had the chance to have another exclusive chat with a prestigious
artist that has been working for Madonna getting in touch
with DJ Barry Harris on October 2004. Barry
has recently found some quality time to give an answer to
all the things we wanted to ask him about his works and
his career. Here you go!
Barry, welcome to MadonnaTribe.
You've been a club Dj for 20 years. How did you get your
passion for music and how did you start your career?
BH: I've always been attracted to music since I was
young. I learned piano around age 8 or 9 and guitar by 13.
I was in a rock band by 16 playing bass. Somewhere around
that same time when I was 16 I came out. I went to my first
gay disco. I was utterly blown away. I remember hearing
Donna Summer "Try Me". From that moment on I was
a big Donna Summer fan, but I was also very keen to acknowledge
her producer and co-songwriter Girgio Moroder. He was clearly
a huge part of her success and of course his own. Giorgio
became a HUGE influence on me when it came to dance music.
I started DJ ing by 1983. Because I was such a huge dance
music fan, it came by very naturally and easily for me.
MT: How do you approach
a song to remix? Do you get ideas from listening to the
BH: Absolutely there are ideas from the
original. Often I’d pick a phrase that might work
on the dance floor and repeat it or filter i.e. "Lights
are low so let's get busy" and "Deep In The
Dark" from Leann Rimes' Thunderpuss remix on "Can't
Fight The Moonlight".
Is it difficult to turn slow songs or ballads into dance
anthems? That's something you had to do quite a lot of
BH: Sometimes it's difficult
sometimes it's easy. It depends on the original song.
Usually you can simply double the BPM (beats per minute).
It also depends on the phrasing of the song and how many
lyrics & sometimes the performance itself. There IS
however a bpm range that Chris and I would turn down which
was around 80 - 90 bpm. That's very very difficult to
make the vocals sound as if the song was re-done e.g.
"My Love Is Your Love" by Whitney and "Bye
Bye Bye" by N-Sync
MT: How did you and Chris Cox become
Thunderpuss and how did you choose that
BH: Chris and I became friends over the
phone throughout the 90's. He's much more technically
oriented than I am. We both work on Macintosh and Digital
Performer. Whenever I had a tech problem that I couldn't
solve when I was working on my own out of Toronto 92 -95,
I’d call Chris.
eventually would chat about other things and became good
friends as we discovered we both had a REALLY obscure and
unusual sick sense of humor. Perhaps that's also why we
agreed on the name Thunderpuss. I liked the idea that it
was a bit "eyebrow raising".
MT: Which is the remix you did alone or
with Thunderpuss that you think is your best work?
BH: I've always felt "No More Drama"
by Mary J Blige was our best. Mostly because there are 3
tempo changes. I felt it was quite the Masterpiece and Chris
and I at our best and both contributing 110% of our talent
and passion. The song itself also really moved me!!
MT: And your best Madonna remix ever?
BH: "What It Feels Like For A Girl"
MT: When Madonna's "Music" album was
released, the fans more fond of dance remixes started discussing
on which dee-jay they would have chosen for producing dance
anthems from the new album, among those who had not worked
with her yet.
I admit that the "Thunderpuss 2000" name was quite
recurrent at the time, a lot of people were wondering how
long would have been taking to Warners to ask you and Chris
to remix one Madonna track. Was it the same for you, have
you been waiting to put your hands on her music for long?
BH: I WAS frustrated at the time.
I really HAD wanted to work with Madonna for quite a while.
Even with our track record at the time I was quite surprised
that it was STILL difficult to "break into her camp"
so to speak. I do however understand more than ever the
work involved in maintaining the status of a "global
star". It takes a full time team of Management and
Record Company people and of course the Artist themselves.
To stay that big you really have to be a workaholic. I know
now there's a lot of craziness and distractions when a lot
of people are so so busy and getting pulled this way and
that. I think other remix artists were simply more in their
face at the time.
MT: And then Don't Tell Me came around.
What do you think of the amazing success of this song had
and were expecting such a great success while you guys were
remixing the track?
BH: Well there's always a lot of thought
(a least for me) put into a mix and what kind of direction
it should be. I didn't believe that Madonna herself would
really want a standard Thunderpuss formula mix.
