Sunday, December 06, 2009

INTERVIEW: Jadion / Simon Curtis's 'Heart' on a Sleeve (Part 1)

It's been a long time coming but the time is finally here. (Because he wants to torture us) Simon Curtis is gearing up for the web/Twitter release of his collective 8 Bit Heart by releasing one amazing track at a time. First was the epic synth-pop kissoff to haters "Delusional" (that was so good, it was hard to imagine an album's worth of this caliber tunes!), and now, he's dropped the sassy, firey "Diablo", which pokes fun at elements of tunes by Kelly Clarkson ("Since U Been Gone") and Britney Spears ("If U Seek Amy"). Both tracks are ridiciously catchy, and only get more incredible the more you listen to them. It's fair to assume that these tracks will be exciting indicators of how strong an album 8 Bit Heart is going to be, and the wait is positively killing me!

[Mel's Note: Can I just say, if Simon, V Factory, Travis Garland and Darin got together and formed a supergroup, I would not only die, I would die happy. That is all.]

The buzz is spreading at a rapid rate (Hi, Paul! ::waves::), and tongues seem to be wagging with the comparison of Simon being the male Lady Gaga. The comparison is fair in my eyes: both of them are pushing boundaries with guiltless-pleasure pop, and both rose up from the underground while the world slept. (Blogroll Friends: I implore you, check Simon out -- assuming you haven't already and if so, you are so late on your homework! -- and give him a chance. His success is far overdue, and I know you all wanna be ahead of the curve for the next big thing. Trust me on this -- Simon is it.)

I first heard Simon's name and music thanks to his semi-exclusive producer Jadion, back in late 2006/early 2007 with a little song called "Resist" and became instantly hooked on not only Simon, but the Jadion "sound" -- it was purely reminiscent of the 90's pop that was so overwhemlingly part of my life, mixed with something else that felt very now. At the time, Jadion was also working with a fresh faced group of girls called Bliss, now known as the recently seperated Candy Coated Chaos. However, it became very apparant that Jadion's brilliance in production was quite like the yin to Simon's songwriting yang -- they are like RedOne and Lady Gaga, Darkchild and Brandy, Timbaland and Justin Timberlake. They are friends, and they get each other musically.

You can thank Jadion for the production of much of Simon and CCC's best material; his ear for a catchy hook is downright obvious. I was able to ask him a few questions about the business, Simon's upcoming album, and his time well-spent with Candy Coated Chaos.

When do you first discover your love for music?
Well, I guess as long as I can remember. My stepdad was in a band when I was like 4 and that was the first time I ever took the stage and sang the song "Barracuda" by Heart between sets. I have always loved music!

What was the first project you produced?
Oh wow... that depends on what you considered "produced" haha. I'll put it like this, the first job I was ever paid to produce was about 7 years ago with a guy named Joe Collonino. He was a 40 something petroleum engineer who wanted to do a jazz album with a spiritual theme. I dug it out a while back and laughed quite hard. I did such a bad job, but he was very appreciative. Very nice guy and very encouraging person. Sorry, I sucked back then Joe.

You are most noted for your solid collaborations with Simon Curtis. How did you come to work with him?
I had some business partners (a whole other story) and actually thanks to some encouragement from good people like the aforementioned Joe, I left that situation to open my studio when I lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In desperate need of new clients, I heard of a Britney Spears singing contest sponsored by Samsung and held at Best Buy. I went there to hand out some business cards. When I heard Simon, he was only 16 at the time, and I thought he had a great voice so I approached him and gave him my info. He halfway blew me off because after all, it was TULSA, and he had dreams of Max Martin! He went on to win that contest and actually finished top 10 in the country for it. So a month or so later, he called me. We met and shared our visions and found we were exactly what we had been looking for respectively. The rest is history... a long, slow history, but a very educational and ultimately good one!

You're the main producer on his upcoming album, '8 Bit Heart'. Do you have a favorite song on the album?
I produced every song on the album with a great deal of assistance with Simon with the exception of "Delusional" which was co-produced with Roy Hamilton Jr (Britney's "I Got That Boom Boom"). I am STILL in the process of mixing this album, so I can't really say what my favorite song of all is, but so far I am really liking "Beat Drop."

What is the production process like with Simon? Does he come to you with finished lyrics and you supply the background?
The first album, Alter Boy, was basically me making tracks and Simon writing to them. This album we sat down together and I made each track with Simon right next to me creating a sound that was a really great mix of his sound and mine. Then he wrote to the finished tracks. We did the entire album in 13 days START to FINISH from scratch.

