Bucknell Spotlight: Darren Harris '13
If you don't know Darren in person, you've seen him perform on campus. He's played at multiple downtown houses and backyards, headlines all of the downtown Bankwets with CJ Fujimura as "Headnotic", presented his free-style talent at Uptown, and even opened for Samuel Adams with an incredible solo performance. His music is all over campus, and he has a huge influence in the uprising of the Bucknell music scene. I had the chance to speak with Darren over the weekend, and it was a refreshing experience to hear about Darren's musical career, endeavors, and vision of his future.
How has your musicianship changed form high to college?
"My musicianship has changed in the sense that in high school it was nonexistent. I started writing rhymes for fun when i was 16, but I never really pursued it until I got to college. I played a little bit of drums in high school and I listened to a bunch of music other than rap before I really got heavy into listening to rap music. Nowadays I listen to anything that sounds good to me, and I also try to write to as many different pieces of music as I can because I feel that rap music especially could use some expansion in themes, and just the music in general, instead of just formulaic copycatting."
Tell us about your first on-stage performance.
"My first on-stage experience was pretty weird actually. I was in mexico with my family on vacation when I was about 17, and we went to this big party that had a huge stage with dancers and other forms of entertainment while we ate dinner. During the show there was a talent show portion where they would come down into the audience and grab people from the crowd and put them onstage. As luck would have it, I was brought onstage and I had no idea what I was going to do. At first they asked me if I could sing, but I said I could rap instead so the drummer gave me a beat. I spit out this (now-terrible) rap that I had written earlier. The people went crazy and a few people even asked to take a picture with me, I think they thought I was some rapper from the states. Getting that taste of appreciation from people was infectious, so I figured I might as well keep writing."
Can you talk about Headnotic, how it started, the inspiration behind the group, and how you've developed as an artist through your experiences with the group?
"Headnotic, ah its hard to say. Me and CJ didn't start making music together until sophomore year, but Headnotic is more than just us, there's also Herbal Legends and the Bankwet collective. Basically we are all a crew of musicians and artists (me, CJ, Joey Verica, Jason Brown, John Quezada, Mackenzie Halfhide, Jenny Prucnal, Killa, Jasper Young) who wanted to do something other than the typical frat party scene here at Bucknell. We talked about wanting something different, and then it finally got to a point where we figured, why not do it ourselves? From that, Bankwet was born, and me and CJ are within that together as Headnotic. We started because we both realized that there needs to be something different within the structure of rap music, there is so much more potential within the art to do something truly original and relative for our generation. It's because of that mindset that we just do whatever we want as long as it sounds good, because no one can deny good music."
Can you explain the differences regarding your thought process between free-styling and song-writing?
"There is quite the difference between my thought-process with free-styling and songwriting in the sense that with free-styling I turn my brain off. I don't make a conscious effort to think, I just vibe with the beat and then just say whatever comes to mind. Once you start trying too hard (in terms of thinking) is when you mess up, so I just let the rhymes come to me and settle into a zone where it feels like I have all the time in the world to come up with rhymes on the spot. Songwriting is a whole different process, and it's a process that I honestly enjoy more than free-styling. To me, when I first hear a beat, it's like a puzzle. I just listen to it in silence for a while to understand it, and also to understand what the beat is trying to say, in a sense. After that I just mumble different rhythms and flows to myself, and then I fill in those patterns with words, and that's where the puzzle comes in. I like thinking and trying out different patterns to use with the beat. Conveying that into a message is the next step in the process."
Any instrument you would love to learn how to play in the future?
"I love music so much that I definitely want to pick up an instrument in the near future. I would love to learn guitar and also pick the drums back up again as well."
Where do you see yourself and your music in 10 years?
"In ten years I would hope to be making music that sounds nothing like what I'm doing now. Even if I don't "make it" in the conventional sense, I will still always be writing songs and making music because it's one of the few things that I can genuinely say that I love doing. It's hard for me to envision myself doing anything else so i'm still planning on trying to go as far as i can with this and hopefully make some great things."
And where can we hear your music?
"You can hear my music by searching for Defseed on soundcloud and also by searching Headnotic on youtube and soundcloud as well. I haven't uploaded anything in a while because I've just been waiting to get the right collection of songs, so look forward to some brand new music in the near future."
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