MEET THE EXPERIENCE
Who would you say is your biggest musical inspiration?
I’d have to go with two…Max Martin and Oasis. I remember watching a documentary on pop music where they were talking about Max Martin, and they were basically saying how he grew up studying ABBA, and then ran with it in his own way. Well, I feel like that’s what I’m doing with his music. His music is such a big part of my childhood, that it’s really shaped what I think a pop song should be…And that’s big melodies. I also love how he can make music in ANY genre. He can make a sugarcoated Britney Spears song one day, and then next day he’s busy working with Bon Jovi on a rock song, or finding Carolina Liar and producing their whole album. As far as Oasis goes, they’re such a special band in my eyes. They’ve got such incredibly beautiful melodies, but there’s so much attitude behind it that you don’t feel guilty about singing the melody. It’s an important lesson when writing. The only 2 knocks people ever have against them is 1, they’re assholes (no denying that)…and 2, they sound too much like the Beatles…well I look at it this way…since when is sounding like the Beatles a BAD thing?
Who are your favorite songwriters and producers?
First and foremost, I gotta say the whole Cheiron team from the late 90′s (Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, Rami, Denniz Pop, Andreas Carlsson). That is the sound that defined my childhood. And even as time goes on, I feel like that Cheiron sound is still the gold standard as far as pop music goes. As far as new stuff, I can’t get enough of The Smeezingtons. I knew it was a matter of time before someone would come along and fuse the sounds of new with the sounds of old…and they do it so freaking well that it’s almost unfair to the rest of us. As soon as I heard Bruno Mars’ voice on the radio, I knew the guy was gonna blow up (I really did, not just saying it now). Pop has been so thirsty for those great, almost retro soul melodies and Bruno does it better than anyone. That being said, I really hope he stays with The Smeezingtons and keeps producing as well. They’re one of the few producers out there who I truly believe “get” what good music is. Some other favorites are Mutt Lange, Rick Rubin, John Shanks, David Foster, Walter Afanasieff, Diane Warren, Bryan-Michael Cox, Dan Muckala, The Underdogs, Organized Noise, Morgan Taylor Reid, I like Timbaland’s older stuff, Jermaine Dupri’s older stuff with Mariah and Usher. I’m also a very big fan of Ryan Tedder. His production on the second OneRepublic album was incredible. I’m a big believer that if you listen to good music, you’ll make good music. If you listen to shit, you’ll make shit…
What are some new artists that you like?
I think Sam Smith is sensational. He has such an incredibly dynamic range that I’m still baffled by his talent. You would also never expect him to look like he does when you hear his voice. “Stay With Me” is just as timeless as “All of Me” by John Legend. Both are remarkable artists. I also like John Newman a lot. I dig the Motown vibe in his music, and he also has a very unique voice. It’s almost reminiscent of a bluesy rock singer combined with Michael McDonald. Lana Del Rey has a really cool, unique voice as well. I think music is finally starting to come around again with some new, fresh, young talent. There’s a new retro trend taking hold that I am thrilled about. It began with Bruno and has continued with Pharrell’s new stuff, and has really spread through all these new artists like John Newman and Sam Smith. And frankly, it’s about time! I really like The Weeknd as well. There’s something really fresh about this dark, almost alternative R&B he’s doing.
What’s one style of music people would be surprised that you like? Or don’t like?
I love gospel music, which people are shocked by since I’m a white kid raised in a Jewish family. There is just something about gospel music that touches my soul. It’s not the words, it’s definitely not the religion, but it’s the melody and emotion that just pierces through. If there is a heaven, I hope the soundtrack is some smooth gospel R&B!
What instruments do you play, and what instrument do you use to write?
I play the guitar and keyboards. I’m not superb at either, but I can play enough to write and produce something. When it comes to writing a song, I’ll usually figure out the chord progression on the guitar and then either play it on the piano or create a beat out of it using other synth sounds. I’m also a very good programmer if you’d like to consider that an instrument.
If I asked you to list your top 5 SONGWRITERS how would it look?
1. Noel Gallagher
2. Max Martin
3. Billy Joel
4. Diane Warren
5. Ryan Tedder
If I asked you to list your top 5 PRODUCERS, how would it look?
1. Max Martin
2. Mutt Lange
3. David Foster
4. Walter Afanasiif
5. Harvey Mason Jr./The Underdogs
Top 5 Bands?
1. Oasis – there’s literally not one thing that I don’t love about this band…
2. Pink Floyd – the most innovative band to ever live (including The Beatles!)
3. The Who – the very first band with enough attitude to be considered “punk music”
4. The Beatles – easily the most important band to ever live… they literally changed the WORLD!
5. Red Hot Chili Peppers – one of the most incredibly unique bands… there is NO ONE who sounds like the Chili Peppers…
Top 5 Vocalists?
1. Liam Gallagher – almost like John Lennon on steroids…the way he said the word “shine” was so unbelievably unique and distinct that Noel literally wrote that word into almost all of their songs because of that!
2. Steve Perry – while Liam’s voice is gritty and raw, Steve Perry had maybe the biggest, most majestic voice I’ve ever heard in Rock music. Simply epic…
3. Cee-Lo Green – this guy’s great. He’s like a cool blend between an R&B singer and a 70′s disco diva like Diana Ross or Aretha Franklin. Also has unbelievable personality when he sings…
4. Mariah Carey – when she used to really sing back in the 90′s, she was one of the greatest of all-time. I don’t really like her newer stuff from like 2000-on, but her voice on those songs Tommy Mattola picked out for her was pure magic.
5. Freddie Mercury – I think the thing I respect most about Freddie Mercury is that he didn’t conform to the singing style that was typically present in Rock music at the time. He infused everything from rockability to opera into Queen’s music, and he did it so fluidly that it didn’t even feel out of place…