Timbaland is taking some time off crafting chart-topping hits to groom a new generation of pop stars.
The 45-year-old songwriter-producer – whose work includes Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback, OneRepublic’s Apologize and Nelly Furtado’s Say It Right – is serving as a coach on The Pop Game, a 10-episode reality series aimed at developing the artistry of five teen singers.
“It’s about the future of music. My interest was in being a part of generations and generations to come in terms of music,” Timbaland says.
One of these five aspiring singers – Ashlund Jade, 13, Cravetay, 16, Grant Landis, 17, Ian Grey, 15, Madysyn Rose, 15 – will walk away with a recording contract with Timbaland’s label, Mosley Music Group.
Besides The Pop Game, Timbaland recently released a country song with Brad Paisley called Grey Goose Chase. This was rather an unexpected move for him.
“I’ve always wanted to do country, I love country. It was something that I wanted to experience and Brad reached out and we made it happen,” he shares.
Meanwhile, earlier this year, Timbaland worked with Chinese singer Jane Zhang on her single Dust My Shoulders Off. Asked if the experience was any different from his usual projects in the United States, he responds: “There’s no different experience. Music is music. It’s about getting a great sound.
“Working with artistes everywhere is almost the same because music is the same – it’s all about (evoking) a great feeling.”
1. Some of the contestants on the show have big social media followings. How important is having a strong social media presence to you?
I believe if you’ve got great music, people want to know who you are and engage with you. You have social media and then you have media, and music has always been (the media part of it). The social part comes in … because of the music. People will go, “Who is that?”
I believe social media (should go hand in hand) with the product (in this case, music). Without great product, there is no social media.
2. What advice did you give the contestants? And what did you learn from them?
When you watch the show, you’ll understand that we learn from each other. Music is a feeling and it doesn’t have an age.
I learnt to always keep evolving, to never be stagnant in one place. The contestants are always ready for change, they accept change.
3. There’s a songwriting challenge in an episode of The Pop Game. Having written many hits yourself, what do you think makes a great pop song?
What makes a great pop song is if it sticks with you. It has a melody that’s strong, that makes you constantly want to sing it.
When you hear a particular pop song at a party and it gives you the same feeling when you first heard it – that’s what makes a great pop song. But you won’t know that until over time.
4. What do you do when you’re experiencing writer’s block? Where do you find inspiration?
You just take a day off, just breathe and relax and then come back to it.
(Overcoming) writer’s block is just about finding your space, your energy, keeping your aura clean and not putting too much pressure on yourself. Just find time for yourself to relax and come back to the music, it’s always going to be there.
5. A lot of your work as a producer has to do with making tough decisions. Have you had moments where you passed on a song and you regretted it?
I don’t really regret anything. For the most part, I just take my time with everything. I don’t just want to make a hit. I want to touch souls, touch people. A hit comes and goes. When you take time with making a record, it stays around.
The Pop Game airs every Tuesday at 9pm on Lifetime (Astro Ch 709).