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Going Solo

The “Queer Eye For The Straight Guy” soundtrack is scheduled for a Feb. 10 release, but the CD is already generating a steady amount of buzz.

DJ, producer and remixer Barry Harris makes a very special contribution to the soundtrack. The club icon created a combination of Billy Squire and Fisherspooner entitled “Everybody Wants You To Emerge.” He also remixed Widelife’s theme song for the show, “All Things (Just Keep Getting Better).”

Harris is mostly known as the gay half of legendary remix and production duo Thunderpuss. Together with Chris Cox, Harris mixed songs for Madonna, Whitney Houston, Cher, Britney Spears and many others.

The duo worked up 30 number one tracks on the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play and Hot Dance Music/Dance Singles Sales charts over the last five years.

The pair’s sudden public split this fall disappointed fans and left a wide-open void in the remix scene. Cox told Billboard Magazine in October that it was a “shock” when he received the news that Harris is quitting Thunderpuss.

In an interview on the eve of Harris’ New Year’s Eve appearance at Blu Atlanta, he reluctantly admits that he is leaving the successful team to pursue other interests.

“I received a lot of flack for it, so sometimes it is a touchy subject,” Harris says. “I was just ready to do something different. Thunderpuss had run its course.”

Harris established himself as a leading force in dance music years before his Thunderpuss experience.

In 1983, he started his DJ career in Toronto at college radio. He enjoyed his first success as an artist and producer with Kon Kan’s “I Beg Your Pardon” in 1988. Harris cites his work with Kon Kan as his biggest career achievement so far.

“That was the first time I had so much success with a song,” he says. “That experience was really life-changing.”

It was a remix of the Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney duet “Say Say Say” by Jellybean in 1983 that wakened Harris’ interest in music. He names Wally MacDonald, Jellybean and Shep Pettibone as some of the major influences early on in his career.

Harris further explored dance music with Terry Kelly and Tom Kat, which had a Billboard Dance hit with “Feel Cool” in the mid-1990s. In 1996, he teamed with Racheed Wehbi (now part of Widelife) before working with Cox in Thunderpuss beginning in 1998.

Harris acknowledges that 20 years in the music business taught him an important lesson.

“My career has been a rollercoaster ride,” he says. “I’ve learned that this industry is very fickle. You never know what to expect.”

The superstar DJ, who does not like to reveal his age but says he is “past 40,” credits his longevity to his ability to keep an edge in his music releases.

“You have to keep your ear to the ground and keep your eyes open to what’s going on,” he says. “I’ve always followed my instincts. I like to be experimental and not a follower.”

January 1, 2004 | Permalink | Comments (0)