Jasper Harris is a 22-year-old classically trained pianist, composer, and music producer based in Los Angeles who recently landed a major placement on Playboi Carti’s Whole Lotta Red. He started piano lessons at age four before picking up jazz vibraphone and percussion in middle school. He initially started producing electronic music at age 14 but fell in love with hip-hop after moving to New York to study at NYU. This is where Jasper met the production duo Take a Daytrip, who helped him break into the music industry and secure his first set of placements.
He’s since produced for the likes of DaBaby, Roddy Ricch, Jack Harlow, NAV, Juice WRLD and many more. He also helped score FX’s Dave’ Lil Dicky’s semi-autobiographical comedic-drama. Most recently, he produced Playboi Carti’s standout Whole Lotta Red track “Vamp Anthem” alongside fellow producer KP Beatz.
Genius caught up with Jasper over the phone to talk about going from throwing out trash in the studio to helping produce beats, how he ended up on the Carti album three weeks before it was released, and why dropping out of school was the best decision he ever made.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Interview by shy ink
Genius: How did you first connect with Take a Daytrip?
Jasper Harris: I went to this program called Clive Davis at NYU. I met this rapper named TyBass, I sort of owe him my whole career. Daytrip would give Ty recording time in the middle of the night. I was making my earliest rap beats for Ty and they were not good. [Laughs.] I went to Daytrip’s studio a few times with Ty and I was a total fly on the wall, I didn’t say anything, just watched them record.
I was so excited about the space, so I asked them if there was anything I could do for them. They were like, “Yeah, take out our trash.” For the next week, I came every day and did chores around the studio, took out the trash, and cleaned up. But I’d always make sure I’d play my music when they were around during downtime. Eventually, they were like, “Okay, clearly you should be making music.”
The intern taking out the trash phase ended pretty quickly and the collaborative partnership started.
When you were playing music, was that you jumping on something or playing your own music?
I would play piano, play classical stuff, jazz chords, or plug into the aux and make beats or add keys to something somebody was working on, just trying to showcase what I was capable of. From there we would make beats for months. My first placement was with them on Juice WRLD’s “Rich and Blind,” from there everything snowballed.
How did that Juice record come about?
The day [XXXTentacion] passed away, Juice reached out to Daytrip and wanted to make something. I think Juice was just feeling inspired. He cut over a beat we made six months prior. Usually, songs take six months, I’ve even waited a year for a song to come out, but this one came out the next day on Soundcloud. I remember that moment so vividly, I will never forget that first song.
How did you link up with Jetsonmade and end up producing for DaBaby?
I sent a cold email to Jetson. “Suge” had come out but wasn’t front and center. A month later, I got a call and he was like, “Yo, is this Jasper? I worked on your sh-t.” I was like, “No way!” It didn’t even feel real, it felt like a prank call. [Laughs.] Then the song came about like three weeks later. I just sent him one email and he used the thing from that email.
How much did you include in that email?
I sent six ideas, and one of them became DaBaby’s “VIBEZ” and another became “Start Wit Me” by Roddy Ricch.
How did Playboi Carti’s “Vamp Anthem” come about?
A producer friend, RokOnTheTrack, he’s one of Lil Keed’s main producers, reached out to me around two and half years ago and made a little group chat of all these up-and-coming producers. Rok has always been introducing me to people, he’s like 15 but he’s been producing for Keed since he was like 13, so he’s one of these crazy kids who’s figured it out. Even more than just a producer, Rok’s a great A&R, he’s always introducing me to great new people, I trust his taste.
Rok messaged me like, “There’s this kid called KP, I think your sound would really go well together.” I reached out to KP and he was super deep into the Carti album process. We’d been exchanging ideas for a little while, but two weeks before the album [was released] I saw he was in New York. I hit him up like, “What are you doing in New York?” He was like, “I’m here with Carti.” I was like, “Okay, I’ll make something.”Even watching Anthony Fantano, he’s like, ‘This is such garbage.’ That’s so beautiful to me, there’s something magical about that.[object Object] — Jasper Harris
Up until that point, I sent him stuff I previously made. This time I thought, “Let me make something for Carti.” The first thing that came to mind was the sample [of “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor, BWV 565” by Johann Sebastian Bach]. [Carti’s] whole aesthetic is vampires, so I was like, there’s no way someone hasn’t tried this because it was so obvious to me, but I’m going to try it anyway.
Shoutout my friend Romil from Brockhampton, a few months before showed me this funny keyboard called a Korg Kross and it has all these stock orchestral sounds. I got this keyboard a few months prior and I was sifting through organ sounds. I played it and it was so perfect even though it was so goofy, I just knew I had to do it.Photo by Jasper Harris.undefinedundefinedundefinedundefined
I made that one thing that one day. I sent it through and [KP] made a version of the beat, we worked out some details, and he put this funky bounce on it. It’s not a straight beat, the drums come in at an awkward time. I think it worked out perfectly.
