Canadian Musician - May/June 2023 | Page 39

learn ,” he says . “ Because with emulations and software , it ’ s like I can play keys . I can make this whole string ensemble with keys , but not with a guitar . So , I thought it was the most necessary instrument to learn .”
When asked about how his keyboard skills have progressed over the years , Harrison stays humble . “ I feel competent on the piano . And that ’ s all I really wanted to ever do was to sit and maybe practice a standard . And I think all the practice really did pay off because it ’ s such a euphoric experience . Being able to sit down and have this thing make noise was when you press the keys in . I don ’ t regret my practice at all , not one second . I was talking the other day to a friend about something that was excessive . And that ’ s just because I have an obsessive nature . But I don ’ t I don ’ t regret it at all . I feel like very competent on the piano . I don ’ t think I ’ d be able to play with a band . But I ’ m happy with the level on that . But I would not say I ’ m a good jazz pianist . But competent .”
Among the highlights of Birds , Bees , The Clouds & The Trees is a collaboration with two of Harrison ’ s musical heroes : Stones Throw MC ’ s M . E . D . and Guilty Simpson on the deeply bouncy and aptly titled “ Bump .” “ That instrumental was completely different after they sent me the vocals . I changed the beat after they sent back the verses because I sent them something else I ’ m like ‘ oh , I don ’ t like this .’ I didn ’ t like my instrumental so I changed it around .”
Another notable collaboration is with Toronto MC and recent Juno winner TOBi on the single “ Out of this World .” “ He ’ s a great artist , great songwriter , too . He knows how to write a hook . And he works very efficiently ,” Harrison says of TOBi .
The recording of Harrison ’ s latest album started in early 2022 and pivoted around the effervescent “ Around You ” which went viral on TikTok and is currently the most listened to instrumental song that he ’ s released . “ I wanted to make music like that for so long ,” he says . “[ The reception ] was extremely validating for me because I was worried about what people would think . This sounds very different from [ from my previous album ] Apricity . “ But even if it ’ s people listening in coffee shops or some shit , and numbers , who gives a shit about numbers , there is honestly some validation that people are really liking this song .”
Like its predecessors , Birds , Bees , The Clouds & The Trees was recorded in Harrison ’ s home studio with mixing done by Dave Plowman , and Harrison says that the production process was more carefree than previous efforts .
“ I wasn ’ t really worried about the structure just because everything that I was making at that time was sounding like it was meant to be on the album , whether that was consciously or

“ I know what I want my music to sound like , without any external validation .”

subconsciously , maybe it could have been my moods at the time . But it was honestly a pretty easy process . For me , it was more just the time it takes to do the collaborations , those can always take a long time . And the album was made pretty quickly , but the collaborations took a year or so .”
Reflecting on his journey from bedroom beatmaker to the esteemed producer and mature artist showcased on Birds , Bees , The Clouds & the Trees Harrison feels that he ’ s grown more assured . “ I ’ ve come in more confident . It took a long time , but I feel like I know what I want my music to sound like , without any external validation . I mean , the external validation is great , but I feel like I ’ ve just grown into myself as an artist . There ’ s this cringe phase and you just kind of power through it , and just be yourself . I think this music is like mostly just me being myself and not worried about much of what people might think .”
Harrison has been open about his ongoing battle with depression and he ’ s equally candid about how he ’ s dealt with the illness . “ I like a lot of video games and just talking to my friends on Discord . It ’ s very helpful to talk to my friends and stuff . [ While I ’ ve dealt with Seasonal Depression ] it ’ s now just depression — dealing with that . But I ’ m going to work through it . I have the privilege of being able to afford a therapist and just work through this stuff . And it ’ s not been a very linear journey . I ’ ll tell you that much . There ’ s been very bad downs and very good ups . And I don ’ t know , but it ’ s something I think I ’ ll just have to work on for the rest of my life . And that ’ s okay , though , because the ups are up .”
Matt Bauer is the Editor of Canadian Musician . He can be reached at mbauer @ nwcworld . com .