It’s mid-morning in London and Calvin Harris has just woken up. The international DJ, producer and vocalist has been staying up late in the evenings and “keeping strange hours at the moment, very odd hours”.
Such are the rigours of touring and promoting his new album Ready for the Weekend.
“I haven’t been in the studio much at the moment,” he told Sydney Star Observer. “I’m mainly touring the new album so it’s gig-based stuff.”
Scottish-born Harris shot to fame in 2007 after being discovered on MySpace. He’s since become known for his retro electro and jack-of-all-trades songwriting, performing, DJing and producing ability.
Before cracking the music industry, Harris was packing shelves at Safeway and Marcs & Spencer, angling for a break.  The break arrived when he uploaded his music to his MySpace profile, but it was hardly a strategic move.
“It was kind of a last-ditch attempt as well,” he said. “I spent eight years sending CDs out and got absolutely nowhere. And then when I gave up and joined MySpace that’s when I got signed, which was weird.”
Harris is a dry, no bullshit kinda guy. At only 26, his eight years slogging it in order to capture the attention of the music industry have made him realise what’s important.
“It taught me another lesson — don’t just write things in order to get signed or to please other people. It never works out like that,” Harris said. “As long as you’re pleasing yourself and doing what you feel passionate about, then I think that shows. I don’t know how but I think it must.”
Playing by his own rules has also seen Harris garner a lot of media attention for challenging the music industry status quo. When a critic slammed his debut album I Created Disco, Harris spoke out against the verdict, refuting the critic’s right to criticise something he had poured his heart and soul into for years to create.
His tell-it-like-it-is attitude has also seen him dole out criticism to such celebrities as Kate Nash, Daniel Craig and Girls Aloud.
Perhaps this was all part of the adjustment to fame and merely a transition from writing songs in his Scottish bedroom to playing sell-out concerts while on tour in the UK. Harris is reluctant to analyse his experiences too much.
“It’s been definitely good, but it’s not something I think about too often,” he said. “It’s more that I’ve just got on with it. I don’t really reflect and it’s best not to because then you think you’ve achieved more than you actually have.
“Whereas, as I sit here now I’m thinking, ‘how can I take it a step further?’ If I reflect about what I used to do then I might be content with what I’m doing now. I don’t think that’s acceptable.”
Harris continues to push push himself into new terrain, consolidating his career as a singer-songwriter with his producing talent. Already notching up an impressive list of musical collaborations that include Dizzee Rascal, Sophie Ellis-Bextor and others, Harris famously turned down Lady Gaga when he heard her demo in 2008.
More recently, Harris has reunited with our Kylie to work on her upcoming new album. The relationship formed early in Harris’ career when he was plucked out of MySpace anonymity and offered a gig writing tracks for Kylie’s X album.  Harris admits he was daunted by the initial experience.
“Well the first time, I didn’t even have a single out or anything. I just had a publishing deal so I was kind of untested, so for that reason I had nothing to lose, but it was still quite a tense experience for me. It was the first big job I ever did,” he said.
“It was scary but then once I came in the room and realised she was really nice and happy to listen to my ideas, it became really good and was kind of easy.”
Now returning to the studio with Kylie, two successful albums and worldwide notoriety in tow, Harris is much more comfortable.
“That was even better, because I’ve kinda relaxed into the role now. I’m slightly less nervous, so it went well,” he said.
Harris’ new album Ready for the Weekend is a slickly produced collection of catchy pop tunes and epic dance tracks. His breakthrough single in 2007, Acceptable in the 80s heralded Harris as a talented singer-songwriter with kitschy flair. The recently released singles I’m Not Alone and Ready for the Weekend consolidate his pop synth sound with a more ’90s dance vibe.
It is no surprise that Harris has developed such a cult gay following around the world. He agrees that some of his songs have a camp sensibility but can’t quite identify what it is that evokes that sound.
“I am still yet to work out what the formula for a gay anthem is. The other day I made some of the gayest-sounding songs I’ve ever made with Kylie and Jake Shears [of Scissor Sisters].  I’d listen to it and think, ‘Wow, this is really gay,’ but I don’t know why and maybe it’s just a product of me watching or listening to things informed by being gay, rather than experiencing gay moments in songs.
“I find it odd and strange that an entire way of life can be summed up in a certain form of music,” he mused.  “But it kinda can in a way.”
Surely his use of epic riffs such as the one featured in the chorus of I’m Not Alone evokes a sense of euphoria that might contribute to that camp feel? Harris agrees.
“The old euphoric rush has something to do with pop music. I suppose poppy club music gets played a lot in gay clubs,” he said. “I think [my music] is more gay than [it] used to be — I use more whooshing noises which, as we all know, induce the euphoric feeling. So the more whooshing noises, the better.”
In past interviews, Harris has described his musical stylings as party music rather than belonging to a more serious dance genre. However, this seems to be a somewhat self-deprecating assessment of his talents. Harris is amused by this suggestion.
“I would never be that sweeping in either way. Some of the best party music is the most sophisticated music,” he said. He offers OutKast’s He Ya as an example.
“For me, that’s yet to be bettered as a sophisticated pop song over the past 10 years. And at the same time, a lot of this pseudo-sophisticated, intelligent dance music is some of the shittest music you’ll ever hear. But it just happens to be very highbrow,” he said.
“But then a lot of sopisticated dance music is genuinely amazing. I think the people who make that music wouldn’t describe it as sophisticated. I think they’d describe it as dance music.”
What lies ahead for Harris is unknown. With many avenues open, he is spoilt for choice and has yet to decide whether to pursue more projects of the singer-songwriter or the producer variety. He admits it’s “not a huge dilemma. Either way, it’s a good thing. But I’m taking it a few days at a time at the moment.”
Whatever direction he chooses, Harris is happy to have that freedom.
“I think the more you can do, the better. The more you can take control of yourself, the more comfortable you’ll feel. I often look at singers who are just singers, pop stars who are famous for songs or an image and think, ‘Shit, you’re really got nothing. If someone decides to write you a really bad song and the record label release it, you’re fucked, there’s no coming back.’ But at least I’m responsible for my own failure.”

info: Calvin Harris plays The Metro Theatre on January 21 and The Forum on February 14. Ready for the Weekend is out now.

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