MadonnaTribe 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!


MT: Hello 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.


How do you approach a song to remix? Do you get ideas from listening to the original version?

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".

MT: Is it difficult to turn slow songs or ballads into dance anthems? That's something you had to do quite a lot of times.

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.


We 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" hands down.


: 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".

: 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?

: No…did she do the l.p. mix? Or our Remix? Don’t know…didn’t see it!


MT: 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 megamix.

Doing that megamix was quite exhausting but also a labour of love.
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!!


MT: Why in the end these megamixes were not commercially released?

: 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 flow..

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” dance version.


: 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.

: We were in the had been working on WIFLFAG for about 3 weeks. We had the first final result sent in for approval.
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 remix.
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 traded.

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.

: 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”.


MT: 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.

: 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 not sure!!

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” thanks!!
I’ll keep the answer to that question as a mystery!!


: 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!


MT: 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?

: 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.


: 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 enjoy playing?

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 “Muah”…
beijos and kisses and group hugs to all the Madonna fans from all over the world!!!

Love ya!…mean it!!


MadonnaTribe would like to thank Barry for sharing his time, his talent and his music with the Madonna Fans.
Be sure to check out his biography, his impressive credit list, the latest news and much more at his official website:

Copyright 2005 | Pictures of Barry Harris courtesy of the artist

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