I felt it should be creative, inventive and cool. I didn't
WANT to do a "Hand's In The Air Anthem" at first...though
I knew we could do one with our eyes closed.
That's something one has to consider, do you make a mix
solely for the dance floor? Or/and something the artist
is going to appreciate.
I knew Madonna herself was going to listen to the mix and
not just a record company A/R guy. I knew it had to get
past her first, so I created and fought for a mix that I
was sure she would like... which she did. After we got past
that barrier, Chris REALLY wanted to do the Hands In The
Air Anthem, so I agreed and "went with it".
MT: Don't Tell Me has been part of the last two
Madonna tours. Did you happen to see her perform live?
What do you think of the show?
BH: No…did she do the l.p. mix? Or our Remix?
Don’t know…didn’t see it!
You were also asked to do the megamix to promote Madonna's
second Greatest Hits album.
How did it come to life? Did you decide which tracks to
include in the megamix or were they suggested by Madonna?
BH: Warners approached us with the idea.
I think they had the idea actually and had us do it first.
Warners loved what we did, then they submitted the end
result to her to see what she thought.
MT: With Thunderpuss you also created
a club megamix of the GHV2 songs divided into two parts.
These mixes are floating around and are amazing If we
are not mistaken some of the vocals you used on the Deeper
And Deeper section also seem to be alternate vocals.
BH: Thanks! We were sent all the accapellas
from these great songs. I was really surprised myself
to hear some of those vocal parts that weren’t used
in the original! Of course I just HAD to put them in the
Doing that megamix was quite exhausting but also a labour
I had to basically re-write the music to all those songs
in a way that hadn’t been done before. I was also
pleased to hear what I interpret as Madonna “laughing
at herself” at the end of “Ray Of Light”.
The first time I heard the original “Ray Of Light”
In my heart I JUST KNEW she was laughing after she did
that big funny “wail” at the end, but it was
muted out of the original.
So here I am 3 years later with the power to NOT mute
it and put it back in! It was very endearing to hear Madonna
“lighten up” and not be so serious for a change!!
Why in the end these megamixes were not commercially released?
BH: I guess I shouldn’t have
put that laugh back in! Just kidding..i really don’t
know, Madonna’s manager Careese didn’t care
for them.. “Shrugs” - Ce’st La Vie.
MT: One of the songs you had to speed up
in the megamix was the ballad Take A Bow, was it difficult?
Some words of the lyrics had to be removed to let the mix
BH: Yes I know. I really felt this song
shouldn’t be in the megamix…well at least the
dance megamix. I really didn’t want to put it in at
all, but as it’s one of her biggest hit’s of
the decade Chris insisted that it be in. I also feel that
“Take A Bow” shouldn't be a dance song. It’s
simply too moody so to speak to be reinterpreted as a “fun”
MT: Let's talk about the "What It Feels Like
For A Girl" incident. Thunderpuss were commissioned
an official remix by Warners. We've heard it apparently
was originally rejected because of a bootleg unofficial
mix of the song being passed as your mix on sharing programs.
As a remixer myself, it wasn't hard to figure out that what
had "leaked" on the internet was a home-made bootleg
and definetly not a genuine Thunderpuss production. Can
you tell us more in detail what happened.
BH: We were in the had been working on WIFLFAG
for about 3 weeks. We had the first final result sent in
We were waiting to here back and working on another project
in our 2nd studio.
All of a sudden one morning I get a call from Warner’s
saying that our mix is on the Internet. Both Chris and
I KNEW that was impossible but spent the entire day trying
to figure out what was going on.
We came to the conclusion that someone had simply posted
a re-edit of the original and called it the Thunderpuss
This was also RIGHT around the time of the downfall of
Napster, so Warner Bros we’re REALLY REALLY sensitive
to the issue of mp3’s and the Internet. They were
scouring the net for their product that was getting illegally
Chris and I tried to explain that our mix was NOT on the
Internet. It didn’t seem to matter. A few day’s
later they simply turned down the mix and that was the
end of it. Once again “C’est La Vie”.
I’m over it now, but because I felt we worked so
hard on the mix and took a LOT of time with it - we were
treated unfairly, but hey….it’s the Music
Biz. You have to go with the punches.
MT: Your Die Another Day Remix was a great success,
how did you approach the song, which is not the typical
James Bond theme.
