Meet Lady Gaga's Secret Weapon For The Music Behind 'A Star Is Born'

Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP
Lady Gaga arrives at the Los Angeles premiere of "A Star Is Born" on Sept. 24, 2018 at the Shrine Auditorium. 

For Paul Blair, better known as DJ White Shadow, the songwriting process for the Bradley Cooper-directed, Lady Gaga-starring movie musical A Star Is Born, out Oct. 5, was a “family affair.” “You know that video of the 7-year-old kid who stole his grandma’s car and was like, ‘I wanted to do hoodrat stuff with my friends?’” he says. “That’s how I feel about all of this.”

Blair, 40, who has six co-writing credits on the remake’s soundtrack, has been Gaga’s right-hand man since 2011. He produced nine songs on Born This Way, including the title track and “The Edge of Glory,” and worked with the singer on her 2013 album, Artpop, and 2017 single “The Cure.” Blair says he can’t recall when exactly his work with Gaga on A Star Is Born started, given the fluidity of his collaborative work with her. “You’re bouncing off of each other -- just, ‘Here’s what we got, let’s work on more shit,’” he says. “As the movie developed and the script got honed in, you have better ideas and build stuff more concisely. It wasn't like, ‘Gentlemen, start your engines!’”

The film, adapted for the screen three times before, is already generating Academy Award buzz for Gaga, who plays an aspiring singer named Ally who is stuck in a thankless job. When she’s serendipitously discovered by rock star Jackson Maine (Cooper) while performing at a drag bar, she adopts her mononymous pop persona, for whom Blair co-wrote the songs. Gaga mined her own career trajectory -- she was discovered at a burlesque show -- for her character’s storyline.

“With any good actor, they draw on their own personal experiences to do that role,” says Blair. “It’s the same for writing the songs for Ally. We drew on that arc and wrote songs toward it.”

This article originally appeared in the Sept. 29 issue of Billboard.