Calvin Harris is a Scottish record producer, DJ, singer and songwriter. His first claim to fame was for the album, 'I Created Disco', released in 2007 – especially for the single, 'Acceptable in the 80s'. Since, he has brought out several albums and has collaborated with various famous artists such as Rihanna. His success climbed rapidly and now he runs his own record label 'Fly Eye Records'.
Harris, born Adam Richard Wiles, was raised in Dumfries, Scotland to mother, Pamela and father, David. His mother, a homemaker and father, a biochemist, married in Oxford before moving to Georgetown, a suburb in Dumfries, Scotland. Harris has an older brother, Edward and an older sister, Sophie. He attended Dumfries High School and spent a few years after high school doing small jobs such as packing shelves and working in a local fish-processing factory in order to buy DJ equipment.
Harris’s interest in electronic music began when he was in his teenage years. By 1999, he was recording demos in his bedroom and by age 18 he released two songs – ‘Da Bongos’ and ‘Brighter Days’. Both songs were released as 12-inch club singles and were under the name Stouffer. After successfully releasing two singles, Harris moved to London in 2004 in hope of making it big in the music industry. He spent a short time there as only one of his singles was released – a song called Let Me Know with Ayah Marar on vocals – jobs were scarce and money was tight. He moved back to his hometown and continued to create music. This time he made original solo recordings, which he uploaded to his MySpace account. His social media account grew considerably and caught the attention of a booker for Global Gathering, Mark Gillespie, who signed Harris under his management firm.
Harris’s signing with Mark Gillespie lead to a number of other successful endeavors. In 2006, he signed contracts with Three Six Zero Group, EMI and Sony BMG and later that year produced a remix of the song ‘Rock Steady’ sung by All Saints. His first album was released in June 2007 entitled I Created Disco. This album was written, produced and performed solely by Harris and was synthesized on his Amiga computer. Harris was influenced by music from the ’80s when creating the album.
With the huge success of his first album, he was invited to be the supporting act for Groove Armada and Faithless in the UK. I Created Disco was awarded gold by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), was announced the eighth spot on the UK Album Charts and the 19th spot on the US Top Electronic Albums list. His song, ‘Acceptable in the 80s’, made its way to number 10 on the UK Singles Chart and remained on the chart for just under four months. ‘Girls’, another song off his first album, peaked at number three in the UK Singles Chart and number four on the Scotland Chart.
It was also in 2007 that Harris was introduced to Kylie Minogue. The Australian pop singer and actor showed immense interest in his work and persisted to invite him to co-write and produce two songs, Heart Beat Rock and In My Arms on her album X. Harris describes the experience with Minogue as “surreal but fun” and says he had to have a few drinks before meeting her.
Harris brought out his second album Ready for the Weekend in August 2009, which was a huge success. Within two months, it debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart and was certified gold by the BPI. The lead single, ‘I’m Not Alone’ hit the number one spot on the UK Singles Chart.
Harris then began working with other big names in the industry such as Sophie-Ellis Bextor, Kelis, Shakira, Mika and Dizzee Rascal. In fact, his work with Dizzee Rascal on the song ‘Dance Wiv Me’ which ended up at number one in the UK, was certified platinum by the BPI, received a Brit Award nomination for British Single and an Ivor Novello Award for Best Contemporary Song. Harris worked with Dizzee Rascal a second time in producing his single ‘Holiday’ which also reached number one in the UK.
In 2011, Harris toured with Rihanna, being her supporting act for the Loud Tour in Europe. Rihanna commented on their partnership by saying, “Calvin is the perfect fit for the Loud Tour. He is going to bring something unique and fun for the fans.”
The pair also worked together when Harris produced Rihanna’s popular tracks ‘We Found Love’ and ‘Where Have You Been?’. The former track topped the charts in 27 countries and broke several records. It was also this song that gave Rihanna her longest-running US number one hit.
From 2011 to 2013, Harris’s fame continued to rise and he worked alongside the likes of Mary J. Blige, Cheryl Cole as well as Ne-Yo. He also collaborated with Florence and the Machine in creating the song ‘Sweet Nothing’. This song surpassed expectations and received several outstanding awards. It was within this time frame that Harris brought out his fourth studio album, in which he broke chart history for becoming the first artist to have eight top 10 singles off one album. This record beat Michael Jackson. It was in 2012 that Harris decided to stop singing in his songs and focus on producing. He said, “I want each track as good as it can possibly be, which usually means me not singing on it”.
Harris continued to thrive in 2013 by working with The Killers. He was asked to remix their popular track ‘When You Were Young’. In an interview with Rolling Stone he admitted, “It was a real honor to be asked to remix one of my favorite modern bands, and it was an exciting challenge for me to update this classic track for the dance-floor in a tasteful and respectful way. “
In April 2014, Harris was invited to play the main stage of Coachella, which proved to attract the biggest crowd in the festival’s history. He persisted to headline many more exciting festivals worldwide. He was awarded another milestone in his career as his song ‘Summer’ was the most-streamed track of 2014 on Spotify – it gained more than 200 million streams. In 2015, Harris’s song ‘How Deep Is Your Love’ was his first chart-topper in Australia and received several other prominent awards.
2016 saw the likes of ‘This Is What You Came For’, where Harris worked with Rihanna for a third time. This song topped the charts in Australia, Canada and Ireland. Harris also released a third collaboration with Dizzee Rascal entitled Hype.
Harris has also participated in a few other projects besides music. He starred in a Coca Cola campaign in 2009, a Pepsi Max commercial in 2012 and was declared the new face of Emporio Armani men’s underwear line in 2015.
He is the owner of the label Fly Eye Records, formed a partnership with Sony/ATV Music Publishing and was awarded the head of artists for the dance label Deconstruction Records.
In conjunction with music, producing and commercials, Harris has been involved in several philanthropy initiatives.
Harris’s musical ability has proven to be well received by the public. It has been said that he is partly responsible for commercializing EDM (Electronic Dance Music) and has been awarded as one of the most successful musicians in contemporary British pop culture. Not only has he participated in extremely successful events worldwide with his musical talent but also, he is equally as popular in contributing towards those in need.
In 2007, Harris performed at a charity event Wasted Youth as part of the Campaign Against Living Miserably. This initiative was put together to bring awareness to male suicide within the UK. In 2008, he supported the campaign Hometime Scotland an initiative working towards ending homelessness and bad housing in Scotland. Harris also performed at a charity concert raising money for the Children’s Orthaepedic Center at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and contributed towards charities hoping to create awareness for HIV.
And while Harris is mostly scandal-free, one incident occurred in mid-2016, which left fans stunned. It was said that he had sent a nude selfie to a woman who was not his then-girlfriend, Taylor Swift. Although the photo only contained half of a face, upon inspection, many believed it to be Harris.
Harris is currently single despite the rumors that he was dating singer and songwriter, Tinashe. From 2013-2014, Harris dated British singer, Rita Ora and from 2014-2016, he dated American singer, Taylor Swift. When Harris and Swift broke it off, it caused a great deal of sadness for adorning fans. However, Swift was seen with Tom Hiddleston just two weeks after the split.
Additionally, Harris enjoys the perks of being the highest paid DJ of the year in 2013, 2014 and 2015. He was ranked the 30th richest British millionaire in music in April 2015 and has a personal fortune on $105 million.
Written by: Helena Lorimer