The spotlight is on Duane Harden, the man behind smash records "You Don't Know Me" with Armand Van Helden, "Love Generation" with Bob Sinclar, and R&B sensation Sean Kingston's "Party All Night (Sleep All Day)." Harden is CEO of the New York-based Soltrenz Records which is soon to release his first studio album, the first songwriter's mixtape within his genre, entitled ‘Naked Before You’ (#NB4U).
Whether it’s his entrepreneurial mindset or happy-go-lucky attitude, Duane always bears a smile. He’s the most genuine person you’ll meet, so it comes as no surprise that he’s made some friends along the way. Duane Harden’s personality shines in #NB4U, the 12-track album where he teams up with pals like Sidney Samson, Ferry Corsten, Louie Vega, Gregor Salto, Adrienne Bailon, and many more. Learn more about #NB4U and Duane Harden, as he bares his soul in our exclusive interview, below.
Preview the VIBE exclusive premiere of “Dying Inside” from Naked Before You. The single features Duane, the ‘Australia's Got Talent’ Judge and Sony platinum recording artist Timomatic, and rising rapper Jamie Drastik, and it was produced by Moises Modesto, William Gallego, and Jay Dabhi. Listen up, and be sure to take advantage of the discounted pre-order ($2.99) before it goes back to full price Nov 4th. Pre-order.
Duane Harden, Timomatic & Jamie Drastik - Dying Inside (Snippet) by Duane Harden
What is #NB4U and what does it mean to be a #NB4U artist?
"Being human" is quite an interesting notion as we've gotten really good at pretending to be "human". We walk around wearing our many hidden and yet reflective layers that disguise the real robots that we are. As life begins to peel away at each one of these layers, the world begins to get just a glimpse at who we really are. This is where humanity lives. It is only in that moment that you are truly alive when you allow yourself to lie naked in your truth. Nothing to hide .. no fear of judgments and no one to judge ... just unconditional love. #NB4U is the artist and my confessions of our untainted truth. Listen ... peel .. transform .. and allow yourself and the world to love the real you.
#NB4U explores many different musical landscapes. Its 12 tracks feature pop, r&b, and hip-hop artists as well as superstar DJs. Do you feel that it’s essential for artists to explore various genres? Why or why not?
Before I am a DJ, vocalist, or even a producer, I am a songwriter. The 12 songs were ordered in a particular way to create a particular experience for you [listen from start to finish]. We, as dance artists, get so caught up in the bass & beats that we forget to start with the most basic element... a song. #NB4U is a collection of songs, not genres. If artists would just let go of this genre stigma or commercial vs. underground stigma, the world would start to get more music that it really needs. Let Go!
You’ve written a number of hit records throughout your career. What inspires you to write a record like “Love Generation?"
I'll never forget one writing session with another artist, [who] basically said "if we write one more happy song I swear I'm going to kill you". We both laughed. I do write a lot of "happy" or rather inspiring songs. I just see music should have healing power. ...We all go through whatever we go through... the weekend comes, we go spend our hard-earned money clubbing, [and] we want to forget about all our problems. That's why I keep writing the lyrics that I do. On co-writing “Love Generation" in particular, I was riding the "2" train from home to meet up with Bob Sinclar and Gary Pine in the studio in NYC. I looked around in that crowded train and based on the expressions on people’s faces, I tried to imagine how their day [week, and life] was like. [Using] my imagination, the first verse was born "Why must our children play in the streets with broken hearts and faded dreams". I wonder if any of those people know their facial expressions are what [inspired] a hit song!
EDM has grown exponentially within the US. Do you find that major labels and/or big-time artists are looking for more dance-driven productions?
Everybody and their mother is. I'm like, ..wow.. we've been here the whole time, welcome to the party! You kinda late, because I'm ready to go the next one!
How did you get started in the music business? What advice can you give to aspiring artists?
My brother was the talented [one] in the family, I was the computer nerd. He had this amazing song called "World of Dreams," and when he passed away I [was determined] to get it professionally recorded. I spent $15k on equipment that I had no clue on how to use, [and eventually created Soltrenz], our music company with Moises Modesto. Still, to this day, I say I'm not a singer. [But] when the music moved me while I was dancing, I'd just start singing. This is actually how I met Armand Van Helden. From my “screaming” over tracks he played in his set at the Loft, a small Boston club back in the day, he seemed to think I was a "singer". He soon reached out [to collab] on what became my first song that I ever wrote and sang, "You Don't Know Me". It was written in 15 minutes and recorded in about 1 hour.
Some people need drugs or alcohol to get high, I'm just a club kid that gets high on music.
My advice to aspiring artists I've already given, “Let Go!!!”
See what superstar friends support #NB4U: