Benny Blanco, Halsey and Khalid Reveal How 'Eastside' Became a Hit

ISSUE 4 2019 - DO NOT REUSE!!!
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From left: Halsey, Blanco and Khalid at the 2018 American Music Awards.

Benny Blanco, born Benjamin Joseph Levin, has been behind the scenes crafting hits for Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez and Rihanna for the past decade. When it came time to release his debut single as a lead artist, which arrived in July 2018, he chose his collaborators carefully. The Grammy-nominated Blanco, 30, enlisted chart-toppers Khalid and Halsey for the bouncy pop hit “Eastside,” which finally broke into the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of Feb. 2. Its key players explain how the track came together. “Basically,” says Blanco, “everyone made it so fucking good.”

THE PRODUCER: BENNY BLANCO

Ed [Sheeran] and I were on tour in Philadelphia, and we began working on the demo. I remember a lady bringing us room service and screaming when she saw Ed. Fast-forward a month or so, I was with [Halsey] at my house, and I pulled up the demo. Before I knew it, it was done.”

THE ARTIST: HALSEY

“It was such a massive honor for Benny to want me involved -- he could have asked anyone to be a part of his debut. We have such a close relationship, and he has always brought really intimate parts out of me in the studio. To return the favor was unbelievable. We had no idea it would grow the way it did.”

THE PRODUCER: BENNY BLANCO

“I was listening back, thinking I always wanted to do a song with Khalid, [and] was like, ‘Why not see if this could be with both of them?’ I felt like the song would work as a duet. Khalid was in Denmark and did it from there. [Later,] Andrew Watt was over and recorded [the riff].”

THE ARTIST: KHALID

“I had to record my part separately, [but] it was so incredible to hear the completed song, and even more fun to get everyone together when we performed on the American Music Awards [in October]. It’s always exciting to see a song climb the charts, but when you have done it with friends, it’s even more special.”

THE CEO, INTERSCOPE: JOHN JANICK

“Benny always has the best ideas, and he has limitless connections that make those ideas come to life. Putting Halsey and Khalid on a track together might not have made sense to a lot of people [at first], but Benny has incredible musical intuition, and it resulted in a fantastic song that reacted [positively].”

This article originally appeared in the Feb. 16 issue of Billboard.