“I came into the music industry with a false sense of entitlement. Rather than knowing what it took to make it, I felt like I deserved it all. And I came close to demolishing my career in the process.”
Beneath the jackhammer beats and the candy-coated wizardry of modern pop music, there exists the alchemy of compelling words and undeniable music. Evan “Kidd” Bogart breathes life into the souls of songs. A roster of platinum artists including Adam Lambert, Pussycat Dolls, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Lopez, Britney Spears, Natasha Bedingfield, Jason Derülo, Ke$ha, Sean Kingston, Rihanna and Beyoncé -- whose “Halo,” co-written by Bogart and Ryan Tedder, became a Grammy-winning smash -- bears witness to the power of this authenticity.
Bogart was brought up in the business. His father, Neil Bogart, was the legendary founder of Casablanca Records and his mother, Joyce, managed the talents of superstars like KISS and Donna Summer. At 16, Bogart was interning for a record label; two years later, at Interscope Records, he was instrumental in the posthumous and rising careers of 2Pac and Eminem, respectively. “I rose quickly,” Bogart says. “Tom Whalley (Interscope president) plucked me from the mailroom. I felt like I was the shit.”
Moving into artist management, he co-founded BAT Management where he played an integral role in the signing of superstars Maroon 5 to Octone Records. With his next enterprise, Casbah Artists Management, he managed future superstar producer J.R. Rotem.
In 2004, Bogart joined Agency for the Performing Arts, representing marquee artists like OneRepublic, The Outline and Planet Asia. At this juncture, Bogart and Rotem developed a female trio, Raw Candy. While the group never achieved superstardom, one of the Bogart and Rotem-penned songs did. “S.O.S.” (Rescue Me) became a #1 hit for Rihanna in 2006. Bogart had reinvented himself as a hit songwriter.
For Bogart, who had instigated his career with ambitions of being a rapper, it was a jolt of imaginative electricity. “In A&R and management you can hopefully have a creative say. But as a booking agent it’s ‘Do we go down through Arizona or New Mexico?’ Getting sucked into the business side took its toll; this is what pushed me into creating the girl group. I needed an outlet.”
He notes that his aspirations as a songwriter appeared in sixth grade, when he would faithfully memorize lyrics to Beastie Boys songs, so that he and his friends could perform at parties and impress girls. “I had a creative jones,” he notes. “I didn’t know how to focus it, other that to pretend I was other artists. Because of hip-hop I consider myself a wordsmith. It helps me in creating a story. In pop music, there are two different kids of writers: feelers and thinkers. I come more from the thinker side because I was a rapper.”
Apart from his creative and business endeavors, those close to Bogart know him as an avid sports aficionado, a sushi connoisseur, and a sci-fi and Harry Potter fan. “As a human and as a writer, you need life experiences to write about. ‘I’m grinding, I’m hustling, nobody works harder than me.’ Why? If you get burnt out, all of your stuff sounds the same. Life is more about love, family and friends. Writing is a blessing, but what are you doing it for, if not to support the improvement of your life in other ways?”
Mentoring writers and artists through The Writing Camp, the Hollywood-based songwriting, production, publishing and music supervision collective that he co-founded, allows Bogart to revisit the soaring syths and blunt-blazed beats of the eighties and nineties: the sounds that first inspired him. “And history repeats itself,” he says. “Music comes around in circles. I love educating artists. I’ll stop a session and play them a whole album, or make them a mix CD. I get off on being a mentor. I’m a writer and a creative executive, but I like bringing my past into my world now.”
In developing songs with artists, Bogart will engage them in intimate, in depth conversations about their lives. “We spend time in vibey talking sessions. When they feel comfortable, they will begin pouring their hearts out. You have to be on the ball – to grab that nugget of magic that they say and turn it into a song; almost in the role of a psychiatrist creating musical therapy.”
As The Writing Camp evolves into a formidable brain trust, Bogart acknowledges that the successes of his songs have elevated his personal bar considerably. And while he avows that there is no formula that can guarantee a hit, he does reveal this philosophy. “The right time, the right collaborators, the right music, the right artist and a mindset. It’s really about the stars aligning, always.”
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