Harrison brings vibrant beats

The 19-year-old Toronto producer brings glitter, pastels and vocals by Maddee to his new EP, Colors.

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Harrison. Photo by Maddee Ritter

Toronto’s Harrison makes bright music for dark clubs.

The 19-year-old producer’s debut EP, Colors, is vibrant and chipper without being overstuffed with fluff. And while it might be commonplace to hear chiptune bleeps during a DJ set, it’s not often you’ll get Yoshi stomping and Koopa shell-kicking samples accompanying slinky house beats. Harrison called upon someone even younger than him – fellow Torontonian Maddee – to sing on three of the EP’s five tracks.

As soft as all this sounds, Colors is an assured debut that’s comfortably perched on its cloud.

“It’s glittery and 8-bit,” explains the producer, real name Harrison Robinson. “When I started making music, it was basically because I got dumped and I wanted to distract myself, so my music wasn’t happy at first. It got progressively happier.”

The unabashed ebullience of Colors and its soft-coloured, rounded visual style – the Adventure Time-esque artwork courtesy of Kimmy – is a combination one might find too precious for the club, where beats are hard and bodies are banging.

“Lighting’s a very big deal,” Harrison admits. “If you have the right light show, it can work.”

It also helps if showgoers feel as nostalgic about certain video game soundtracks as he does.

“When you play video games, a lot of the time it’s at the end of the day and you’re looking to escape reality,” he explains. “And with video game scores, you might remember where you were and who you were with when you heard it. I’ll remember playing certain games for hours and not thinking about anything else. That’s what I like to do with music, because sometimes you’re in a shitty place and you want to hear something that will cheer you up.”

Prior to the release of Colors, Harrison dropped the single “Down, B, Up, B,” which could be considered the musical equivalent of being in a squishy mosh pit full of Yoshis. His gaming credentials extend even further thanks to an appearance with Internet-scavenging YouTube-curators Artzie Music. His edit of ’80s synth soul track “Sure Ain’t News” ended up being paired with a head-nodding Sonic the Hedgehog to humorous effect. At one point he was even called Harrison.jpeg, but his meme-art days would appear to be over.

“Oh, the funk edits. The ’80s stuff. The good stuff,” he recalls with a laugh. “I’m over sampling, but at the same time I wish I could do it and get sample clearance. I’ll eventually try to make a full-sampled funk album, but at the end of the day no one wants a lawsuit.” ■


Harrison launches the Colors EP with Dead Horse Beats, Birthday Boy and Jarryd Torff at Newspeak (1403 St-Elisabeth) on Saturday, April 11, 10 p.m., free before midnight, $5 after