BH: Chris get’s most credit for
that one. He came up with the killer drum/percussion track.
This is one mix we approached differently yet again.
We used a lot of the original elements and simply “clubbed
it up”. I didn’t think a lot of music or re-writing
of music was necessary. The song was full of hooks as
it was. Just highlight them and let the song ‘breathe”.
Your own mix of Madonna's "Holiday" is definitely
tribal, and the new version she performs on her Re-Invention
Tour is tribal as well. Did you have a chance to listen
to it, I think it's a nice coincidence.
BH: I did my mix of Holiday just for fun. Just
as more of a DJ tool. I only gave it out to a couple of
DJ friends. It’s amazing how fast things can get out
there in the Internet…phew!. No I didn’t hear
her version on the Re-Invention Tour. Perhaps she heard
my mix and heard how Holiday really COULD be ‘tribalized’…I’m
MT: Do more unreleased Madonna mixes by
you or Thunderpuss exist? Did you happen to work on any
Madonna track before your first commissioned mix?
BH: I’m not going to tell you that.
I don’t need any other “Internet Drama”
I’ll keep the answer to that question as a mystery!!
MT: Do you have a favourite Madonna song of all
time that you would like to remix or an old Madonna classic
that you think could really shine with a new musical treatment?
BH: After doing the megamix with all her
major classics in front of me…no. My remix life with
Madonna is complete!!
MT: If you will be asked to remix a new
Madonna song do you already have ideas of sounds and styles
to try, something you maybe wanted to do on previous occations?
BH: I don’t have anything in mind
at the moment. But I’m very a ‘cross that bridge
when you come to it” kinda guy. I’m sure I’d
scan my brain and come up with something new and fresh that
hasn’t been done before.
MT: We can say that in many
ways Madonna is our idol, do you have an idol too in the
world of remixers and producers?
BH: In the world of remixers and producers
would be originally John “Jellybean” Benitez
who I’m sure you’re all acquainted with. Giorgio
Moroder was a huge influence and David Bowie is still
an idol of mine.
I’ve often thought Madonna was very much the Female
version of David Bowie.
Always changing, challenging herself and moving on to
new experiences. Both are very much an “Artist”.
MT: Do you test your remixes in clubs
before sending them back to the labels to feel the crowd's
reaction and maybe adjust few things?
BH: Absolutely. Both Chris and I used
to play out on the weekend and discuss weather the “final
mix” sounded great or not. Often we’d ‘re-tweek’
a mix and run it down a second or third time!
You declared that you decided to quit Thunderpuss because
you were ready to do something different and that Thunderpuss
had run its course. It was a very courageous decision to
take in September 2003, especially with the success the
project was having. Sometimes the dee-jays who produce and
remix end up creating a sort of "signature" style
that makes you able to instantly recognize their unique
approach to a song.
Have you been able to figure out what makes a Barry Harris
Remix different from a Thunderpuss Mix or your style continued
evolving without breaks since you and Chris parted ways?
BH: Dance music or club music itself has not changed
very much the past 2 or 3 years…hmmmm…maybe
even more. I’ve been quite bored with it and too pretty
much the past year and a half off.
I just completed Chaka Khan - “To Sir With Love”.
She was a Diva that I hadn’t remixed yet and was excited
and thrilled to be asked.
I’m in a very “back to the ‘80’s
“ kind of mood these days. However I’m pretty
sure that Madonna wouldn’t be interested in that vibe
as she’s already “been there, done that”!
I’ve only started recently to poke my head out and
start remixing again. I find most dance music very boring
the past few years.
MT: You've been spinning in clubs all over the
world. After twenty years behind the mixing desk, do you
have a favorite audience or a country where you particularly
BH: Of course the U.S. I also love my
hometown Toronto, and of course have always had a soft
spot for Brazil!!
MT: Which are your future projects, are
you working on something special at the moment?
BH: I’m most excited about Chaka’s
- “To Sir With Love” at the moment!!
MT: Thanks so much Barry for stopping
by at MadonnaTribe. It was great to have a chance to know
you and your work a little better.
BH: You’re welcome!! And a big
beijos and kisses and group hugs to all the Madonna fans
from all over the world!!!
Love ya!…mean it!!