The best advice George Harrison gave his son was "Keep your head down. There's enough trouble that will find you without having to go looking for it," the 39-year-old multi-instrumentalist and film composer says in a phone interview. Dhani Harrison has inherited his dad's predilection for operating quietly and deflecting attention—as much as a musician in earth's most popular rock band could do so.
Notably, Harrison the younger is not trying to follow in the footsteps of his world-famous father. That would be a fool's errand, as Julian Lennon could tell you. Instead, Harrison is forging a distinctly 21st-century path toward a rewarding middle ground between electronic music and rock.
Harrison had his young mind blown at an early age, thanks to George's involvement with Indian sitar master Ravi Shankar. At age 12, Dhani witnessed several four-hour concerts by Shankar, flautist Hariprasad Chaurasia, and santoor player Shivkumar Sharma, which introduced him to music's mystical powers. Though he tried to diverge from his father's career path by studying design and physics at Brown University, Harrison ultimately couldn't resist the lure of music—and film. He's enjoyed a busy career as a soundtracker for such movies as Beautiful Creatures and Seattle Road, television shows like Jamie Foxx's forthcoming White Famous, and a documentary about pop artist Shepard Fairey.
Harrison's debut full-length, IN///PARALLEL, grew out of his work on Seattle Road, whose director Ryan David gave him carte blanche to indulge his strangest ideas—what he calls "really trippy meltdown dream sequences." The album privileges eerie, desolate atmospheres over rock pyrotechnics, rhythms more commonly found in triphop than in rock, and murky, swirling melodies that align more with Nine Inch Nails or mid-1970s Pink Floyd than with the Fab Four. It's a solid collection of queasily beautiful, midnight-blue meditations awash in existential questioning and questing that has as much commercial potential as "Blue Jay Way" (an underrated Beatles deep cut by George Harrison).
Actually, Dhani Harrison's favorite song by his old man is "Run of the Mill," from the classic LP All Things Must Pass. He says the first line, "Everyone has choice when to or not to raise their voices," resonates with him. "The message of that song is so important... especially now. It's a spiritual song about getting enlightened."
IN///PARALLEL reflects Harrison's sense that we're living in a topsy-turvy version of the world. "I felt like we're running in parallel to what I'd imagined 2017 to be." Humans have always been doing insane shit, he notes, but now we know more about it. Yet he's no pessimist. "This is probably the safest the world's ever been, even though it seems to be the most deadly." He laments that "people are being controlled by fear."
Living in Los Angeles, Harrison hails its consciousness movement (meditation, yoga, vegetarianism, etc.) as a way to improve life. Though his cheese obsession negates veganism, Harrison—who was raised vegetarian but strayed into meat eating for a while—says he feels too much compassion for animals to consume them. He didn't want "to eat their fear anymore."
The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, in more ways than one.