RVA's DJ Harrison pays tribute to Sly Stone with new cassette, 'Slyish'

Posted by: Amy – Apr 06, 2016


Well known and ever-evolving RVA beatmaker DJ Harrison can always be counted on to release material that's unique to make us get out of our comfort zone.

On Friday, the man behind Jellowstone Records will release Slyish, a nine-track cassette of fuzzy lo-fi sounds and vocals dedicated to the funk man himself, Sly Stone.

With it's hazy, record-on the-player like quality, Slyish takes you back to simpler days, while at the same time, integrating groovy, funky and heavy beats that you can still get down to even if you weren't around for the days you put a record on.

All of the vocals and instrumentals were done by Harris alone, but he released it under Street Corner Music, a small independent label based in Los Angeles with DJ House Shoes. Some of Harrison's friends who live out there shared his music with the DJ and he reached out to DJ Harrison to come and meet him in LA.

"I got to meet him and it was really cool, as far as hip hop, he's kind of a legendary DJ there," Harrison said.

Harrison, real name Devonne Harris, has been busy working on the songs for the last year and a half, but he said the frontman of 70s funk sensation Sly and the Family Stone was a huge influence on him from a young age.

"I've always grown up with him as far as having records in the house, my mom and dad had records, the radio stations that we were listening to always played his music and once I got older and started collecting my own and really getting into the actual being a musician part of it, I ended up re-dicovering it and the sound of it was so distinct."

Harris was inspired by Sly and the Family Stone's fifth studio album There's a Riot Going On', which was released in 1971 for this record.

"It's not the cleanest sound in the world, but it's all about the subject and what's being played," he said. "The reason it sounds so muddy, and muffled is because Sly was fighting with the band, they would record then they would get in an argument then they would leave and he would erase it and record over it countless times," said Harrison.

He even covers the Sly Stone song "Running Away" on the cassette.

Drum machine sounds, wawa keyboard sounds, guitar layers and other various noises can all be heard all Slyish to re-create that lo-fi sound heard on Sly and the Family Stone's album which is a testament to Harris' unique style and undeniable creativity.

"What I wanted to was move around microphones and try different effects that capture that sound the best," he said. "Growing up and getting deep into music and learning the instruments I already had a fine grasp on it by the time I recorded Slyish. The thing about it was, was tryign to match the style of the music and instruments they were playing and also trrying to match the sound quality, that was my first time trying to emulate a record sound quality."

Slyish will be available on cassette and iTunes April 8th.

Words by Amy David