Entertainer, Tare Okiri Harrison, A.K.A Harrysong, recently battled depression. He shares the story of how he conquered depression and other controversies surrounding his career with Chinedu Ibeabuchi
Recently, you shocked the world with your depression message and got your fans worried. What were you actually going through then?
What I was going through was pressure. It was a lot more than I could really have envisaged. I was depressed basically, then it was pressure and I needed to speak out to also help myself and help others. So it was also a lesson not just to me but to others and thank God, I am out stronger and back to business.
So how were you able to conquer your depression process?
Because I was real to myself, it was a big challenge for me. So, I try as much as I can, not to focus on myself but to the works that needed to be done and people that are looking up to me. And being strong for myself is also being strong to millions and also being real for myself is also being real to millions. So, I try as much as I can to put 20 per cent on me and 20 per cent on the people around because at the end of this whole journey, the goal is to be a blessing to my generation and also to live a fulfilled life. Thanks to my manager and the rest of the team.
What is your advice to fellow musicians who are probably passing through a depression process and afraid to speak or don’t know how to speak up just like you.
We have a very good opportunity on social media. There is so much competition and pain there. We are normal just like the average man on the street, we should try as much as possible as we can as celebrities, as role models to be real, be truthful to ourselves and preach love.
As we approach the yuletide period, what should your fans be expecting from you?
Of course, I know my fans are expecting the best from me. They are expecting a single from me and my management is set to drop my next single titled, Report Card. I know they are expecting a lot from the video and audio. Basically, they want the best from me and I can assure them I will not disappoint.
Can you evaluate your 2018?
My 2018 has been a total blessing to me and the entire management of AlterPlate. I prayed to the Lord and yes of course we had some challenges, ‘major’ challenges but we conquered and here we are today, still grinding and pushing harder very strong.
Why do your songs have strong old school vibe, what influences this choice and is it deliberate?
I influence like 80 per cent of my production basically. And about the message, the inspiration from the messages are from life itself, everything that happens every day is my inspiration, what is going on, the ups and downs, the good and the bad, the everything. Life is like my biggest inspiration.
For some time now, you have been running your record label. How is it being the Chief Executive Officer of AlterPlate
As President of Alterplate, it’s been amazing. I am not just as a free man but a responsible man. I am not responsible for just myself alone but for other people as a team, as a company, as a family and as a movement. It feels great to be a source of empowerment as the President of Alterplate. Again, I would say in the best of my knowledge I know that about 70 to 80 per cent, we have served as a very huge content provider in Nigerian entertainment circle.
What has managing Alterplate for this short period taught you differently from being an artist?
It has taught me that being an executive is not just about the label or the platform. It is also about giving back and about an expansion, about making and remolding yourself and that is what we have been doing over the years. Creating new contents, expansion and making and re-making ourselves and that is why we have younger people under the platform whom we are building to become ‘Younger Kings’ to take over the industry and be a blessing basically. The platform is big enough to accommodate as much as we want to bring on board and we have younger ones that we are also building to be unveil very soon, either before the end of this last quarter or say the first quarter of 2019.
Does Harrysong see himself going overseas for greener pastures or to expand your music career in the nearest future?
Music has taken me round the world, from one show or the other. I am not looking for greener pastures, I am very comfortable where I am and besides from where we are, we are inspiring the world and people come from every part of the world to book us for shows and events. We go and do what we have to do to still make money, merry and return to base. So, I don’t think I am going to look for anything else abroad. My management is also considering me doing something outside the Nigerian space, but definitely, not relocating completely.
Let’s go back a little, what really went wrong between you and Five Star Music?
I and Five Star story have been over flogged. We have talked about it severally. Alterplate is about two years now! Going back to that is trying to spill the wheel all over again. We had our good times, we had our rough times, we have moved on. So, we should let it go and just progress. If it is of the will of the people and the will of God that someday Harrysong and Five Star can still do business together, why not? The door is always open.
You talk about the will of God, how religious are you?
God has been good to me. I am a Christian and I love God passionately. And in case you don’t know, I attended and graduated from a pastoral school.
Do you think your life and career generally have been God’s direction, God’s grace?
