'We're writing next year's No 1s'

  • 20 May 2010
  • From the section Music
Rihanna
The 'writing camp' could produce future hits for artists like Rihanna

From the outside it looks like any white-washed office building.

Step inside though, and among the hanging wall pictures of Tinchy Stryder and The Saturdays, and a platinum disc for Lily Allen's Smile, you'll find five individual music recording studios blasting out beats.

Here, in leafy west London, the first ever Def Jam UK 'writing camp' is being held.

The American record label, started by Rick Rubin and previously run by Jay-Z, along with Canadian partners Bucks/Ole has invited British and Canadian artists into a week-long stint of writing new material for some of their artists.

The best will appear on forthcoming albums from some of the biggest stars in the world.

'Talented producers'

In one muggy room Danish poppers Alphabeat are writing a new track potentially for Justin Bieber.

In another, soul-man Lemar is working on "two or three" tracks which might end up on new albums from Rihanna or Jennifer Lopez.

Max Gousse, senior vice president of A & R for Def Jam, has flown in from Los Angeles to listen to all the demos the artists have produced and sits upstairs listening to them.

"Basically we've gathered talented producers and writers from the UK and Canada to come to London to work on various projects," he says.

"Every day I'll go room to room checking out the songs, checking out the vibe - the following day the record is complete."

Down a short flight of stairs, we find Alphabeat working on an acoustic pop track which explodes into a drum 'n' bass workout a bit like Tinie Tempah's Pass Out.

'Up Bieber's street'

"It's very intense but I think we're going to do a song by the end of the day - so it's a good day's work," says the band's song writer Anders B.

"It's very Justin Bieber-ish," he says. "You get a brief - today you could either write a song for Rihanna, Justin Bieber or some other of those massive American stars."

"I think it'll be right up Bieber's street hopefully."

Lemar
Lemar says he loves writing songs for other artists after writing for himself

Next door, tucked in a small studio, Lemar has been hard at work writing melodies since late morning.

"The day has been really good. Really productive," he says, taking a short break.

"I love writing songs. I've always wanted to write for other artists as well. I find it refreshing, I've done eight years of writing for myself.

"We've got some hot stuff down there at the moment."

On our way out we bump into Max Gousse again, who'll stay late into the evening listening to new music.

"If I love the record then I'll send it directly to the artist," he says. "It'll end up on the record if it's that great.

"I think we'll get about 40 to 50 great songs - hopefully the top five or ten end up on various projects on Def Jam."

And hopefully end up with 2011's number 1 hits?

"Absolutely," he laughs. "I heard some potentials today."