Calvin Harris has been making music since the noughties. What was his first song?
Calvin Harris released a single with a small record label in 1999, under the name Stouffer. The single contained two tracks: “Da Bongos” and “Brighter Days.” Calvin Harris’ first big-label single release was “Acceptable in the 80s,” released on March 12, 2007, from the album I Created Disco.
Keep reading to learn more about the early work of Calvin Harris.
The Early Years of Calvin Harris
Calvin Harris, whose real name is Adam Richard Wiles, was born on January 17, 1984, in Dumfries, Scotland.
He got interested in electronic music in his teens, and after earning money from stocking supermarket shelves, he bought the equipment to start recording demos in his bedroom by 1999.
Calvin managed to get two of these tracks released as a single. “Da Bongos” and “Brighter Days,” were released as a 12″ club single and a CD by a small label called Prima Facie in 2002. At that time, Calvin used a different stage name—Stouffer.
Listen to his early track “Da Bongos” below.
Still a teenager, Calvin moved to London in a bid to try and make it as a professional DJ. However, only one track was released during his stint in London: “Let Me Know,” with vocalist Ayah, which formed part of a compilation album Electric Soul, Vol. 2.
Calvin returned to his Scottish hometown but wasn’t going to give up on his dream of being a professional DJ without a fight. He started posting homemade solo recordings on MySpace and his work didn’t go unnoticed.
A representative from EMI Records heard some of the tracks and offered Calvin a record deal. He was signed in 2006.
The album reached number 8 on the mainstream charts in the UK and clinched the top spot on the Dance Albums chart. It also reached number 19 on the US Top Dance/Electronic chart.
Calvin embarked on an extensive tour but was also in demand as a remixer, mixing songs for the likes of Jamiroquai, Groove Armada, All Saints, and CSS.
He also helped to write songs for Kylie Minogue’s 2007 comeback album, and collaborated on the UK number 1 track “Dance wiv Me,” by Dizzee Rascal.
With no signs of slowing down, Calvin’s next single—“I’m Not Alone,”— belonging to his second album, debuted at number 1 upon its release in April of 2009.
The album—Ready for the Weekend, topped the charts in the UK and reached number 12 on the U.S. Dance/Electronic chart.
Calvin went on to work with more high-profile artists, including Example, Tinchy Stryder, and Rihanna—creating “We Found Love,”—a quadruple-platinum hit in the United States.
His third studio album hit the shelves in October of 2012, featuring several of the big-name collaborations he’d been working on. The album—18 Months—took the top spot in the UK and number 19 in the US. A total of 9 singles on the album graced the top 10 charts in the UK.
His next album—Motion—released in 2014 debuted at number 2 in the UK and number 5 in the US, with all three singles topping the UK chart. Reception to the album was mixed.
A critic from Billboard wrote that although the release is “packed with all-too-predictable crowd-pleasers,” it “also has a few surprises […] that suggest [Calvin is] a more dynamic producer than he lets on, one with a true appreciation of dance music’s purer forms.”
His fifth studio album—Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1—reached number 2 in both the UK and the US, and received a much warmer reception than his previous release.
Critics commended the overall vibe of the album with Clayton Purdom of The A.V. Club writing, “It’s a winning bid for artistic credibility: not going for smarter, more complex, or bigger, just better, more fun.”
He continued, “Full of island affectations, soft-rock gloss, and chintzy good-life strings, it is, at last, the sort of fun you don’t have to feel bad about the next day.”