I succeed by talent, hard work and by God’s grace. There wouldn’t be the Harrysong that you see today and the Harrysong forever if not for God’s grace.
What is that thing that stands Alterplate out?
Alterplate Music is different because of our sound definition, business strategies and our large capacity to execute and meet deadlines.
While growing up, which artiste or what music did you listen to?
I listened to old school music, gospel music and the likes of R-Kelley and Kirk Franklin. Those were the people I listened to. Also, Michael Jackson was also one of my favourite. So, those are the kind of music that defined me today.
Talking about sound, sound keeps revolving in the music industry. What do you think is the problem with Nigerian musicians’ handling of sound?
I don’t see it as a problem because many are called but few are chosen and the challenge with the way Nigeria musicians handle sounds is that when there is a new sound, they over use it and in the end, it becomes a problem and the fans get tired until we have another infusion before there is a relief. For me, it’s what is going to continue even outside the shore of the country, it’s what is working for them. So, at every given time, we have the sounds that come up and everybody will groove until someone else will create something else. So it is normal.
What is one sound that you are yet to explore and you really wish to explore?
The sound that I am yet to explore is the Caribbean sound, because the Nigeria platform is still covered with the copy and paste style. Yes, we cannot leave the Afrobeat sound but artistes are scared to leave their comfort zone. I am approaching that Caribbean sound and we are going to get there.
There is quite a lot that people talk about auto tune. A lot of people say that there are no more original voices anymore. What is the effect of auto tune in music?
First of all, it was called pitch corrector. It is now called auto tune because it is very obvious in the vocals. It has nothing to do with the beat; it has nothing to do with the tune. So, it is mainly on the vocals and that is why it is called pitch corrector. When artistes pitch while singing, that effect is meant to correct the note on the voice. Again, when it is over used, it becomes abused. Now there is no vocal that they don’t put that effect on but the over usage of it is the abuse and it becomes a problem. These days we should grow up understanding that the fans we sell this music to are getting wiser and a lot of things are being questioned. So, auto tune is normal but it shouldn’t be over used because the primary purpose is to correct tune.
What is one of the greatest lessons you have learnt being a music director all your life and then romancing music.
The greatest lesson I have learnt all my years being a music director is to work. Don’t stop working, don’t stop evolving, don’t stop doing your research, improve on your musical knowledge. Nobody is the best. We just get better as it goes. Music is bigger than just the sound. Music is life; music rules the world.
You talked about exploring the Caribbean songs. Are you looking at exploring the Caribbean market?
Yes, I am looking at that. Well, we already have a test run that we did and it is like 60 per cent in the market already. There is possibility that it is going to work. So we are working to improve it.
What is your most embarrassing moment as a music director?
That was when I was in Church of God Mission and I was supposed to work with a set of choir. They didn’t believe in what I was going to offer. They heard so much about me and they saw me as a young man and thought they needed to school me before the session. That rehearsal was supposed to take like five hours and it took like three hours to prove myself to them that the person that they are underrating is actually their teacher.
As an artiste, what will you like to be remembered for?
I will like to be remembered for my works and the messages that pass through my music, the work that I have done and how it has infected the people. Basically, I would like to be remembered for doing evergreen songs.
Who are your favourite all-time Nigerian musicians?
Fela Anikulapo Kuti, Rex Lawson and Tuface Idibia. I love their legacy and inspirations.
How about fishing? I learnt that you used to be a fisherman?
(Laughs) Yes. I am half Deltan, half Bayelsan and I grew up in Port Harcourt. It is natural. I used to be a fisherman, but music got the better part of me and here I am today. God willing, I will go back to the business of fishing someday.
You recently did a remix of Selense and there were some controversies or some disagreement around the artiste you were to feature. What actually happened?
Selense was already a hit song and I decided not to feature Kiss Daniel for the remix. We did the remix with Iyanya and Dice Ailes. The original song was with Kiss Daniel and Reekado Banks. But I didn’t shoot the video because, at some point in the project, I realised they weren’t falling in line with the original idea of having them in the song. So, I moved on and I am happy I did. I still love them regardless.