The Writing Camp Interview: Hitmakers, Superpowers and More
June 23, 2010 Black Talent News
We got the chance to chat with one of the music industry’s most notable writing groups, the Writing Camp (TWC), who is best known for writing the hit singles “Right Here (Departed)” By Brandy, “Halo” Beyonce, “SOS” Rihanna and many more. TWC is made up of four writers Evan “Kidd” Bog art, Erika Nuri, David “DQ” Quiñones and Greg Ogan.
BTN spoke with two of the four Campers, Bog art and Nuri, who weighed in on their favorite artists, their writing super powers and their new show “Hitmakers.” Peep our convo below:
BTN– Tell me about your new show “Hitmakers.” What role are you play ing in the show?
Evan– (laughs) Erika and I dress up like clowns, we dance around on stilts and throw darts at people, no I am kidding. Erika and I are the executive producers on the show “Hitmakers.” It’s a show with Bravo and in the crudest way it’s a cross between “Amer i can Idol” and “Project Run way,” but for song writers.
BTN– How did you break into the industry?
Erika– I broke into the industry as a writer when I was 18 years old. A guy by the name of Ian Burke heard some songs of mine, he was man aging Organize Noise at the time, and invited me to Atlanta to get in the studio
with the group. The first 6 months (of working with the group) I tried to write but nothing was good enough. But with me sit ting their and soaking up what they were doing, I kept get ting better and better and then finally I started writing for them.
Evan– I guess it depends on which part of the industry I broke into. I was born into a musical family and all I wanted to do was be in the music industry. When I was 16, I started inter viewing at Inter scope Records in the mailroom and at 19 I was the A&R for greats like Tupac and Eminem. I broke into the business side of things early on. On the writ ing part, I put together a girl group with a producer named JR. We were trying to get songs written to cover JR’s tracks but we couldn’t get any hits, so JR and his man ager pushed me towards writing the song. I wrote two songs for them and they were amazing. No one wanted to sign the girl group but every one wanted to buy my songs. The second song I wrote for them became “SOS” for Rihanna, so that was pretty much kick ing the door down
BTN– You already had successful solo careers, why did you decide to form The Writ ing Camp?
Evan– The basis of the writing camp is that we really wanted to illuminate what Barry Gordy was doing with Motown. (Gordy) took a bunch of
incredible individually successful writers, put them together and formed a family. There are other writ ing groups out there, but we wanted to do some thing a little more diverse and tackle all different genres. Each per son (in TWC) has its own super power, were like super heroes. (Laughs) I can jump over buildings and Erica can jump over walls. Every one has their own different strength and passion. We all grew up in different parts of the world and we had different upbringings. Some of us have parents who passed away, some have parents in the industry, and some have brothers and sisters who are gay; we brought our different experiences to each other. I feel like that’s what set us apart from every one else. Within the first 9 months (of TWC) we did Brandy’s first single on her last album with Rod ney (Jerkins), called “Right Here (Departed).”
BTN–What are your superpowers?
Erika– Our special ties (laughs). I would say I am really good with concept and lyrics. Evan is also great with concept and lyrics as well.
Evan– I definitely think I’m good with concept and lyrics but my biggest strength is see ing a song for what it is. I think I can see a song in its life. I know how it is going to be marketed and how people are going to be singing the song. I think we are all strong with every thing. Erika and I have a really incredible knowledge of music and the history of music. I think we have the ability to bring in some of the greats into our music.
BTN– Who was your favorite artist to work with and why?
Erika– My favorite artist to work with was Fantasia. For me she was one of the most genuine artists that I have worked with. And her talent is amazing, she is an amazing vocalist but I was really impressed with the per son that she is.
Evan– I mea sure my most favorite artist to work with by who the most fun I have with in the studio because we’ve been really for tunate to work with the top people in the game. The most fun I had in a session, and I will say because hes just like me, such a bubbly fun kid, Sean Kingston. It’s like a party every time. We want to bring out the piñatas and cakes.
BTN– What advice do you have for up and coming writers try ing to break into the industry?
Erika– My advice would be to keep writing. I think every new writer starts out and thinks that they are great. But I think new writ ers need to under stand that they need to take constructive criticism. They need to play their song to other peo ple who maybe bet ter than them or have more success than them. Let them tell you what they think is right or wrong with the song. Always go back and rewrite and revise. Every writer can get better, I can get bet ter. So I think writers need to be open to grow ing and get ting bet ter. The more they write the better they are going to get.
Evan– Study your art and study the greats. Listen to people who inspire you, who you hear on the radio, and who have inspired the writers who have songs on the radio. Go back and listen to the greats, the now and the up and com ing. Really study music and write every single day. Even if you are writing a bad song, it takes a bad song to get to the good songs. The ratio to the bad songs and the good songs get better as time goes on.