So how did this whole interest in music begin?
I started playing instruments in my parents’ house in St Louis. My mother was a singer and my dad was a musician who had a major influence on me. I used to go to the studio with him and watch the whole recording and mixing process. I started recording when I was 18 years old; I used ASR drum pad and Dr Rhythm to record my first production. I wanted to become like Quincy Jones, but I have never thought that I would get to actually live it.
How does it feel to be hailed “most valuable young musician” in the US, and indeed are you surprised by the clamour for your work?
It’s an honour; the journey that I am taking is a blessing. I am surprised by the clamour, because it started with me having a passion for music and I never really thought it would get me to this point.
Which producers inspire you?
I would say Rodney Jerkins and Pharrell. Both of very talented and they are awesome guys. But Rodney was the one who actually took time to sit down with me and talk. He was like my teacher and believed in my sound and me evolving as a producer. I have a lot of respect for him.
How do you go about your creative process from an idea to track mixed and mastered?
I just start playing instruments. I can start with acoustic guitar, drums or bass guitar, it can be any instrument. It is a free flow for me. I can make a beat from 30 minutes to one hour, then I show it to a songwriter, we record a demo and then we think about an artist it can fit. I believe music made from real instruments is timeless. I am trying to make music that will be timeless.
Which musical genres inspire your work?
I would say country, pop and rock. But I listen to everything; I keep my ears to the radio, Internet and Billboard. The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary. So I spend each day working harder than the day before.
What does an average work day consist of for you?
I usually have business meetings during the first half of the day. Then I go to the studio around 5-6pm and work there till 5am. Usually I have work going on with artists, but when I am all by myself in the studio, I just spend time writing music.
Who would you love to work with?
I would love to work with artists like Madonna. Working with artists like Madonna would be challenging and it would get out the best of me and push me hard.
So you were on your UK recording tour – how good is the man Daley and what kind of vibe were you going for?
Daley is a very talented artist; he can sing his butt off. He has a very rich voice, that you would not even expect to come out from this young guy`s mouth. He has Maxwell and Robin Thicke mix. We made rhythmic tracks, that make you want to dance and relax at the same time. It is feel-good music and it is timeless. I see Daley going really far in music industry and breaking into the US market. His music is commercial and soulful at the same time, he is very unique and I think people are going to love him.
You’re also working with JLS – what are you looking to do with these guys?
I will take them to old Backstreet Boys and N’Sync with a new twist, straight pop, dance music.
And who will we see you working with in 2011?
Claude Kelly, and I wrote a song for Beyoncé for her new album while both of us were in London, so I am looking forward to finishing this song with Beyoncé. I will also be working with Tiffany Dunn for her debut album on Epic Records. But speaking about UK artists I will be working with Domino Go!, Jessie J, and JLS again, and I will catch up with Leona Lewis, so things are good.
Interview by Semper Azeez-Harris