Outlook Ohio News: Barry Harris
Barry (BH) “Let’s Get Soaking Wet” Harris, A/K/A, Kon Kan, Outta Control, Top Kat, Thunderpuss and now simply Barry Harris has gone from an international recording artist, to mixer to DJ and back to remixing. Barry’s musical style has always had a central influence and catered to the gay community. Barry took some a few years off and is back now pumping out remixes at a maddening pace. He claims that music is fun again and this time he is doing it on his terms.
Dua Lipa vs 21 Pilots
BlowYour Mind/Heathens (Barry Harris Mash Bounce Mix)
Your origins date back to Kon Kan where you experienced some pretty immediate success. Tell me a bit about that time and your experiences.
BH – “I Beg Your Pardon” was the first record i ever made. It started out as an Indy record, got played in Houston, Texas on a couple of big radio stations
and blew up. Before ya know it, it got signed to Atlantic Records who then pushed it out to the rest of the world. It was my first big record that went #18 on the Billboard
Hot 100 Singles chart & Top 5 around the world. Life changing. An amazing experience.
After your second release on Atlantic you were dropped from the label. What effect did that have on you and how did that influence your direction?
BH – It changed my life and perspective forever. Because the first single was so huge i
was expected to match it by Atlantic Records. All the money we made on the first
record went into my following it up on the second L.P. which had to have a hit single. I went way TOO pop and lost my original street sense. I had my A & R guy judging my every decision. I was totally derailed. My lesson was that if i ever got a second chance i would do it so differently and learn from this big mistake.
Next you went on to create Thunderpuss with Chris Cox. Tell us about a bit about that time and your experiences.
BH – I had learned my lesson from the Kon Kan experience. Listen to your heart, listen to your gut, do not get derailed by anyone. Stay close to the street and your instincts. By doing that Thunderpuss was very successful. Chris always wanted to play it safe, i always pushed him to be dangerous and move forward. We had friction a lot of times but IMO it was a good friction to have which of course eventually would take it’s toll. I had a lot of creative freedom especially after the T-puss success of Whitney Houston’s “It’s Not Right, But It’s Ok”. It was an awesome time. I created 95% of the music & music hooks in all the Thunderpuss Remixes, I ran the web site, i arranged out photo shoots, did the invoicing and usually chatting with the record label reps. It was a really great time, i loved it. Suddenly i ‘had the second chance’ and i was NOT going to blow it this time. I felt like i got handed ‘the ball of success’ again and i ran as fast & hard as i possibly could, until i couldn’t anymore!
So one day you posted that you were making some life changes and stopped remixing all together. What precipitated that change?
BH – There is a lot of reasons that all added up. There were about 3 reasons long before 2003 that i would have liked to have quit earlier, but business was crazy busy and it
would have been very foolish to leave. In hind sight i now realize the success of my solo singles “Dive In The Pool” & “I Got My Pride” put a lot of strain on the relationship between Chris and I . Jealously & resentment started to set in. I had created so much music for Thunderpuss that i felt it was time i made a bit of music and used some of my creativity for myself again but at the same time it created a crack in our relationship. I had no intention to leave Thunderpuss at the time, i thought it would only make Thunderpuss stronger by us both having our own solo singles as well!
A second reason to leave Thunderpuss is the music business was starting to change drastically & as i had wanted to leave sooner i stuck it out for awhile longer. Chris still believes that i left because there wasn’t any money to be made anymore which is 100% not true. I was pretty exhausted by working so hard for 5 1/2 years non stop that it simply felt like the time to leave. It wasn’t fun anymore and was starting to feel like work, i was starting to get frustrated and have a partner giving me ‘the cold shoulder’ as well wasn’t fun either.
I also didn’t want to fade into the sunset and eventually have Thunderpuss ever be considered ‘has beens’. I wanted to keep the Thunderpuss alive as it’s own era of identity (if that makes sense). I didn’t want to eventually do 2 years of weak mixes that no one really cared about any more. I wanted to do the ‘quit while still at the top’ so years later the Thunderpuss legacy would still be looked back upon as a strong one!
There are more reasons that all added up as well, but i think i’ll just keep some of those ones to myself for now.
This brings us to today, you suddenly reemerge and sort of came back out like a lion.
You also reference that pop music is fun today. What excites you about music today?
BH – I poked back into remixing 2009 -2011 but only dipped my toes into it. I just didn’t feel like the right time yet to do my thing. 2014 there were a few more signs and conversations with DJ friends that 2014 seemed to be the right time to do it again.
There are so many choices available to everyone music wise now. I’m happy to be one of them. I can ‘do my thing’ more than ever now without record company
You are turning out about a mix or two a week. Tell us about the process and what inspires you.
BH – Bringing back emotion to the gay dance floor. I love what i’m doing again. The times have changed and i LOVE that. The sound i was doing in the Thunderpuss days was truly a great era, but it HAD to go away before it could come back. I felt it was time to come back again and reinvent it. I realized that there is an audience with open arms ready to embrace it again. The feedback i’ve been getting since 2014 has been great and really inspiring. Everyone who is embracing the sound i’m doing continues to inspire me even more and to keep on going! I’m having a great time.
What was the high point in your career?
BH – I’ve had two high points. The “I Beg Your Pardon” Kon Kan years and touring Brazil and South East Asia. Then the second high point is the success of Whitney Houston’s INRBIOK and all the Thunderpuss years 1998-2003. Two great times indeed! Then again who knows there still may be more high points yet to come!
What was the low point in your career?
BH – In between the high points ’92 – ’98 and witnessing more than ever so much of the gay community suffer & die during the AIDS crisis ’83 – ’94 ish.
What would you do differently?
BH – Nothing
What are your favorite new songs?
BH – It’s hard to keep up, besides i’m the kinda guy that has a new favourite song each week and move on to the next. I get bored easily.
What do you listen to when you are not listening to dance?
BH – Occasionally rock, or alternative rock, but otherwise the sound of silence.