Calvin Harris

We chat to Calvin Harris at Bestival about pilfering Jack Daniel's and how hard Beastie Boys are.

Posted 14th September 2007 in Features & Reviews | By Achal Dhillon

Calvin Harris is a Scottish bloke who made that really awesome song that goes "It was acceptable in the 80s" early this year, in the song of the same name. He then went on to make subsequent new wave chart-busting tunes, namely 'The Girls', in which he discusses his general sexual predatory powers, and 'Merrymaking at My Place', of which the events surrounding the single's release were held in uproar by parents up and down the country. Don't know what the hell I'm talking about? Then let the man himself explain. Clickmusic took a trip to the wonderful Isle Of Wight for Bestival and caught up with Mr. Harris backstage for a chat about tents, robbing Jack Daniel's, things that we're"obviously not going to print", and how hard the Beastie Boys actually are.

Aright Calvin?
Alright. Well, actually, I just broke my artist wristband, which means I won't be allowed backstage ever again, so I'll probably have to cancel the performance.

How's your summer been?
Um, it's been pretty good. I think.

You "think"? Was it that good?
Well, was it? I just don't know. Maybe it was that bad. But I've had a lot to drink, to ease the pain.

Oh, Calvin, no...
I think it was about 90% good. Or maybe 80.

80s eh? We've got a question about those later on...
Oooohhhhhh! Fuck's sake, I know what you're gonna ask. But yeah, continue.

How does Bestival compare to the plethora of other festivals that you've played in this pitiful excuse of a summer we've had?
It's kinda the same, but different. I mean, it's still outdoors, and there are bands playing. But there are more people in daft hats, that's the norm at this particular festival. The only downside so far is that we had to grovel to get our Jack Daniel's in.

You should've just hid it in your sleeping bag, that's what we.... I mean, that's what some guys we know did.
Oh, I mean we were trying to blag it for free from the onsite bar.

You're thieving JD?
No... not as such. We asked for it and they [the festival organisers] gave it to us for free. It's good to get it for free.

Yeah, it just tastes better. Like, the secret added ingredient is the 'Free-ness'.
Exactly. Also, we drank all our Jack Daniel's on the bus on the way here, and there's not an off-licence around here for miles. Although we did pass a massive ASDA on the way, but we were already about 5 hours late as it was.

That doesn't leave a lot for anyone else to drink though does it? I mean, the Beastie Boys might be slightly gutted, I heard they love JD.
Do they? I guess you're right, they probably do the shots. They dont look like beer men.

Who are you looking forward to seeing this weekend?
I was really up for seeing The Chemical Brothers, but then I've literally just found out we're on at the same time as them. There are a few others tomorrow and on Sunday, like Primal Scream.

Are you camping? Or living it up in a hotel?
Oh we've never done a hotel at a festival. We usually have a bus that we stay on. So we got here last night, slept on the bus, got up...

Took a shit?
Yep, shit, shower and a shave. Then I, uh, had a little drink.

Are you gonna be wearing a costume this weekend? How will people be able to recognise you?
They can recognise me by my wearing a t-shirt with song lyrics. From my own song. We set off for this festival about two days ago, but I found out this morning that I had only packed two t-shirts and this hoodie. I don't know how it happened. I thought a while ago that I was getting really good at packing, but evidentally I'm not. Instead, I'm not packing at all, and just thinking I'm really good at it. So I've got no alternative clothes. I'm all up for repping myself, but if I had a choice I'd wear something different. Still though, it's a pretty good t-shirt.

'Merrymaking At My Place' is your latest single. You ran a competition to coincide with it to play someone's house party. What happened, did it go ahead?
Yeah it went ahead. I mean we went to a house party. I think it was just the one out of god knows how many entries. The idea was that they throw these parties simultaneously, and I'd just turn up to one of them randomly. Still don't know if the others went ahead to be honest. I don't really care. Anyway, we turned up to one, and it was really good; she won and she got money and the fucking whole show coming to her house. Didn't really help the single very much though.

Oh, was it not your idea as a marketing ploy?
Oh god no! No, it was, uh, the marketing department of Sony BMG. [Calvin and I share some informative dialogue, at this point, about the internal state of affairs of certain companies that I am not at liberty to discuss. As big a mouth as I have, and as much as I would love to reveal some tasty industry secrets, Calvin has placed me under a duty of confidence regarding this information, and I'm worried he'll "do me", as he puts it, if I break this duty. What he means exactly by "doing me" remains to be discovered, but I imagine he's learnt some nasty ninja moves in Scotland. I'm just not willing to take the risk of physical punishment at the hands of a pop star, nor the legal action that might ensue for breaching this confidentiality. Sorry folks.]

As a result of this competition, and the press coverage it received as targeting underage kids and encouraging them to throw parties in their parents' house when they're not looking, do you get on with parents in general?
Yeah. I get on with my own parents, and the winner of the competition, her parents were actually there, and I got on fine with them. You've just gotta be nice to people. If you're nice to people, they tend to be nice back. Unless they're dicks. But that's how you find out if they're dicks or not.

You were getting a bit of a bad rep in certain music publications though.
Well, the NME were just reporting on what the Guardian had said, and then it just blew up in a really funny way. They said I was a 'hate figure' for parents, a self-styled one at that.

And are you?
I'd like to think I am, but it's just not true. I mean, there are a lot of people who hate me, but it tends not to be parents, more people my age who are male.

You might find this humorous or not - what was acceptable in the 80s that isn't today?
Nah, that's not very funny.

You sure? Not even a little bit?
Yeah. I've had that question loads of times. The idea that people seem to get, including yourself sadly, is that there were certain things acceptable in the 80's that aren't now. But the answer's in the question basically.

Who would win in a fight between the Beastie Boys and Gossip?
Beastie Boys.

Think about this now...
Oh I am. The lead singer from Gossip is clearly hard, but the other two... they're not doing much are they? Especially the guy on guitar. Oh yeah, they're terribly nice, but then I didn't try to fight them. I'm not a fighter myself, so either any member of Beastie Boys or Gossip would totally destroy me one-on-one. As far as any battle between those two bands, objectively I have to say Beastie Boys would win. They probably have greater access to more weaponry.

Is that because they're from the mean streets of Brooklyn?
They're not. They're from the suburbs. Yo.

Are you a fan of Tim Westwood's, um, work?
Yeah, I love Tim Westwood. He's fucking amazing. I did this video from The Big Weekend, it's kind of a festival. So I went for a wander pretty much going up to everyone I recognised in the artists' area, and you know those trademark glasses I wear? Well, I was going up to everyone, putting them on them, and then asking if I could film them. So I went up to Westwood, and he was just so up for it, he just grabbed them - he wouldn't wear them mind, he just said, "well, I'll hold them". He just did his whole Westwood thing on camera, going "Yes, Time Westwood, coming at you live from The Big Weekend, brrrrap". That sort of thing is cool. I used to listen to him all the time back in the day too. He's a legend.

In ten words, why should people see you above the Chemical Brothers?
We're new! And we've got tunes you can sing along to!