Darion Harris and Church Leon lighten the suffocating vibes with ‘Asthma’
Darion Harris’ latest release “Asthma” comes at a peculiar time. The song even refers to a “super virus” despite having been produced far before our pandemic began. I got the chance to talk to the artist and discuss his process, successes, future goals, and how he’s coping during this unique time.
Darion Harris has been on his music grind for a short time and has already managed to garner about 400k Spotify streams on his first project Soire. His talent and worth ethic have landed him the opportunity to open up for artists like A$AP Ferg and iLoveMakonnen.
Producer Turned Vocalist
I asked Harris what first got him into music and he explained that producing came first, before being a vocalist despite his initial desire to rap.
“I wanted to be a vocalist at first, but I didn’t like the beats that were being presented to me. Then I fell in love with producing on that front and then I was producing under Melo-X”
Under the tutelage of successful producer Melo-X whose roster of artists includes Beyoncé, Darion Harris became more comfortable as an artist by socializing with other artists. That gave him the push he needed to add being a vocalist to his craft, which was well received.
“I just started being fearless and like, doing whatever I thought was cool at the time.”
It did take some time for Harris to really put out music with his own vocals. Harris remembers a time when he was receiving positive feedback and encouragement from fellow artists that he respected. That was the turning point for him to start sharing his work with the world.
“Artists’ opinions that I valued told me that they thought my music was really good. And that I should just start putting it out.”
With encouraging encounters, Harris was no longer scared and became focused on trusting his instincts.
“For me, I would have felt more comfortable being behind the scenes, but sometimes you got to step out your comfort zone and take risks That’s the only way you’re gonna get anywhere.”
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Staying True to your Music
What surprised Harris about the process of creating music was the reception of the non-conventional.
At first, when he was solely a producer and working with artists, his beats were often deemed too unique to fit into the mainstream musical landscape. But once he started putting his own vocals onto his beats, the responses changed.
“People gravitated to my music and now more people reach out to me for that kind of stuff when it wasn’t really accepted before.”
In fact, Darion Harris started his own record label, titled “Soire Records” along with Melo-X while producing. The vibe of the label was centered on independent artists doing what felt most natural to them, creating genuine music.
“I started getting different types of artists to come in. We would lock-in and just make music that represented what we were going through at the time.”
Harris told me that the artists associated with the label were the kind of team that you could easily connect with, making the conception of Soire Records a natural process.
The focus on music that may generally be outside the mainstream or not accepted yet is confidence that Darion Harris attributes to his primary major influence; Donald Glover.
“It was more about what he represented when I was younger. Seeing someone who related to what I was going through and being fearless.”
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Inspo Behind Asthma
Fast forward to the release of “Asthma” and several other influences are obvious. The song is a bouncy, addictive, and carefree response to the expectations of others in Darion’s generation.
Darion told me his influences include Kevin Parker of Tame Impala, Pharell, and Danny Brown. The song has that same Brockhampton vibe of collaboration as Darion invites Church Leon to join him on the track.
While Harris claims to not be able to work a 9-5 job as he has “asthma” and is “allergic” to those that just go with the norm, the New Zealand rapper jumps in as if he is the “super-virus” here to take out the system.
The playful lyrics sound quite relevant in our current attempts to stay positive amid a global pandemic. But the song was created far before our current world came to be. Darion Harris walked me through how the song was conceived.
The inspiration would start with Harris hearing a friend playing a guitar loop. Having gone without sleep for about 24 hours, he was fully immersed in writing the song in his head. The gathering he’d shown up late too was at its end, but Harris stayed the night while others slept just to work on the song.
“I lay down two verses, and then I fall asleep. And then I woke up. I heard like a Jamaican verse. I’m like where does this come from? And then I kind of just sent it around to people. And they’re like, yeah, this is genius.”
Uniting Across the Seas
At the time, Harris was also listening to music outside of the United States, an often untapped and underappreciated collection of music. One of the artists he discovered was New Zealand’s Church & AP.
“I ran into Church & AP and they’re like super popping in New Zealand and we clicked like right away I reached out and then they were totally down and then they sent me back the verse and you know the rest is kind of history.”
The overall vibe Harris was going for was one that was worry-free with an emphasis on having a good time. He also released it now because he knew the world would appreciate some levity. He also wanted to showcase his range, considering his last release Black Kid, had a darker, more serious subject matter.
“I wanted to put out something that was super light and fun. It just so happened that the Coronavirus happened while I was trying to make that move with it, which is like really funny,”
The original track was completed over two years ago and the Church verse was sent in just four months before the virus broke out. An amusing tale on how fate ends up aligning with our actions.
Advice for fellow artists
I asked Harris what advice he would impart on his early artist self. His advice was to stay open to different processes and ways to make music. Harris explained that in the beginning, he assumed that you had to create music in a set way.
He’d heard that some artists write their lyrics before they ever really hear a melody. This was difficult for Harris to understand because he valued the mood and worried it may not fit in well with the lyrics. The Soire artist explained that he also used to put emphasis on the hook being the most important part of music to get done first.
After witnessing and delving into different ways of creating music Harris settled on an approach.
“Sometimes you’ll just have an idea. Put it down and just let everything flow naturally and be well rounded.”
Harris also mentioned the importance of staying true to your art, even if you feel like that’s not what people want to hear or see at that time. What’s important is that there’s a sincerity in the music, that others can recognize and appreciate.
“If you’re just being yourself and putting out products that are a product of you, they’re easier to digest and get into and relate.”
Harris also pointed out the importance of connecting with people who listen or are interested in your art, especially while we’re forced to social distance.
“Talk to different people… Talk with them about where they’re from and how they’re experiencing this.”
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Harris’ parting advice for creatives looking to start producing or start doing their own vocals and releasing their own original music was simple yet inspiring.
“I know there’s a pressure to do what is ‘more accepted, in terms of how you express yourself and what people want to hear. But my advice, I know it sounds kind of cliché, definitely just speak your mind and just be yourself. Tell your own story and I feel a lot more people will be able to relate. Just constantly work, grind.”
Stay inspired Kulture Hub fam, and while you do bump “Asthma” available on all major platforms.