British-born Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer Richard Harris is the creator of a prodigious catalog of songs heard regularly on network television shows for CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, The BBC, History Channel, Lifetime, MTV, Discovery Channel, TNT and many others outlets. Among recent song placements is “Own It,” co-written with Amy Stroup and Patricia Bahia for Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists. His feature film credits include “Break Me Off,” the end title to the Tyler Perry movie The Single Mom’s Club as performed under Harris’ alter ego artist moniker, KiDD R!CH (featuring Amie Miriello.)
Harris collaborates internationally on projects with artists from South Africa to Japan. Stateside, having written chart hits for Katharine McPhee among others, he is now working with emerging pop artists Carly and Martina, twin sisters with two Number Ones on radio Disney’s Total Request Now.
Signed as a writer to peermusic, a global publisher, affords connections across a vast geography, but the engaging Harris also makes his own opportunities as a supportive mentor and an animated guest at multiple music conferences. “Your business is only as good as the network you have,” Harris affirms. “You have to build relationships.”
“Reading musical changes is also key,” he notes. “Understanding what the trends are and moving that into your language. Six or seven years ago it was more singer-songwriter oriented; glockenspiels, sweet voices and handclaps. Now it’s more bluesy sounding and swaggier.”
Harris’ father, Johnny Harris, is a music maker with a multitude of careers, first as a musician, songwriter and musical director for artists like Tom Jones, Engelbert Humperdinck and Paul Anka, before composing for films. “I saw him writing charts and scores on paper for full orchestras with a pencil, and then on the computer, because he knew that’s where it was going,” Harris says. “He gave me no illusions about what was required. He was always willing to adapt.”
When his UK band imploded, Harris moved to the US where his father was living. “It was a complete collapse of everything around me,” Harris recalls. “I broke up with my girlfriend, my studio was suffering. Everything pointed toward a restart. I gather up my tools, got on a plane, slept on my sister’s couch and became a writer and a producer.”
In conjunction with hit songwriter Pam Sheyne—co-writer of “Genie in a Bottle” among many other hits for artists including Camila Cabello, Demi Lovato and The Backstreet Boys—Harris formulated “SongWriter Camps,” intensive four day/three night events at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, CA. The next Camp is scheduled for Oct. 15-18. Harris says that the two saw a gap in what was happening with artists and songwriters at other similar events.
Harris observes that oft times, essential elements are missing. “Maybe a chorus, a good concept or a great lyric idea. We saw that there was a need for a songwriting retreat type of experience to learn from experienced professionals who were still in the game, who could help to give them the tools to write better songs so that when they went to these events they could present songs that were ready.” As attendance at SongWriter Camps is limited, songwriters must present music in advance through a submission process.
With his vast studio expertise, Harris says that sometimes the lines between writing and production are often indelible. “I come from a school of crossing boundaries,” he asserts. “I’m a chameleon these days. I adapt depending on what the room is doing at the time.”
While the writers’ interaction is key, Harris believes that it must be in service to the final result. “The most important thing in the room is the song— not the people. They are all working for the benefit of the song, not for their egos and ideas. You’ve got to be able to fight for ideas, but you’ve also got to be careful not to shut people down. We all come from the same place: love for music and the desire to share emotional experiences and ideas. Music isn’t a luxury. It’s what God put us on this earth to do.”