Calvin Harris ditches band for turntables and guest features

Calvin Harris had one concept in mind when working on 18 months – his latest album, which debuted in the second spot on iTunes in Canada last week – to focus on other singers’ voices.

“I just wanted to take the pressure off being a singer and a band guy, which wasn’t working out for me at all,” the Scottish DJ said while sitting on a couch in his room in a posh Toronto hotel. “I just wanted to make music and have fun again.”

After a gig in 2010, Harris said he told his band mates that he never wanted to sing or perform with a band again.

Instead, inspired by other dance music, he started working on songs for 18 months. The album is named after the length of time it took to produce the tracks, he said.

He wrote the song Bounce and asked singer Kelis to perform the vocals.

“I’m still indebted to her for doing that,” he said, adding that Kelis was reluctant because she thought it was a weird song.

Kelis’ vocals on the song let other artists know he was interested in collaborations.

Eventually, 18 months became a labour of many voices, including Rihanna, Ellie Goulding and Dizzee Rascal. We found love – his mix with R&B sensation Rihanna – became an instant hit. It topped music charts in 16 countries, including Canada.

Still, Harris said he is happy he stuck with his roots, since most of the featured artists on his album are from the U.K. “I think it’s kind of nice. It means I’ve not completely watered everything down and got American voices all over the place.”

Promoting the new album, Harris has played shows across Canada. This fall, he played in front of full houses in Calgary, Toronto, and London.

Harris’ favourite new song to perform at these shows has been Feel So Close - a track on which he sings. He said that is his pick because it gets the best reception from the fans.

For any possible future albums, Harris does not know if he will continue working with other artists in the same way. But, one thing is for certain.

“I’m definitely not going to be singing on things,” said Harris. “I definitely can’t stretch that across a whole album.”

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