Always be different; don’t follow the rules. Don’t do what anyone tells you. Don’t use the same sounds as people; don’t use the same drums as people.
Sometimes you’re gonna write a song and it’s not gonna be right from the beginning. And you’re just gonna have to work through that wall. But if you know something is there, you’ve gotta just keep doing it until you get it right. So, I’ll work on a song for three months if I have to, to get it right.
Most of the time when people work with an artist, they don’t give them what they need for the future, they give them what their last album sounded like. So it’s like, ‘Oh, One Republic needs a song, why don’t we send them 10 that sound like ‘Apologize?’
I actually believe that you should not wash your jeans, ever. In Japan, they actually put them in the freezer. That kills the bacteria and makes them not smell anymore.
I think somewhere along the way I realized, ‘O.K., no one’s gonna care about a chubby Jewish dude rapping.’ I realized I’d be better behind the scenes.
I try to listen to over a hundred different songs a day. I listen to every single thing. If you’re just listening to pop music, you’re just gonna make pop music. I listen to Adele, Yo Yo Ma, Gucci Mane.
Basically, any time you have a real life experience, that can be a song. Because no matter how crazy or weird you are, somebody’s had an experience just like you, somewhere.
I’m not particularly good at anything. I’m not an incredible guitarist or piano player or songwriter. I think what I do is, when I notice someone is really good at something, I try to get that out of them.
I can be at my house sitting there making music alone, and every single time I’ve ever done that the first thing I do when I’m done, no matter if it’s 4 in the morning… I literally just pick up my phone and I call someone.
Is it easy for me to write from a female point of view? Yeah, I am a female. I’m a very sensitive type of guy. I try to put my female hat on and think how a female would think. If I’m watching ‘The Notebook,’ I’m definitely gonna cry. I cried during ‘E.T.’ too.
I don’t listen to the radio, cause I don’t have a driver’s license. But if I’m in L.A. or somewhere where we have to rent a car, I’ll hear my songs. Sometimes I hear them when I’m in stores, and I’m still like a little kid in a candy shop: ‘Oh my God, that’s my song!’ I don’t know how that could ever get old.
Here’s the thing… when people start making music, they start borrowing styles from other people, because that’s what you do. You start by recreating hip-hop beats you’ve heard from other people, or you start mimicking other people, or you’re just listening to stuff.
Everything needs to be catchy because a listener is either going to stay with the song or lose interest in the first five seconds. But people also like those songs they can relate to and say, ‘Yeah, I went through that.’
Ke$ha is her art; there is no curtain you peel back to find the real person. And with Ke$ha, you never know what to expect when you’re in the studio.
I’m not a huge L.A. fan, but I go there for the winter every year. We usually rent a house and have massive house parties.
Let’s face it, I’m not winning a fight with anybody – unless it’s against someone like Larry David.
My studio’s always in my house. I want to wake up and be like, ‘You know I’m gonna make music today in my underwear. You know what, I’m gonna be in my pajamas. You know what, I’m actually just gonna stay inside for the next three days so I can make music.’
When you’re like, ‘Yo, we gotta write a hit song, we need a hit song right now,’ that never works. Every time that happens, I never write a hit song.
I might be eating something, and the bag opens in a cool way, and I’m like, ‘I wanna put that in the song.’
I am still waiting for the day that they say, ‘Time’s up, Blanco. Back to your shift at Walmart.’
I just want to sound different than everyone else. I don’t care if it sounds bad. I just want people to be like, ‘Yo, that dude Benny was different.’ Even if it sounds awful, at least they can’t say, ‘Oh well, I’ve heard that before.’
Pop songs are like a D.J. set crammed into three minutes.
I don’t want to make music alone in a dark studio and make me feel awful and depressed. I want to make music and feel happy and get to share it with people.
I’m not deciding what the artist is going to write about because it’s the artist. They’re gonna have to sing that song for the rest of their life. When they’re old and they’re 80 and they have their show in Vegas, they’re gonna have to sing that song for the rest of their life.
When you’re making music, it’s meant to be shared with people. Sometimes, even if I’m writing a song, someone else brings a vibe. There’s something different about it. If someone can play a better bassline than me, I’ll let them do it. I’m just here to fit in and see where it goes.
I used to cold call labels and pretend I was one of their artist’s attorneys. I’d say, ‘This is Jay-Z’s attorney, we need to speak with Craig Kallman,’ you know, owner of Atlantic, and they’d say, ‘Right away,’ and then I’d be like, ‘Please just listen to my demo tape!’
In hip hop, it’s a lot more about lacing a hot track. I start it, I help mix it, I help write it, I help produce it, I cut the person’s vocals. I’m involved from the beginning to the end of a song. I’m not just giving someone a beat, you know?
I let the song come to me. Then that thing comes to you, and you just know what that thing is. Music isn’t like a 9-to-5 job. You never know. It’s just the most unpredictable thing.
I always have a ping-pong table in the studio. If you’re with an artist and you notice the situation is going south a little bit, it’s like, ‘You wanna play ping-pong or foosball?’ Or, ‘You wanna go grab somethin’ to eat?’ And then you just like talk to them and relax them and get them comfortable and get yourself comfortable.
I used to link up boom boxes, record one take, play it into another boom box then play all that back into the other one until I had six tracks. It was unlistenable!