Canadian producer, songwriter, and DJ Barry Harris is considered to be a legend in the Toronto and American club scenes. He is one of the creative masterminds behind the hit synthpop act Kon Kan and the dance club sensation Thunderpuss, who dominated the Billboard dance chart with more than 40 hits. Throughout his career, Harris has performed at several queer venues, clubs, and luxe events, and he is now going to make a grand appearance at Denver PrideFest on Sunday, June 17. Those who attend the Smirnoff Dance Wolrd stage at 5 p.m. are guaranteed a queer and memorable experience. No one plays like Harris, and OUT FRONT caught up with him to chat more about his music and what we can expect from him at Denver Pride.
How did you get started in music? What made you want to pursue this as a career?
I have always been musically inclined. I was told that at a very young age. When I was seven, I learned to play the piano, and guitar and bass when I was 13. I came out when I was 16 and went to my first gay club. My life changed that night permanently and I was addicted to club music ever since.
How would you describe your aesthetic and style of music?
I prefer to go with ‘feel good’ and ‘hands-in-the-air’ dance music. We go to clubs to escape from this messed up world we live in. I love to make music, DJ, and remix to escape as well. I like to make music you can feel in your heart and soul. I also like to go with the flow of the musical trends year after year. This works out great for me because eventually I get bored of the same sound and love to change it up with the times. Currently, I am into 90s-inspired house. I believe we are in a new “what’s old is new again” era right now in 2018.
Your skills are considered legendary. Why is that?
Really? That is quite a compliment. Thank you! I have no idea why I would be perceived that way. Perhaps because I may take a break every now and then, but I have never given up? I love to do what I do, and if my gut tells me to stop or go, then that’s what I do. Just follow my instincts. Guess I also have a lot of experience, and perhaps wisdom now.
What can audiences expect from your performance at Denver Pride?
Fun, energetic, hands-in-the-air celebration of life and music!
What are you personally looking forward to the most about playing at Denver Pride this year?
Pride is always a great time! Denver is another great U.S. city and I am thrilled to return! I have never played Pride in Denver, nor the outside stage. I am looking forward to that!
What would you say has been the most memorable party you have ever played?
There are too many to mention. Perhaps when I played the Roxy NYC and Cher came to perform. Also, when I debuted “Dive in the Pool” for the first time DJing at Twilo in NYC. The entire room exploded at the “Let’s Get Soaking Wet” moment!
Since you are a veteran of the Toronto DJ scene, how does that scene differ from American DJ scenes?
Toronto has always been very NYC- and London, U.K.-influenced over the decades musically, and that’s no exception in the gay scene. I never really realized that at first until I started playing all around the U.S., and that’s been since 1999. The U.S. has traditionally had a bigger Latin influence on its dance scene over the years.
What would you say is the most rewarding part about being a DJ?
Playing feelgood music and having a great time with everyone. Life is short; you must have fun and shut out the real world for a while. Like the Seal song goes, “We’re never gonna survive, unless we get a little crazy.”
Do you have any upcoming releases or projects we should be on the lookout for?
I am always working on music, bootlegs, and remixes. I have a few original song ideas, but I’m not in a rush to make them. I love doing remixes, old and new, and now I am just having fun. I refuse to get caught up in the politics of dancing. It’s all about good times and fun now. Focusing on smiles and lighting up these days. This is the time, in my opinion.
Photos Provided By Barry Harris