Zane Lowe spoke with Calvin Harris on Beats 1 about his new single ‘My Way’, working with Big Sean, talking Rihanna’s vocal, answers Frank Ocean’s questionnaire and about opening a gym, yup!
On the studio:
It’s almost like a prison you’d be held in the future, like a holding room, but with a great audio system.
On “My Way”
I always said if someone asks me what the song sounds like, I say, its an exact middle ground between Frank Sinatra and Fetty Wap, its right in the middle. [Zane: slightly broken voice] If you compare it to ‘Summer’ it’s actually a little bit cleaner. ‘Summer’ was me coughing for about a day and then recoding the vocal. Cause there’s only so far you can go with a voice like mine, you know there’s a limited range.
On what Pharrell said to him:
Actually Pharrell told me something about hitting the notes… I say this because he’s on Beats 1.
Occasionally people try to persuade me to sing again and he was one of those people. He said some of the most memorable and character voices, that we have, including himself, it’s not about hitting the notes, is it, its about getting the emotion and the feeling and the character across.
Once he said that to me i started looking at myself like, my voice differently cause I was like hmm, someone like him picked up on that.
On singing more:
Yeah, Im trying to work hard to do it more because also, in tandem with that theres a lot of DJ producers & I look at myself & I think what do I have to offer that they don’t. What can I do that they can't because you know, we all pretty much do the same thing.
On working with Big Sean:
[Zane: What motivates you to make another song?] Just anything really, the other day Big Sean sent me an a cappella he's working on his album, he sent me an a cappella and a piano stem and he said, can you finish this track? BPM was 130 but he wanted to speed it up, so I sped it up for a bit. Halftime, I mean I tell people its just music but its very different to what people would come to expect. I got to play a bass line on it, got to do things I use to be able to do. I really enjoyed that and i want to do more of that… [Zane: “How Deep Is Your Love” - favorite song from you.]
Calvin talks about the Rihanna vocal on “This is What You Came For”
In the end she recorded the vocals in New York (Rihanna). [Zane: Is she your favorite to work with?]1000% She's incredible. She was gonna do it in LA. She didn’t, she couldn’t. She had to finish her album. So it got pushed back a couple months and then there was a day in New York, or like some hours in New York that she had free because she was on tour at the time as well. I said well ok we didn't get the vocal last time, I’m gonna fly over to New York and just make sure that I get it because I really want it today. This is the only day she has on tour if it’s not today it’s another two months, so can I come over. So I checked into the Mercer and I waited for her engineer to call me. Her engineer didn’t call me [laughs] and then I was texting him and I was like ‘is she there yet’ she wasn’t there yet. In the end it was four am I feel asleep. I woke up at like eight to three texts from him and he was like ‘we got it. It’s great, let me get everything together for you. And you can come pick i tup tomorrow.’ So he finished at two, my flight was at four. We left the hotel, I had this brown bag with a hard drive in it. We drove to the studio, we heard the vocal once. I’m like ‘that’s great’ they put it on the hard drive, I put it in my bag, we drive around the corner to the helipad, we take off in the helicopter to the airport and I have this priceless vocal in my brown bag . Get on the plane, I sat it there opposite me in the seat, I looked at it and I was just like that was like a bank heist. That felt incredible, knowing that I had the most important vocals that I’ve ever got and it felt amazing.
I would’ve waited 6 months for it.
Making full collab albums with artists
[Zane: Does it wet your appetite to do something ore long form with her?]I don’t know if I’m capable of that. I like the sound of a single. It’s almost like a problem.
Touring / Festivals
[Zane: You have taken the idea of being a producer to a new level. Swedish House Mafia did as well. You were next generation.You’ve headlined twice. Are you happy?]In terms of live…no where else to go. I don’t want to go on tour. [Zane: No gigs at all.] You probably stop a bit. I just want to make music. [Zane:You have that control now] In a way I like doing gigs so theres a reason to leave my house. I like my kitchen.
[Zane: How do you factor the live in?] A lot of DJs have pressure now. Sometimes that doesn’t always work in live environment. Everyone is trying to figure it out.
On the EDM Documentary he wants to see 20 years from now:
I was saying the other day it’d be great to do an EDM, truth-telling, like real documentary in about twenty years when everyone is done. You know get the Sweds, Afrojack, Aoki, Hardwell and really just to really talk about EDM between the years of 2011 and 2014. I believe I had the last EDM song that was successful and it was “Summer” that was the last song that sounded like EDM that got in the charts. That’s the last EDM riff that was successful. Those are the years. It’s those three years and to hear just honest, honesty. [Zane: Why twenty years why not twenty weeks?] Nah, because I want everyone to be old and I want nobody to care anymore about telling the truth or not because I could say all sorts of incredible stories to you know but I can’t.
Not playing at EDC
[Zane: lot more smoke..a lot less firework.] Events are still amazing. Yea it wasn’t EDC. I couldn't play this. I liked it musically. [Zane: Making hit records. It’s a different thing.] It is.
Any Collaborations coming up / Working With Big Sean
[Zane: You’ve worked with…Newman. Goulding. Rascal.You’ve worked with amazing vocalists. Who would you work with? Who will you?] I’ve got nothing. I’ve got a lot of ideas. Staying away from sessions. I love people. I want to have an idea. I loved working with Big Sean. It was fun. First time I enjoyed working with someone and it not be a stressful situation.
How do you stay honest when everyone is looking for an “angle”
[Zane: No one wants to live their life in public. Relationship in public.] Not going to touch on that. [Zane: How honest can you be? When everyones looking for the angle.] I always write songs as an amalgamation of our lives. When I wrote we found love…it was a bout a feeling. It might have happened multiple times.
We found love / what that song was about
Found love wasn’t about walking into a club and looking for a girl. It could've been. It could be about doing repetitive jobs. I worked in a fish factory. It could be about finding love in a hopeless job like that. Wasn’t about a specific event. I can never be an autobiographical writer. I couldn’t tell you about specific events.