Charlie Puth Recalls Recording With Selena Gomez in a Closet, Liam Payne's Weird Studio Habits & More Duet Details
"Attention" singer also shares stories behind working with Maroon 5 & G-Eazy.
For a guy who only has one album to his name, Charlie Puth already has quite the impressive array of collaborations in his catalog. Selena Gomez, Meghan Trainor and Wiz Khalifa have sung on tracks with the "One Call Away" singer, to name a few.
And when you go outside his own discography, Puth's list of team-ups just adds to the accolades: He co-wrote Liam Payne's catchy "Bedroom Floor," worked with Maroon 5 on their latest album Red Pill Blues ("Lips On You") and co-wrote G-Eazy's dark The Beautiful & Damned track, "Sober."
Coinciding with his love of collaboration, Puth recently took part in the latest "Sing With LG" contest, in which fans could duet with the singer on his 2017 smash hit "Attention" in hopes of winning a chance to hang out with Puth himself. The contest winner has already been announced, but ahead of the big reveal, Billboard caught up with Puth to hear more about his star-studded features.
"All of these collaborations kind of came out in an unorthodox way," Puth tells Billboard of his work with other artists. "I feel like in the '90s all the managers would call the other managers, and everyone would get together and there would be bottles of champagne and luxurious studios."
Although the collaboration settings may not have been as grand as Puth envisioned, his team-ups certainly have fun stories behind them. Check out edited transcripts of what Puth had to share below.
Selena Gomez, "We Don't Talk Anymore"
Taylor Swift introduced us at this VMA afterparty a while back. I think I even was like, “We should do something sometime.” I say that to every artist I meet, because I just can’t believe I'm in this position where people want to work with me. But I didn’t actually think it was gonna happen.
I think four months went by, and it happened -- but in a very strange way. I had sent the demo of “We Don’t Talk Anymore,” where it was originally all me, and I played it for her over FaceTime -- I was in the Philippines. She was like, “I love this,” and it hit me. I was like, "This could be a duet." Everybody has experience with the sentiment of the song meaning, I think. I certainly have, she has, so it just felt very real when she performed it.
Selena was in Vegas. She flew herself to my house I was renting at the time in the Hollywood Hills. She came over at like 2 o’clock in the morning and recorded this part in a makeshift recording booth in the closet. It was very, very not glamorous. I had to go to London the next day -- I was kind of hungover, I just came from a party. But I had to get the vocals all done. So it was quite challenging to just push through it at 5 o’clock in the morning. But when I listened to it when I woke up the next day, it was all worth it, 'cause she sounded great.
Liam Payne, "Bedroom Floor"
That was the most fun I had ever had, writing that record. It was with Little Aaron [Aaron Jennings], Noell [Zancanella], J Kash [Jacob Kashner] and Ammar Malik -- really, really talented writers. And we were all at Conway, which is a really nice recording studio. And we were all just messing around; nothing was really coming when we were writing.
I just pictured what a leprechaun would sing, because I think there were Lucky Charms in the room or I had had them for breakfast. Like, what would a leprechaun melody be? [Sings “Bedroom Floor” hook.] And Noel, who works with Ryan Tedder and OneRepublic, had this cool sound like “boom boom boom” and I was thinking, “Oh, it could be like a dance record or something like that." And out of nowhere, that melody, that joke melody I had, fit perfectly on to one of the dancey chords. The song originally started [with] two parts and we flipped the two parts and “then it was over,” and we were like, “Oh it’s so great! Your clothes are talking!” We were dancing around, such a fun songwriting session.
I think some time went by, like six months, and I played it for Liam when he was in the studio. And fun fact, he has no air conditioning in the studio. He keeps it at about 80 degrees. He drinks warm milk, I think smokes a bunch of cigarettes, and sings the song perfectly. I don’t really understand how that’s possible. I mean, it works for him. I don’t know if I would be able to pull that off -- I go to bed at like, 9 p.m. every night.
Maroon 5, "Lips On You"
I was gonna keep that under wraps. I like to see people react to the music, and sometimes if my name’s attached to it, they feel like they feel have to feel a certain way. Like, “Oh, Charlie Puth, I hate that song.” Or, “Charlie Puth? I love that song!” I just want the people to hear the song and hear the reaction from it. But it leaked that I wrote on the album, which is totally cool. I wrote that song with Kash and Julia Michaels, and Jason Evigan helped me finish the production on it. Really, really good stuff. I love that song. I was thinking of a Chris Isaak vibe.
That was one of the first times I met Adam [Levine] too. Him and I are like, buddy-buddy now, but that was like a week of knowing each other, so it was still very… you know, when you know you’re going to be friends with somebody, but you’re very careful with what you say around them? I was like, “Adam... maybe you want to re-sing that one part... if you want to?” Now I’d be like, “F--- you, that was horrible! You’re the worst singer ever!”
I wrote that song back in 2015 with Breyan Issac and Ester Dean. It was kind of this dark point in my life. It wasn’t the best month for me, without getting into detail. And of course, I had someone in mind when I wrote it.
You never know where these songs are gonna go. I had originally written verses, like sing-y verses, and it just didn't feel right. It felt like it needed an Eminem type story. When I heard G’s verses on it, they just happened to be something similar to what I went through. There is no other person who could have done it better than G. I love G. Young Gerald, Eazy season. He’s my tallest friend. [Laughs]