RedOne Talks New Star-Studded Video, Career, and Why He Loves 'Despacito'
Prolific pop producer RedOne's new video is a celebration what he loves: talented artists from around the world coming together to create an uplifting song that unites everyone who hears it.
"Boom Boom" sees RedOne team up with Puerto Rican reggaeton legend Daddy Yankee, fellow Moroccan artist French Montana, and Fifth Harmony member Dinah Jane. RedOne spoke with Billboard about what went into the making of his latest single, what he wants to see come out of it, and what having such an international crew of artists on his song means to him.
Growing up in the city of Tétouan on Morocco's Mediterranean coast, RedOne was exposed to a number of different musical styles in his home growing up. His parents played instruments and sang -- spanning styles from soul and rock to flamenco and Moroccan and African music -- though never pursued careers professionally. RedOne was the youngest of their nine children, and believes that this environment fostered his creativity and gave him the desire to make music his profession: "I observed everything from everybody. That was my school... It made me who I am musically, honestly."
That absorption of all the music around him never stopped. RedOne was in his twenties and pursuing a music career in Sweden when he first heard the now-iconic French house song "Lady" by Modjo. Similar to how he reworked Kaoma's 1989 French-Brazilian hit "Lambada" for Jennifer Lopez's hit "On the Floor," he knew he wanted to do something someday with "Lady" the first time he heard it. "Boom Boom" is a realization of that dream.
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When producing for other artists, RedOne believes that without passion, good music can never come to be: "For me, energy is everything. I love when they know who they are. I’m a musician. I play instruments, I’ve done all kinds of sounds and music and styles, so I can adapt to almost every single person, musically speaking. So when they know who they are, they make my job easier. But when they don’t, I’ll always find who they can be, and how I can take them to the next level."
"Boom Boom" differs from anything RedOne has done in his career as a big-time producer in that it sees him behind the mic, rather than behind the glass: he sings the chorus of the song, flanked by verses from his co-stars. His musical career in fact began with him as a singer in a rock band; he became overwhelmed with the different styles of music he wanted to create, and figured the best way to get his music out was to work with different artists with different sounds. Despite sonically morphing countless times throughout his expansive career, however, he believes that it all comprises his diverse artistry: "I can create different songs and different styles and it’s still me; it’s a continuation of what I am."
As for how the rest of the song came together, RedOne had one thing to say: "Everything in life happens for a reason."
"French Montana was coming to my studio to hear some music, so I played him the song, and he was like “Oh, I love it! It’d be cool if we did something!” So I recorded French Montana on it, the second day he came to the studio... A few weeks later, I was with Dinah Jane from Fifth Harmony... I played her the song, and she had this chain reaction like 'Oh my God, I love it!'"
The song even got some recognition from superstar DJ Tiësto, who became charged with producing the official remix the same exact way. "I played him the song, and he was like 'Oh my god, I play that record ["Lady"] every weekend! This is so perfect because I can replace it with something fresh!'" Tiësto jumped on the opportunity to do the official remix for the song, and completed it within two days.
When racking his brain about who else would be great on the song, he decided he'd take a chance and reach out to Daddy Yankee, a "legendary" artist of whom RedOne considers himself a fan. "He’s a big fan of me too, which was perfect... So I sent him the song and he was like, 'I’m doing it. Let’s do it.'" The duo met in New York, and came up with the song's title while in the studio: RedOne told Yankee (whom he fondly refers to as "DY") that he loves when he repeats words "boom" and "bam" in songs. The rest is history.
Yankee saw the video for a previous unreleased version of the song that was filmed in Morocco, and he told RedOne his vision. "He saw the video, and he said 'Red, we need to go to Morocco. This has to be real. It has to be the streets. We gotta film in the streets of Morocco.” So we went to Morocco. It was an incredible trip. We had a lot of fun; it was four days of recording. And he loved Morocco. He was like 'Red, I need to go back here. We need to go back here and work more. It’s a very inspirational country.'"
As for what's ahead for the superstar, he hopes to continue working with different artists, and release more singles -- his voice included.
"I love songs that make people feel a great, positive energy. I’m all about that. I’m all about spreading the love and spreading great music, and the world needs that, you know? With all the craziness that’s going on, we need something. That’s why 'Despacito' worked: because it has that feeling that makes everybody want to feel good and dance and enjoy life."
Watch the video for "Boom Boom" below.
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