Josh Harris is a producer, remixer, and DJ. He spent 2008 working alongside Seal for several private performances in the US and abroad. While on the road, he worked on remixes for both Seal and Alannis Morrisette. He and songstress Ilona Europa worked together in Poland and are currently set to take their “Rocktronica” show to the Laserium Cyber Theater in Los Angeles. Josh is also working with Mike Rizzo, and the two are now producing and remixing under the moniker Groove Police.
Harris has a degree in music with an emphasis on music theory and composition. He has been part of over 200 remixes as either producer,programmer or engineer. Josh holds a Bachelor of Arts in music, with an emphasis in theory and composition from Lawrence University, Appleton, Wisconsin. Here is what Josh had to say to Maximum Ink.
Maximum Ink: What was it like to take classical piano lessons at age 7? What led you to that? Did you always know you wanted to work in the music industry?
Josh Harris: I started taking classical piano at age 7 because my best friend was taking lessons, and I think I felt a bit left out! My first piano teacher was very strict and the whole experience was a bit intense, but I stuck with it until I was 11. Then, I started getting into synthesizers and I became more interested in writing and creating my own music than staying on the classical path. When I was 15, I attended a 5 week summer program at Berklee College of Music, and that’s when I decided that music was going to be my profession. So, I got back into classical lessons, so that I could properly audition for college. My parents wanted me to attend a liberal arts school that also had a music school, and that’s how I wound up going to college at Lawrence University.
MI: Who where some of your influences?
JH: As a teenager, I was heavily influenced by Progressive Rock. Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman were my idols back then. Those guys are monster players and they were doing things with keyboards that nobody else was doing. They were really pushing the envelope.
MI: You are a producer, programmer, and engineer. Which of the three do you enjoy most and why?
JH: That’s an interesting question and I think it really depends on the day of the week and the project. I hear music finished in my head, and so producing has always been my main focus. Programming and engineering were born out of necessity to get the music out of my head and recorded.
MI: What was it like to have your work used on America’s Top Model and MTVs Room Raiders and Damage Control?
JH: ATM was the show that aired any of my music. Sure, it’s a 5 to 15 second cue, but it’s still cool to hear your track on TV. The MTV shows are fantastic because they re-run them so often! That helps the performance royalty check!
MI: What was it like to work with Seal? How do private performances most differ from public ones?
JH: Seal is a great guy. He is one of the few famous artists that I have worked with who I really like as a human being. He treats his people very well and he’s a lot of fun to be around. I was a fan of his from day one and it was pretty surreal to wind up performing on stage with him. What I loved most about that experience was that he allowed me to bring my ideas to the table. I really respect that. As for the performances, private shows can be a blast, if the crowd is the right kind of crowd. I do remember one show at the Paramount Theater in LA, where we performed for a corporate event. I won’t name the company, but some of the older crowd was falling asleep during ‘Kiss From A Rose’. Seal doesn’t let that stuff phase him. He’s ready perform to a room of 10 or a room of 10,000.
MI: Is there any specific moment for you musically that has stood out in your mind?
JH: I would say that one of the coolest moments for me was the first time I heard my music on the radio. The very first remix that I worked on was with Mike Rizzo back in 2001. We remixed S-Club 7’s ‘Never Had A Dream Come True’. Although that mix was never officially accepted by the label (I don’t believe), it was a huge hit on New York’s WKTU that summer.
MI: Can you tell us a little about “Rocktronica”? What is it like to work with Ilona Europa?
JH: From a musical standpoint, Rocktronica is a mixture of rock and electronic, and our take on that leans pretty commercial. Ilona has been singing for years and she has a great voice. She writes great hooks and gives me room to do what I do on the production side. I write as well, but Rocktronica is made of mostly her songs.
MI: Other than music what are some of your hobbies?
JH: Next to music, I love fitness. I work out a lot and live a very healthy lifestyle. I also take martial arts. All of that helps me stay grounded in a business that is very mentally taxing at times.
MI: If you could work with anyone who would it be? Why?
JH: Peter Gabriel. He has a brilliant way of fusing music and theater. Just watch some of his concerts and you’ll see why. He’s such an inspiration to me.
MI: What projects can fans of your work look forward to next? Where should they go for the latest on that?
JH: I have been working with a new group, called Databoy. Cameron and Adam make up the duo, and they are very talented writers, singers and producers. Nothing is released just yet, but we will probably self-release a song very soon. There are some other things in the works that I can’t discuss at this moment. I am focusing heavily on original material these days.