Scottish born Adam Wiles, better known by his world-beating pseudonym of Calvin Harris, has been a staple in charts across the globe for over a decade. While his endeavors across this period haven’t always resonated with music fans as well as he would have hoped, one thing no one can accuse him of is letting his sound become stagnant.
With every release, Calvin Harris has tweaked (or in some cases, completely flipped) his trademark production style. Having first burst onto the pop scene in 2007 with iconic hits like 'Acceptable in the 80s', he very quickly established himself as someone with a keen eye for a hook, and songwriting qualities of someone with 20 years of experience behind them.
His new-found superstardom subsequently saw him release his second album in 2009; 'Ready For The Weekend'. This effort built upon the pop sensibilities of his previous work, and added a sprinkle of electronica for good measure.
It wasn’t until 2012 that Calvin Harris put both feet into the EDM sphere. His third album, '18 Months', confirmed to any remaining doubters that this was an artist who was reaching heights that very few had reached before. The record went on to become the first ever to spawn nine top-ten singles.
The album that followed, 2014’s 'Motion', was his crowning moment, at least in the EDM world. During the tour for this album, he headlined festivals and played to crowds of monumental sizes. But with the shelf life of the genre becoming alarmingly short, Harris knew that he had to adapt, just like he had been doing with every release up to this point.
He embraced an entire new sound in 2017 with his 'Funk Wav Bounces Vol.1' release, collaborating with the likes of Young Thug, ScHoolboy Q, and Pharrell to form a funk-pop fusion which saw plenty of praise the music press, while disappointing those who were still clinging onto the carcass of EDM.
We now reach 2020, where Calvin Harris has broken enough records and had enough number one singles to satisfy even the most keen of commercial appetites. After having a relatively quiet couple of years, he returned on Radio 1 speaking to Annie Mac about his new single, and what seems to be a new alias by the name of Love Regenerator. He discusses the name change and actually goes as far as to say that he has begun to attach negative connotations to the Calvin Harris name, claiming that he associates it with making music that he never really wanted to make.
He cites Paul Woolford in the interview too, noting that the four albums he released in 2019 under the Special Request alias were a bit of a wake up call for him: “I can tell as the end listener that he’s absolutely loving what he’s doing… and I just thought, ‘I’ll have a bit of that, thanks’”.
Calvin Harris at Rock en Seine
What this epiphany leaves us with is a new single, complete with a b-side of sorts. The lead track, titled ‘Hypnagogic (I Can’t Wait)’, opens with an acid synth line, instantly showcasing that this new alias is much more than a tweak - we’re witnessing a complete transformation of an artist. A broken beat drum pattern crashes into the mix, undoubtedly a homage to the aforementioned Special Request albums of last year. We’re then treated to a stellar vocal sample before all the components bow down to celestial piano riff. The drums then return, this time with reinforcements to round off an anthemic fusion of breakbeat, electro, and piano-house.
The second track of this release, titled ‘CP-1’ takes a slightly different path, drawing from the likes of Adam Beyer and his popularised style of big room techno. What’s clear on this track more than anything, is that structurally, he is not drifting worlds apart from his previous releases - but what is changing is both the soundscape and the execution. The Love Regenerator alias seems to be the name under which Adam Wiles is releasing music that he’s been hiding away for his whole career, and the liberation that he is experiencing throughout the creative process translates seamlessly into the finished product.
With this release, it is abundantly clear that we are seeing an artist who is converting himself from a mindless crowd pleaser to a revitalised producer who has a lot more in his locker than he’s ever been given credit for.