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
PHOTO : LUIS MORA
“ 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 .”
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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 .
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