Last Gang Records' Newcomer Harrison on His Debut EP and Festival Naivety
Maddee Ritter

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Last Gang Records' Newcomer Harrison on His Debut EP and Festival Naivety

Bestival will be this Toronto dweller's first festival. Ever.
May 7, 2015, 8:05pm

Sitting shrunken in a chair, Harrison sighs. He leans back dangerously far, toying with gravity as he does. It doesn't even faze him. "I woke up very late. We were playing Mario Party last night and things got a little heated," he says. "Everyone was drinking and when you add in Mario Party…friendships were almost lost."

Harrison Robinson is Toronto's latest internet raised, musically-inclined offspring. Kick a Koopa Shell at his Question Block and you'll unlock an endearing enthusiasm for Nintendo, a flair for poignantly happy music, and perhaps a minor hangover. The bright and jaunty land of video games—particularly Kirby and Yoshi—is Harrison's muse. "They're all so positive all the time," says the 19-year-old. "I like happy stuff and trying to be happy. I would love if someone emailed me one day to tell me that my music made him or her feel a little better. That's my role as a musician."

Harrison boxes his happiness in sugary instrumentals and wraps it with a cartoon bow. His track "Down B, Up B" samples Yoshi's babbling squeal, "Adventure Timeless: Still Wet" brings Finn from Adventure Time to an R&B video dance party, and "Happy Boy" may as well be the song that plays while coasting on the Wii menu. Hence the title of his debut EP, Colors, a joint release with Last Gang Records and Jet Jam. The Americanized spelling of which seems a bit shady. Or in his words, "sus."

"Someone told me spelling it Colours is super, super Canadian and that I should go for the American version," he admits meekly. "I promise I won't slander Canada again."

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Not that he has any reason to be ashamed; Toronto's typically reputable music scene was never a blip on his radar. "Toronto hasn't really had an influence on me. I didn't get into music seriously until recently. I listened to a lot of music on the side, but they were mostly indie bands. I wasn't even into going to shows." His complacent disinterest goes so far as festivals. Harrison is slated to perform at the inaugural edition of Bestival on Toronto Island alongside massive acts like Jamie XX, Florence and the Machine, and Caribou. Not that festivals ring any bells for him, either.

"I've never been to a festival, ever. Not a single one. Some of my friends went to that Osheaga one in Montreal, but I didn't go. I didn't understand what was going on with festivals. I figured it was people sitting in a park listening to music. Kind of like a club, but outside?" he asks genuinely.

Before every victory lap there is a set of water wings—and learning how to swim without them. He recently detached from his formerly anonymous side-project Missing Hito—a similar sounding moniker dedicated to a lovelorn time in his life. And he has since recovered from a serious bout of stage fright. "I was playing at this tiny tea shop and this girl showed up with some other guy and I was so shook," says Harrison, shaking his head. "They had left before I even played, but I remember being all sweaty. Even though there were maybe 15 people in the audience, I couldn't breathe."

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His sensitivity is unabashed, leaving him slightly vulnerable to the cruelties that exist outside of Kirby's Dream Land and actually IRL. After a few more shows, a 1-UP, and the help of Last Gang Records, Harrison unlocked his confidence. "I realized that people don't care as much as I think they do. You just have to enjoy making music, but I was caring so much about what people thought. Even if someone is judging me, I probably don't like them anyway."

All in all, he seems to have adjusted. With the help of his friend and frequent collaborator Maddee, Harrison has the Colors EP perched happily away from "Sus-Cloud" and a full-length album in the wings. He admits that the new album will veer from the happy route synonymous with Harrison and will embark on a more somber one. "I'm making this album for myself, which is why I like it so much. I've realized how much I care about it. It's so much deeper and inspired."

There's plenty of time to "be happy, and in love, and all that cheesy stuff." Until then, he'll stick with his bromance with Deebs and Ryan Hemsworth, fellow Toronto dwellers/producers. "There's this thing where we call each other 'Dad' or 'Sugardad.' Like 'Take care of me Dad, take care of me Ryan. Deebs, I need your help Dad,'" he laughs. "I'm going to try to make them start a Blink-182 inspired rock band one day. But until then, we'll probably stick to bowling."

Listen to the remix of Harrison's "You're Light" by In The Blue Shirt above. You can see Harrison perform at Bestival in Toronto on June 12-13 and grab 'Colors' on iTunes now.

Harrison is on Facebook // SoundCloud // Twitter

Rachael was always more of a Zelda fan and is on Twitter.