When you hear Diane Warren talk about her life and career with an unwavering self-assuredness, you start to understand how she's been successful in a career like songwriting for so long. In the same way that she just knows, for example, that her pet cat named Rabbit is the reincarnated version of her old cat, Mouse -- "She waits for me by the shower, she licks the water off my feet like Mouse; It's not a coincidence," Warren says -- she just knows how to write a damn good song. Having penned hits for everyone from Lady Gaga to Aerosmith to Beyoncé to Celine Dion, sometimes she even knows when a song is good before the artist does (Cher, for instance, originally disliked "If I Could Turn Back Time," which became a No. 3 Hot 100 hit for her). "I just want to go, 'trust me, f-ck. I know what I'm talking about,'" she laughs.
After more than three decades of writing music for other people, Warren decided it was about time she make a project under her own name. Enter Diane Warren: The Cave Sessions Vol. 1, her debut album released Aug. 27 and comprised of 15 original tracks performed by the likes of John Legend, G-Eazy, Santana, Ty Dolla $ign, Maren Morris, Rita Ora and many more. She sees the record as leveling up her status from songwriter to DJ -- no, not the kind that spins turntables in nightclubs, though she would like to get a huge gold chain. "Don't think I won't," she jokes. Instead, the new album is an experiment in doing what artists like David Guetta or Calvin Harris do, crafting songs under their own names with featured artists performing them, just with emotional power ballads instead of EDM ragers. "It's me being DJ Diane, doing what DJ Khaled does without yelling my name at the beginning of the record," she says. "I just thought, why the f-ck can't I do that too? Why can't I do the songwriter version of that?"
It's a new approach to her craft, but not much has really changed. She's still creating songs and recruiting superstar musicians to sing them, always striving to make the best music possible and never running out of ideas -- in fact, she wrote more songs than her label would allow on Cave Sessions Vol. 1, so definitely expect a Vol. 2 in the future. What's different now is that she gets to be the star of the show instead of remaining backstage, where she's comfortably been for her entire career. She even made her very first music video appearance for the "Seaside" video, starring Rita Ora, Sofia Reyes and Reik, playing the part of bartender. "I'm not used to having my name on something," she says. "I keep forgetting that this is my record."