Music for Music’s Sake: Malcolm Harvest Shares His Reason for Being

“From day one, I was like I want to be a rock star,” Malcolm Harvest says with no airs. It’s not what most people think though. The Compton native isn’t talking about the fame and riches that come with that distinction. Instead he’s coming from a completely different place rooted in the true essence of the term.

“For me what a ‘rock star’ means is somebody that has no limits and no boundaries to their music,” he explains. Michael Jackson, Jim Morrison, Eric Clapton and Stevie Wonder are a few who fit the bill. Music is literally in his blood. His paternal grandmother, whom Harvest boasts was a “phenomenal piano player,” majored in music at Prairie View University. She was actually in a trio with his grandfather and used to play on the radio, with different artists that would come to Livingston, Texas. His father played keyboard in a group, produced records and even signed an artist to Sony.

Even though Harvest has felt that music was his calling since he was 12, he didn’t always give his all to it. Instead, he acted in commercials and film and even played college sports. Growing up, his mom stressed education more and didn’t let him put all his eggs in the music or creative basket. Still he couldn’t run away from his objective. But it wasn’t until he got back to L.A. from Humboldt State University that he gave music his all, first recording with a group he had with his friends in his father’s home studio.

Galaxy West or G West, as they were also known, Harvest says, “opened up more doors for me to be able to become a songwriter.” Harvest has numerous song placements and co-writes with a variety of artists, from a song on Usher’s forthcoming project, titled “Choosing Me,” a co-write on Tamar Braxton’s “How I Feel,” featured on her Bluebird of Happiness album; to work with France’s DJ R-wan; several songs with Pop/R&B singer Mike Jay; and with Pop/R&B artist Alexis Ayaana, among others. Although Harvest has gotten numerous placements, with many overseas, writing songs for himself gives him the biggest joy.

“It’s much easier for me to write songs for myself than it is for me to write songs for other people,” he reveals, “just because I’m really in touch with myself, emotionally, and so it’s really easy for me to go back to a place and say, ‘hey, I need to release this energy or release these emotions.’

“When I write songs for myself, it’s a lot less conceptual than when I write songs for other people,” he explains. “When I’m writing songs, for other people, it’s much easier for me to sit down, have a conversation with them, and then develop something conceptually that fits where they are in their life. Now when I write for myself, I try to just find the hard place that I want to expose.”

Some of Harvest’s early mentors include producers Noel “Detail” Fisher, whose notable credits include Ray J’s “Sexy Can I,” Lil Wayne’s “How To Love” and Beyoncé’s “Drunk in Love”; Erik “Bluetooth” Griggs, whose credits include “No Air” by Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown; and Derryck ‘Big Tank’ Thornton who was the music supervisor for The Boondocks.

These days Harvest believes he is honing into his sound, which is why he deleted most of his previous music from his SoundCloud. He believes that his latest single “Welcome 2 L.A.” (signed through the independent label PUSHPOWER 48 Records) shows that. Harvest is also expected to release his debut EP, Free, in the fall.

“I feel this can be one of the biggest records of the year,” he says, “one because of how it feels. You know, it really feels like California. It really feels like a sunny day. It feels like a good time and then lyrically, you know, it’s a story. It’s a story of triumph, but it’s also a cautionary tale, right. When you come to L.A., there’s a good chance that you can find what you want, [that] you can find your dream, [that] you can achieve it. But on the other side of that, there’s also the opportunity that, if you don’t stay focused on that goal, you can end up where a lot of people have ended up and that’s by the wayside. L.A. has one of the largest homeless populations in the country so it’s a very real place Los Angeles.”

“I’m just excited to get my brand out there,” he continues. “I want to be an artist that is revered because I’m fully immersed in my craft…I don’t do music because I want money; I do music because it’s how I function…If music is not in my life, my life is out of balance.”

by Ronda Racha Penrice