Behind the Boards with HARV: Producer and Songwriter Talks Justin Bieber, Normani, Juice WRLD, and More
The post Behind the Boards with HARV: Producer and Songwriter Talks Justin Bieber, Normani, Juice WRLD, and More appeared first on Consequence.
Behind the Boards is a series where we spotlight some of the biggest producers in the industry and dig into some of their favorite projects. Here, we sit down with HARV to discuss his work with Justin Bieber, Joe Jonas and Khalid, and more.
Like many in the songwriting and production fields, Bernard “Harv” Harvey began his career as a touring musician. Known for his prowess on the bass guitar, the Kansas City native saw his career blossom in 2009 when he earned a spot playing bass for a 15 year-old Justin Bieber. Fast-forward 13 years, and HARV has become a significant producer and songwriter in his own right, and he’s been a go-to collaborator for Bieber and the biggest stars in music.
It’s been a long journey for HARV, and when he connects with Consequence over Zoom, he’s seated in the backyard of his Los Angeles home taking in the sunshine. The last few years have been particularly hectic for him, especially with work on Bieber’s pandemic-helmed album Justice giving way to numerous other collaborations, including a significant amount of work on Normani‘s upcoming debut LP. Now, HARV is gearing up for his biggest statement yet: a solo project. “I’m gearing up to release a single at the top of next year, and I’m super excited about it,” HARV tells Consequence. “Honestly, it’s going real great!”
He’s undoubtedly in high spirits for our conversation, and considering the amount of high profile singles he’s worked on in the past couple years, he won’t be losing creative momentum any time soon. Not only is he in the process of helming his solo project and Normani’s debut, he’s hard at work on Justin Bieber’s next LP. “I think it’s gonna be amazing. It’s gonna be insane,” he teases.
Though HARV is certainly comfortable being the go-to collaborator for these artists, he has also worked with a laundry list of other collaborators and producers, including Skrillex and Ryan Tedder. He calls Skrillex “one of the most talented creators I’ve collaborated with… I think everybody knows him as the EDM DJ and in that space. But no, he’s the man when it comes to actually just sitting down and producing and writing songs.” And about Ryan Tedder — with whom he wrote and produced Joe Jonas and Khalid’s new song “Not Alone” for the film Devotion — HARV says, “When you’re working with Ryan Tedder, you never know what the day is gonna consist of… you never know what you’re gonna be getting yourself into.”
As for HARV himself, his process is simple. “I like to call myself a ‘100 percent-er’,” he tells me. “When I’m creating, the songwriting, the production… it all kind of runs together for me.”
Read below for a deep dive into five standout productions from HARV, including Justin Bieber, Giveon, and Daniel Caesar’s “Peaches,” Normani’s “Fair,” and more.
Justin Bieber – “Peaches (feat. Giveon and Daniel Caesar)”
I mean, it was “Peaches,” man. I call it my “Covid baby” song [laughs]. We made that song during the pandemic, so it was a little different. We weren’t all in the studio at the same time. But we took an Instagram snippet of Justin playing piano and went to the studio and produced the song around it. And then I sent the track that I produced around the Instagram clip to Justin, and Justin goes into the studio and writes the verse, and kind of re-sings the hook to make it a little bit more clear.
And we kind of just sent it back to each other through iMessage and such, and then we reached out to Giveon that same day to jump on the song. Giveon jumped on and killed it. Daniel Caesar jumped on I think like two weeks after that. So yeah, we created that song totally remotely, smack-dab in the middle of COVID. It was cool, man.
Juice WRLD & Justin Bieber – “Wandered to LA”
First of all, I’m just super blessed to be a part of that song. That project was something that Juice WRLD’s camp really wanted to get out, and it was something for mental health and drug awareness and stuff like that. So just to be a part of that for me was just really cool.
But yeah, we were in the studio, just a random day, and Justin, I know they wanted to get Justin on the song with Juice, and that was the song that they had. And Justin wanted to switch the production. It was already a song, and then Justin went and wrote his verse and wanted to switch the production up, so he asked me to kind of make it more to where it makes sense for him to be a part of the song. Because at first, it kind of just sounded like a Juice WRLD song by himself. Louis Bell had produced it, and he’s one of the top songwriters, producers, and creators of what’s happening right now in music.
But yeah, Justin just wanted me to come in and put our sauce on it a little bit. So I kind of switched it up, you know, put the “HARV and Bieber” sauce on it, and I think it came out really, really good.
Skrillex, Justin Bieber, and Don Toliver – “Don’t Go”
So that song, believe it or not, was actually supposed to go on Justice. That’s a little “inside scoop.” So yeah, it was supposed to go on Justin’s album, however, Skrillex wanted it to be his song. But yeah, we created that and that happened during the making of Justice. Around that time, I was working with Skrillex a lot. Almost three or four times a week I would just go down to his studio.
And Sonny [Moore], he’s probably one of the most talented creators I’ve ever collaborated with. He’s a super musical genius. Like, I don’t think he gets the credit enough for being a phenomenal producer. I think everybody knows him as the EDM DJ and in that space. But no, he’s the man when it comes to actually just sitting down and producing and writing songs.
So yeah, that song came about. We probably did like 50 ideas, just Skrillex and I, because we were in the studio all day playing instruments, freaking songs, changing songs, and then “Don’t Go” happened. We were playing this little melody and Gregory Hein (A.K.A. Aldae), started saying, “Don’t go home.” He started the little melody and we were like, “Wait, what is that?”
Then one thing led to the next, and we finished it and I let Justin hear it. He loved it and then he jumped on it and then we were like, “Who can we get on?” We started thinking about rappers that would be cool for a feature. And you know, Justin and Don [Toliver] have a really good relationship. So yeah, we threw Don Toliver on the track, and the rest is history.
Normani – “Fair”
I’m working with her now and wrapping up her debut album. People know who Normani is, and know she came from Fifth Harmony. She’s this beautiful Black star. With “Fair,” and as I’m working with her album, we wanted to create a nice, solid body of work that people can start identifying themselves with her musically. Because it’s always been a thing of knowing who she is and where she’s came from in the group, but we just want to hear more music.
I think “Fair” was just tapping into like her sensuality and her femininity, and if you listen to it, you can tell she’s being vulnerable. It’s her coming into her own as an artist and her music. It’s passion. It’s heartfelt. It’s her feelings. So, I just wanted to find a way to convey that with her musically, and while working with her, I wanted to bring that out of her.
And then the next couple songs we’re gonna do is gonna be the uptempo dance songs and what people are expecting from her. But I think what gives an artist longevity is when the consumers and the fans can really dive into their favorite artist in different ways. Sometimes that’s just the ballad, or that’s the mid-tempo song, the songs with substance. So I think “Fair,” for us, was the song with substance. It’s also the setup, showing that she is a real artist with real concepts and real emotions and real feelings.
With Normani, our favorite word right now is “intent.” Like, everything that we’re doing has an intention, we’re doing it with purpose. The song, the concepts, the characters, the emotion, the expressions… everything has intent. We’re being very smart about how we approach the music right now. So yeah, all of that’s going in and those are definitely the conversations that we’re having. “Fair” came out around March, and I’ve been working with her for like eight months now, so it’s like we’re in fourth quarter, 56 seconds left to go, we’ve got the ball in our hands. We just have to go and win the game.
Joe Jonas, Khalid – “Not Alone”
I was working with Ryan Tedder one day. It’s funny, when you’re working with Ryan Tedder, you never know what this day is gonna consist of. Like, you think you’re just gonna go over there and it’s gonna be just you and Ryan, and then you get there, it’s like you, Ryan, Joe Jonas is on the Zoom, you know what I’m saying? You’re like, “Oh, okay. Hi Joe. What’s up bro?”
So yeah, that’s how that happened. We were working and Ryan told me he was working with Joe for this movie [Devotion], and I thought I had some time to prep. And then when I get there, Joe’s right there on the Zoom, but once he explained what this song was about and the movie itself is about, it started to make a little more sense. The movie is based off of a true story of a war hero, a pilot. So for me, just to be a part of that, and just to be working with Joe and Ryan, and then having Khalid jump on the song, it was a blessing, man. It was super cool.
We sat and we wrote the song and we worked for a solid two hour session. And then I didn’t hear it. It’s so funny cause I didn’t hear anything about it. I mean, I knew the song was going. But then all of a sudden I wake up to Joe and Ryan’s Instagram post, about Devotion. I was like, “…what? It’s out?” It’s just a cool thing. Like I say, you never know working with Ryan Tedder, you never know what you’re gonna be getting yourself into. Both Ryan and Sonny [Moore] just have this kinetic energy. It’s captivating, it’s inviting, but at the same time, we are working on a huge song for a huge artist.
Behind the Boards with HARV: Producer and Songwriter Talks Justin Bieber, Normani, Juice WRLD, and More
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