Ron Perry brought me in to work on “Perfect Places.” He has a company called SONGS Music Publishing, which I’m signed to. I’ve met Ella (Lorde) in the past and talked a little bit about music, even actually over Twitter. But it was Ron who got me involved.
What’s the story behind “Perfect Places”?
Jack and Ella had written the whole song already. When it came to me, Ron was just like, “Hey, do you want to do your thing on this?” He had a sense that maybe what I would add would be quality. What they sent me was an early version of the production, maybe a writing demo. I worked on it and sent it back. Some songs you don’t want to over polish. But for this song, I wasn’t afraid to add quite a bit of sheen because the song itself has a lot of depth and soul to it. Sometimes when you have a track that’s a little bit shallower, it doesn’t need as much shining and polishing up. “Perfect Places” is such a good song that you can kind of throw in everything and the kitchen sink on the production and it wouldn’t end up sounding overproduced. The song itself kind of grounded it.
Did you work directly with Lorde?
No, she was back and forth between Los Angeles and New Zealand and I was in New York for most of it.
You’re used to working behind the scenes on a variety of very high profile projects like Melodrama or the Liam Gallagher stuff. What’s that like? Are you sworn to secrecy beforehand?
Well, until things are out you never want to tell anybody you’re working on anything because there’s always a chance that it’s not gonna come out. I don’t usually run around and tell people that I’m doing a project until I’m absolutely sure it’s being mastered and sent to radio stations. I try to just not reveal anything before it’s done. It’s a very dynamic business, especially now.
Let’s say you think of an idea, melody, concept, whatever. How do you know what project it would be for, whether for Miike Snow, Lorde, Liam, or LIV (your project with Lykke Li)?
That’s an interesting question because I have never been the kind of writer who can pitch a song for an artist. It just has never worked for me. What usually happens is that I’m friends with the person or they’ll ask me to come in and I get a sense of them and we have some kind of rapport. And then when I’m going about my day elsewhere, something will jump to mind and I’ll think, “Oh, that’s a great chord progression for Florence (and the Machine), or this is a great song for Liam (Gallagher).” Whatever melody or thoughts come into my mind I’m always thinking about who it’d work with. You need that rapport with an artist though, because there’s so much you can pick up from meeting a person and hanging out with them a little while that you can’t get otherwise... at least I can’t. There are other people who are great at that, going in and saying, “Oh, I’m going to make a song for Beyonce” and write it and it all works.
Liam Gallagher’s record is coming out in the fall and I know you worked a lot on it. What can we expect?
The lead single, “Wall of Glass” which I wrote with Liam and Greg Kurstin, is already out and I think it’s doing pretty well in the UK, which I’m excited about. I’m really excited about the record; there’s a lot of good songs on there. Some songs I wrote, some I wrote and produced, some I co-wrote, and a bunch of them are from a writer signed to my publishing company who’d sent me some ideas that I turned into some songs.
Speaking of Greg Kurstin, I understand you guys go way back. You grew up together?
In college, he was a junior and I was a freshman. I’ve always looked up to him and I’m still looking up to him. We always talked about doing stuff. The Liam thing was a perfect place, if you will, for us to get together and work on some music. There’s a vocabulary we have in common. When you’ve known somebody that long and have been playing music with somebody for that long, there’s certain things you can’t rewrite in your musical DNA and I think a lot of those come from your early musical experience and we shared a lot of those together, so I think that helps us work well together. Also he’s just the greatest guy and has always been an inspiration to me.
What's the status of Miike Snow? You guys had an album last year, when’s the next one coming out?
We have music we’re finishing right now, so we can start putting out songs at any time. Any day now!