Is there any hope that 'Alter Boy', Simon's initial debut collection, will see release as well? Do you have a favorite song off of that project?
I think that album is kind of history. It is a growth record as far as I am concerned now. We have both improved so much and it will show in the new album. I love "Resist" and "Casual Encounter" from Alter Boy though.

I obviously came to know and appreciate your music thanks to Candy Coated Chaos. Do you have a favorite song you produced for them? Probably "Let You Be You" and "Promise" and "Utopia".

Do you have any memorable stories to tell from being in the studio with cCc? When we were in LA recording "Utopia" at Will Smith's Boom Boom Room studio, Brandy was there recording also. Roy Hamilton was co producing that with me and he also worked with Brandy. So she came over and listened to "Utopia" after we finished recording it and was totally jammin out with us. It was a great night.

You also served as a manager for Candy Coated Chaos. Do you have any plans to manage more artists in the future?
I don't know honestly. I would never manage a group again (laughs). It is 30% business and contacts, 10% communication skills with those contacts, and 60% psychologist and motivational speaker. If it were the right situation, possibly. But my place is in the studio.

Are you still in regular contact with any of the former members of cCc, and would you produce for any of them in the future? I actually have a recording session with Rochella Danishei in a couple of weeks.

[Mel's Note: The two were in the studio this past weekend. Can't wait to hear the results!]

What do you feel has been the highest moment in your career so far as a producer and a manager?
Hearing CCC on MTV's "The Hills" and the intro to the first 6 episodes of "The City" was pretty cool.

The music industry is starting to truly recognize and associate songs with their producer with the rising success of producers like RedOne and Dr Luke, as well as established talent like Timbaland. Do you have a 'signature' sound sample in your songs, and do you feel that is necessary?
Well, Red and Luke are far from newcomers. Luke has worked with the Cheiron team (Max Martin, Kristian Lundin, etc) for MANY years. Pure genius. It is VERY hard for me to say what my signature sound is, but I often hear I have one (laughs). You would need to ask Simon about that. I can recognize several producers' songs by the sound of it and that is a good thing. In the pop game, the producer is JUST AS IMPORTANT as the artist. I do however think it is very tacky for a producer to say his name in a song. I mean, if you have a good sound, the people who know, will know who you are. I know what JR Rotem's tracks sound like ;)

What is the biggest problem in the music industry currently that needs immediate fixing, in your opinion? Those who know me know I am VERY opinionated... so you are gonna get me in trouble here (laughs). Over the last 3-4 years I'd have to say the flood of talentless rappers who have purchased their way onto radio with money they got from less than honest means. Why do they give multi million dollar contracts to people who openly brag about achieving their success via drug dealing, then wonder why they end up in jail or dead? They have been rewarding the worst in our business with the best of their rescources while alienating the truly talented for far too long. HOWEVER, that being said, I do believe the tide is turning. Record companies have been losing money like crazy the last several years. It appears as though a few people have realized that talent is important... I give you Lady Gaga. Even the AMAs this year had LIVE singing, even JANET sang! Albeit she lip synched to a live recording, but that is a far cry from the days of old when she didn't even sing it at all! TALENT IS MAKING A COMEBACK, and so is pop music. And I hope I am on this ride at the right time. The people I work with are good people and deserve their shot. And because of their hard work, honesty and integrity, they are on their way to getting it. To all aspiring artists, I appeal to you... do right by people.

Besides Simon, are there any other production/writing projects in the works you can share?
I am working with some writers on a few songs to pitch to major artists, and as I said, I am working with Rochella Danishei as well as Monti Montanez formerly of Menudo. I think that will likely be expanding in the near future as we release 8 Bit Heart. Thank you for supporting us all this time, it means a great deal to us all.

Mel's Note: Thanks so much, Jadion, for taking the time out to answer my questions -- words can't express how excited I am for your upcoming projects. Every track that came from your camp, be it from Simon or CCC, I adored from the minute I first heard it and only good things come to those with true talent and drive.

For more on Jadion, visit his MySpace (where you can hear clips of CCC songs, as well as one of the tracks with Monti Montanez he was talking of above -- per usual, it's good stuff!), or follow him on Twitter. And while you're at it, if you haven't already followed Simon on Twitter. The faster he gains followers, the less time we have to wait for 8 Bit Heart!


Myfizzypop said...

brilliant interview - nice to get an insight into some of the behind the scenes stuff! I'm sort of sad to hear that Alter Boy isn't really going to happen - SO many great songs on that, hopefully it will be released as a "lost album" someday after 8 Bit Heart makes it massive.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that Simon releases some of the Alter Boy tracks, that album was amazing and she not be left on the cutting room floor just because a new album was made. 8 Bit Heart is excellent, but Alter Bo set the stage for it.

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