Most of the things I’ve placed have been happy accidents, they’re just things I made for myself. In this case, I made it specifically for him. Even though I knew it was kitschy, Carti is someone who takes risks and I thought he would probably be willing to do something like that. Also, it’s a universally recognized piece of music, even if you don’t know it’s Bach or that it’s from the 1700s, you instantly know it’s the vampire song.
Even watching Anthony Fantano, he’s like, “This is such garbage.” There’s a reaction where he starts laughing, that’s so beautiful to me, there’s something magical about that. Even though he doesn’t like it, he still knows exactly what it is. I commend Carti for taking the risk.
That’s crazy you made it two weeks before the album dropped. There was a long time between Die Litundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined and Whole Lotta Redundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined, I assumed you’d be waiting for ages for it to come out.
It’s not just him, for some of these dudes it really comes down to the 11th hour. In my experience, these artists are trying to outdo themselves, which I think is awesome, but it usually results in a lot of this music being made at the last second. It’s their freshest, most recent, best product.
He was in New York on December 2nd, that’s when I sent it. Two weeks later, they reached out to me saying it was on the album. I didn’t even believe it because you take things like that with a big grain of salt, especially with an album as anticipated as that. I literally didn’t know for sure it was on there until midnight on Christmas.
[Editor’s Note—Jasper Harris is not currently listed as a producer of “Vamp Anthem” on streaming services such as Spotify due to the last minute nature of the song. Harris told Genius he’s in the process of getting the credit fixed.]
Switching gears, how did you end up working with Lil Dicky on the musical score for FX’s DAVEundefinedundefined?
Halfway through my sophomore year at NYU, I met my now-managers, Sam and Mason. Sam and Mason are really close with Dave [Lil Dicky] and I’d be sending them beats for months for Dave. I met Dave and we started working on his album the whole summer.
At the end of the summer, I was set to go back to school but a week before Dave pulled me to the side and was like, “Yo, I’m working on this TV show and I’d really love for you to do the score.” We talked back and forth about how I can do it from school, and he was like, “I want you to finish college.” I was thinking, “I’m going to go back to college and try to do it from New York.”
But a few days before I was about to go back to my junior year, Dave literally called my family and was like, “I changed my mind, I think Jasper should stay here and do the show.” We talked to my mum for like an hour about the whole thing. A few days before I was supposed to go back to school, I decided not to.I’ll always be a composer and pianist before a producer.[object Object] — Jasper Harris
That was one of the best decisions I made because we did the score and I got to do music full time [in L.A.]. In the beginning, it was like a once in a lifetime thing, school will always be there. Now, it’s been 18 months and I’ll never go back to school. It was the best decision I made, I get to do what I love every day.
It was a great segue into scoring because it’s a hip-hop show, I already had tons of material that could work. There were a lot of moments that needed hip-hop loops and beats that I was familiar with making. But it was also a great opportunity for me to exercise my classical and compositional muscles.
I’ll always be a composer and pianist before a producer. It was really awesome to get to showcase that. There’s a piece I love that I did at the end of episode six, it’s the scene where [Lil Dicky] is on stage and it’s in slow motion, and he does this big performance where it’s playing a contemporary piano piece. So there were moments like that where I got to bring my own musical style to the table.Photo by Cole Harrisundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined
In terms of the process, were you creating music as the show was being recorded, or was it all done beforehand?
I’d say half and half. When we started the process, the first three episodes had been done. I also want to acknowledge I did the score with two other guys who are incredible amazing producers, who I admire so deeply, Henry Kwapis and Jack Karaszewski. They really brought the score to a whole other level.
We would work out of Henry’s space. The first few episodes were already done, so we got to do those while they were done. But the rest they would turn in weekly, then we’d have to turn in an episode once a week. It’s such a strict schedule, it’s super intense. Whereas hip-hop, I can wake up and do anything I want and be on my own time. TV you’re on someone else’s time.
We wouldn’t have been able to do it if Dave had not been there. Dave was there for every scoring session, every single one, he would go from editing from 7AM to 5PM and then he would hop in a car and come over to us and sit with us until midnight, one in the morning. Dave is the biggest perfectionist I know, his whole motto is “No stone unturned.” We would sit there and perfect it, 50 ideas for the same scene, it was an intense process.
You’ve worked successfully with a lot of other producers, what are some things you look for in a good collaborator?
To a lot of producers, it’s who can place this for me. That’s good in a sense, I guess, but the indication for a good collaborator to me is someone who elevates my sound. I work a lot with this producer Alex Bak, he’s like one of my partners in crime, everything he does elevates what I do. Sometimes I’ll just send him a piano idea and he’ll send it back stretched out all weird and colorful with all these textures.
I work a lot with these guys called FnZ, they’re so awesome, and their sound design is amazing. When we pair my melodic stuff with their sound design, it comes together really cool. I work a lot with this guy Jahnei Clarke, we have amazing drum chemistry, every time he finds the perfect bounce for my stuff to where I can press play for anybody and they’ll feel it. Those guys are also my friends. My best collaborators are the people I talk to everyday.