Toronto producer Harrison—real name Harrison Robinson—is bringing a fresh sound to clubs across Canada.
Harrison’s music exudes optimism while addressing some of the subtle difficulties of the experience of youth, from relationships to clubbing. His SoundCloud bio says, “Maybe it’s not so bad.” One of his singles, “It’s Okay, I Promise,” features a monologue from Clairmont the Second about a failed relationship that finishes with “I will find another, knowing you can’t handle it.” These adages are secondary, though, to a unique and compelling album that showcases an eclectic mix of funk, pop, and R&B.
Checkpoint Titanium is the 21-year-old artist’s first full-length album, after several years spent developing his sound with various beatmakers and collaborators on SoundCloud. With this project, Harrison said that he wanted to move forward to making more fully-developed, original songs.
“When I started SoundCloud it was really just beatmaking, sample loops, and shit, not anything much more serious than that,” he said. “I wanted to make full pieces.”
Two songs, “So Far from Home” and “Vertigo” make a notable departure from beats to full-fledged pop songs.
“[‘Vertigo’ is] more like a pop song,” Harrison said. “allie [a Toronto singer and producer] wrote the lyrics, and I spent a lot of time on the instrumental, having it open for an artist to sing on. So, it’s fun making a song knowing someone’s gonna sing on it.”
In 10 succinct tracks, Harrison showcases his diversity as a producer and songwriter with uptempo and synth-heavy dance numbers—“Checkpoint Titanium” and “Right Hook”—to funk-based ballads—“It’s Okay, I Promise” and “So Far from Home”.
“So, the point is, you can stay here in fear, forever, as yourself, […] Or we can go everywhere, by love, together,” Harrison orates on “You and I.” “I’m going there anyways […]” This assertion alludes to underlying sonic themes of spontaneity, experimentation, and exuberance.
Harrison emphasizes the importance of having a good time with his music. A good show, he said, happens when everyone is enjoying themselves.
“I like the open-mindedness of Montreal, and when people go out to dance, they go out to dance,” he said. “It’s a bunch of students, and people just want to go have fun.”
It’s hard not to dance when listening to Harrison—heavy funk and R&B influences combined with uptempo synth beats make for an infectious and exciting sound. Creative sonic and tempo variation sets these tracks apart from the monotony of other techno/house SoundCloud artists.
While his music alone is enough to ensure a good time, Harrison’s stage presence truly emphasizes his sense of fun. Opening for Cashmere Cat to a small but growing crowd on the Saturday before Halloween, his charismatic stage banter and lively performance amplifies the spirit of his set.
Harrison’s good vibes extend beyond his music. His cover art is bubbly with pink and blue hues, often with playful illustrations or lettering. His website has an addictive Super Mario-style video game featuring a skateboarding avatar of Harrison, dodging bullets and collecting coins while chasing his escaped dog, Aika.
Checkpoint Titanium poises Harrison as a producing talent to watch out for. His songs strip away all dancing inhibitions and conceits with the perfect sound for a night out.
Listen to Checkpoint Titanium at soundcloud.com/harrison_music