With his arresting good looks, unapologetic cool and looking the part for a summer’s day, sporting a grey tee, shorts and sunglasses, Harvey sits down with Flavour and talks music, women, family and Alesha Dixon…
‘I don’t like hurting people,’ says former So Solid Crew frontman Harvey. ‘That’s what people don’t understand about me. I’m not this bad guy people portray me to be.’ Love him or loathe him, he’s back and with an exciting new album, featuring collaborations with the likes of Chipmunk, Wretch 32 and Gyptian.
Well, before music I was a professional footballer. I was at Chelsea for four years, but my first job in terms of getting paid was at the academy; I got took on as an apprentice and I was getting paid like £43 a week [laughs]. I thought I was rich, but obviously I was doing something that I loved so I was quite fortunate.
So Solid, so sensible
Crazy, crazy. I’ve learnt my lesson now, but I’ve blown hundreds of thousands… Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done good things with money, but obviously, naturally, you’re 19 years old and you’re getting cheques thrown at you. I remember my first deal that I signed with Universal (next door from where we are now, funnily enough) when we all signed our solo deals coming out of So Solid – it was like a quarter of a million pounds. I had never seen a cheque like that in my life, so it was crazy. But the blessing that I always take out of that is, yeah, you have your moments where you spend a lot, but luckily I was probably one of the only ones in a relationship at the time, and I was with Alesha and she’s a sensible girl so she advised me to put my money into something, so we bought a house. Luckily I had a good woman at the time, otherwise I would have just spent that shit [laughs].
First paycheck purchase
My first proper big paycheck: I bought a BMW X5, and that’s when we bought our house in Hertfordshire. It was mad just being able to go into a BMW showroom and knowing I could get any car I wanted. That was a crazy feeling and I’ll never forget: it was silver and had TVs in the headrest, tinted. I thought I was the man, and I remember Romeo ringing me, saying, ‘Yeah, I’m getting the blue one.’ You know, where you’re just talking like you’re Diddy or something [laughs]. That was us.
Biggest buys to date
Probably houses; that’s where all my money goes now – my houses, my investments, my daughter. I’m older now, so I’m a lot wiser. I live a normal life now. All my money that I’ve accumulated across my career is being held by my accountant and I just live off a wage, and that’s the only way, because if you look at some of my account statements over the years, wow, I was like, is that me? [Laughs]
What can we expect from your forthcoming album Harvey Presents… D Elite?
You know what? This album, I’m so proud of it. Every song has a structure and direction. I’ve got a song with Chipmunk on it that’s big; I got a song with Doctor. Every song is topic based; got a lot of the new school and the old-school artists featuring on the album. It’s a very good album, am proud of it.
What has been your biggest accomplishment yet?
Musically, winning a Brit award – to say that we came from a council estate in south London, to achieve that was amazing, and the record sales that we got. But my biggest achievement in my natural life would be my daughter.
What are your feelings about the Alesha chapter of your life now?
It’s gone, man. That was five years ago and it’s mad that people are still talking about it. It’s obviously a part of my life, but it’s gone now. I wish her the best because she’s a nice girl. What people don’t understand is that if we see each other, it’s respect. People must think it’s some big punch-up or something, but it’s nothing like that.
What is the biggest misconception people have about you?
There’s a lot. People think I’m a bad guy, they link me back to So Solid – they think guns, violence, a gangster. I remember one time police came to my house to arrest me over an unpaid fine, and they came with armed police. I was like, ‘Why didn’t you just call me and tell me to come down to the station [laughs]. I will pay you the five hundred pounds.’ So yeah, people believe what they get fed. Perception is not good. Yeah, I’ve made mistakes; to cheat is, of course, not a good thing, but then to be condemned with it ongoing for five years, I think, wow, these girls must really hate me; but some of the same girls who cuss you want to be with you, so it’s confusing. Make up your mind [laughs].
Let’s talk love… Is there a missus in your life at present?
Sure is. She’s an amazing, great woman. I keep it very private because this girl’s precious to me; but yeah, she’s a great woman.
Describe how you feel in one word.
Chilled. Compared to what I was, I am so calm now. I go to work and go home. I only surround myself with people who matter to me. I try to give back – I just put on an event for Daniel Degale who died of leukemia, I’m very good friends with his parents and we raised some money, so that was good. That’s what I am trying to do now: give back in ways I can and be a good father.
How has fatherhood changed you?
Massively, I got a little girl and she’s beautiful. She is my responsibility now; it’s not about me anymore.
Harvey & Mista Brown Ft Gyptian is out September 4th
Interview by Natalie Joseph