Quentin Harris is back. New York’s dynamic producer, with two major albums to date (Sa.cri.fice and No Politics) has been a major force in the House scene, moving deftly moved between the soulful and harder landscapes of dance music. He has worked with the who’s who of music from Monique Bingham, Robert Owens, Byron Stingily, Ultra Nate, Inaya Day and Joi Cardwell. He’s remixed Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey, Femi Kuti, Blaze, Tortured Soul and Black Coffee.
Now Quentin, after a brief studio hiatus, has teamed up with singer/songwriter Jason Walker on the new single “Stronger.” Based on the theme of moving on from a toxic relationship, Jason wails over a soulful piano-led track that screams of peak time feels. Quentin makes use of his fellow Def Mix cohort David Morales as the latter contributes his “Muscle Mix,” filled with strings and a harder tempo.
Quentin, can you update us on what you’ve been doing lately? I understand you took a brief hiatus from the studio.
Actually I have been giving myself some healing time. When I released my last album, I was going through the passing of my father, my sister and my good friend Aaron-Carl who I was working on an album with. I wasn’t feeling music at the moment, let alone feeling like I needed to make the same Deep House records. I didn’t feel like I was growing or being challenged as a musician. I also was feeling trapped in a business relationship that was one-sided. Music and the music biz were the last things on my mind.
How long have you been working with Jason Walker and what inspired this track?
Jason Walker and I have been working together for almost fifteen years. I first met Jason after I did a remix for his #1 Billboard hit, “Foolish Mind Games.” At the time, he was signed to Junior Vasquez Music. I loved his voice and I knew that we could make magic together. The first thing we ever did together was a cover of After 7’s “Can’t Stop” which was on my first album No Politics. We kept working on more and more music, in different styles and genres. The song “Stronger” came about when one day in my studio we decided to do a song from scratch. Up until then we had always done covers or I remixed Jason’s work. I created the music and he wrote to it. The vocals were done somewhere else. At the time I was becoming known for a sound and I wanted to do something that was more organic and musical. I had recently re-discovered the Dee Dee Bridgewater Classic, “Bad For Me.” I said to Jason, “We should do something like this,” and he agreed.
I started laying down a piano line and then the bass. I said, “Let me pick up my trumpet,” which I hadn’t played in years. Within a few hours the track was done. Jason came up with an amazing vocal about a relationship where he was mistreated but learned how to be stronger because of it.
Tell us about your relationship with the Def Mix family and some of the things you’ve learned from being with them.
My relationship with Def Mix has been very different from what I am used to. What I mean by that is, I don’t feel like I am a machine or a factory that has to crank out music like an assembly line. It is a tight knit family and its history speaks for itself.
I have also learned that there is a big world out there with people that have many different tastes in music, but as long as I am true and honest with my music, people will follow.
A lot of changes have happened in the music industry in the last 5 years with regards to the rise (and what many predict the fall) of EDM, music streaming and sales and just what is currently in demand at clubs. Do you have any opinions regarding some of these things and how they may or may not have affected your artistic career?
I don’t think that there is a rise and a fall of anything. If you look back, this isn’t the first time dance music was at the commercial forefront. First, it was uptempo Soul, Latin and Jazz which when commercialized became Disco. It was killed off for various reasons that are too much for me to talk about. Between 1988-2000 it became “Club Music” which met the same fate as Disco and later became EDM. History doesn’t repeat but it sure rhymes a lot.
I personally think that this is a great time for music but it is harder to break through because there is an abundance of music you have to weed through. It is also more difficult to get heard. It seems everyone is a producer.
With this new technology, I now have to wear more hats then I am used to wearing. I know what my strengths are and unfortunately they are not in the social media realm. For me it’s like trying to eat one potato chip. I go on Facebook, Youtube, Twitter or whatever only to be there for a short couple of minutes and the next thing you know I look up and I have been there for two hours. It’s a constant challenge for me. I like to let my music speak for me and if I do post anything, I post when I feel that I have something meaningful to say or music to promote. What can I say? I am a constant work in progress.
What do you have coming up for the future?
Well, in the near future I will finally be releasing the album that Ultra Nate and I have been working on, off and on, since 2009. It’s been a labor of love and I am very proud of it. There is a strong live element to it and it touches on the many styles of dance music, from Soul, Rock, Punk, House and Pop. Outside of that I have gone back into my Songs Of My Father album project. I also recently did a new song with Cordell McClary, that should be in the pipeline soon and of course I will always do my Re-Productions and Re-Touches.
Disco, Love and the DJs that brought House Music to the White House: originally published inside 5 Magazine Issue #131, featuring Al Kent, Quentin Harris, The Chosen Few DJs in Washington, Anaxander and more. Become a member of 5 Magazine for First & Full access to everything House Music – on sale for just $1 an issue!