where his love for house music was solidified at Shelter Club. A short time later, thanks to India Arie, a demo CD and a well connected friend Quentin found himself producing and spinning records for none other than Timmy Regisford. Now with his residency at Shelter Club it comes as no surprise that the New York sound has taken hold of Quentin Harris’ music. However, you can take the boy out of Detroit but you can’t take Detroit out of the boy so whenever you go to hear Harris play you can expect to hear plenty of techno influence.
Far removed from both Detroit and New York, Quentin Harris was in Tokyo to support local talent Studio Apartment. As everyone knows, while a musician is on tour it is their prerogative to go on binges that lasts for days and spell irreparable damage. While Quentin Harris, like most, follows this doctrine his has a slight amendment. TVs through hotel room windows are replaced with shopping bags and any damage done is not centralized to his liver but more towards his back pocket. We coaxed him out of Tokyo’s boutique stores and miraculously managed to steer the conversation away from fashion for long enough to get a few words on music, Detroit and the New York club scene.
Interview & Introducion by Nick Lawrence (HigherFrequency)
Higher Frequency (HRFQ) : Is it your first time to Tokyo?
Quentin Harris : Yeah.
HRFQ : What do you think?
Quentin Harris : Sensory overload.
HRFQ : What have you been working on recently?
Quentin Harris : Musically I have been working on, well it’s finished now, my album called “No Politics” which reflects my views that there shouldn’t be any politics in the creation of music. Music is all relative and that’s basically the idea I’m going for.
HRFQ : Do you always attach a concept to your music?
Quentin Harris : UmcThis is the first time I’ve actually let people know there is a concept on the music but I always have some kind of concept when I am doing anything. For instance, now that I’ve finished the album I’m going to spend more time on producing artist albums because I feel that with the music I am currently making people don’t really take it seriously because there is no face to latch onto and it’s very DJ driven.
HRFQ : Was there a particular concept behind your remix of Studio Apartment’s ‘We are lonely’?
Quentin Harris: With the vocal mix that I did the concept was that the original was very lush and very pretty and I wanted to strip it down. Because when I got the vocals and I listened to what he was singing about there was actually a line where he is singing about jerking off. So I said, “I’ll just strip it down so everyone can hear it”.
HRFQ : How did you first get in touch with Studio Apartment?
Quentin Harris : Through Hisa at King Street Sounds actually. He wanted me to remix some songs. Some that he let me listen to I wasn’t really into but when I heard this song I liked it.
HRFQ : Do you see coming from Detroit as having any influence on your music?
Quentin Harris : Yeah there is a lot of influence from Detroit in my music. There is a techy aspect to my music and there is also a grittiness or a stripped down aspect. When I was growing up I was listening to a lot of Prince and a lot of funk so that aspect is in my music also.
HRFQ : Why did you move to New York?
Quentin Harris : Ah, because the industry was there and I felt that if I continued to stay in Detroit I wasn’t going to progress to where I wanted to be. I actually moved to New York because I was the producer of a group called the Masterminds who were based in New York. It was just becoming more and more difficult to produce for them while living in Detroit. I would feel crazy when I heard the mastered version of stuff I produced for them. I realized that if I was going to be part of the group then I would have to be there in the studio when the song was being mixed because I didn’t want to hear another one of my songs ripped to shreds.
HRFQ : And has your sound changed a lot because you moved?
Quentin Harris : I don’t think it has. There are a lot of records that I have done that just because of the way they were released people think that they are new. For instance I did ‘Traveling’ before ‘Cloud 9’ and ‘Traveling’ is four years old. So I think just like all producers I go through stages. Even when I was making hip hop, if you hear something that I did in 1990 compared to now, you’ll hear differences as you continue to listen but there are also similarities.
HRFQ : How did you move from hip hop to house?
Quentin Harris : Well, I haven’t really quite moved from it. But what happened was I was working with Mike Huckaby in Detroit and I was heavily into hip hop but was also going to a lot of house clubs but I wasn’t buying a lot of house records because I was a hip hop DJ and that was what I was making a living from. If I was to buy hip hop and house I would be broke every week. But for some strange reason house just started to take control. It was really solidified when I moved to New York.
HRFQ : What about the New York club scene now, do you still find it exciting?
Quentin Harris : For a while I found it to be kind of stagnant. Hip hop has really taken control of the club scene and things are very separate there now. But I think it is changing because a lot of big DJs like Junior Vasquez want to play more intimate venues because they feel they can connect better with the crowd and be more experimental as opposed to playing these huge superclubs. I just think that once that happens a lot of the superclubs will price themselves out. I have a problem with clubs that are franchised because to me they don’t have an identity. There’s a Crobar in Miami, there’s a Crobar in New York and there’s a Crobar in Chicago. It’s like McDonalds, you know what you’re going to get. What happened to the identity of the club? One of the major problems I find going out to clubs in New York is that with a lot of the big clubs it is so impersonal. You aren’t treated well when you get to the door, there is so much attitude and everyone is trendy. They wouldn’t know what DJ is playing, they wouldn’t know. I think if people are going to spend $30 or however much to get in and then they are going to pay expensive drink prices they don’t want to go out and get treated like shit.
HRFQ : You are quite famous as being part of the Shelter Family, how did you get to know Timmy Regisford?
Quentin Harris : It’s so funny that you ask that. This is the first time I have ever been asked that and I am so happy! When people ask Timmy how he found me he always tells them that I found him. When I was living in Detroit I had a job that enabled me to travel back and forth to New York and that’s how I got the bug. I would go to New York and I would club hop. I would go to Sound Factory, Limelight and I would go to Shelter. When I moved to New York I went to Shelter’s last party which was a Paradise Garage Anniversary party, they had Grace Jones performing and it was a mad house in there. Then they were closed for quite some time and when they reopened at West 39th Street I went to the first party. After that I couldn’t stop going, I just had to be there every week. At the time I was working at Satellite Records and so I produced this record ‘Ready 4 Love’ by India Arie and I was late one day because I remixed this record. I gave it to my friend Tyrone Francis and in turn he gave it to Timmy Regisford. He liked it and the rest is history.
HRFQ : Just to wrap things up, do you have a message for your Japanese fans?
Quentin Harris : Thank you. That’s the only thing I can say. Thank you so much for supporting my music.
End of the interview
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