Let’s just get it out of the way: Charlie Puth and Meghan Trainor are not dating. Their mega makeout at the American Music Awards was totally planned. He’s ready for his next stage appearance as part of the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball, for which he’s created a mobile studio on his tour bus.
Casually brushing off those who saw the kiss and cried publicity stunt, Puth tells Billboard it was instead “a visual representation” of his song “Marvin Gaye.” “I wanted to make a record people could put on and fall in love with each other the minute they hear it. All these R&B soul records I grew up with — I wanted to make the modern day version of that. Ariana Grande chose to dance to ‘Focus’ wearing a ‘20s ritzy scenario with everyone wearing white — that was visually what she saw. It’s a matter of taste.”
Moving on, “I don’t want ‘Marvin Gaye’ to represent my artistry forever,” he says. “At that moment I wanted to make a throwback record. Throwback records don’t represent me as an artist, but the soulfulness attached to them totally does.”
Puth next will bring his soulfulness to the iHeartRadio Jingle Ball tour, which launches Dec. 1 in Dallas and also features, at different stops, One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, Demi Lovato, Nick Jonas, Shawn Mendes, Tove Lo, among others.
“I can’t bring these crowds in myself, so it’s great to be around all these artists making a collaborative effort to bring all these people into one place to celebrate music,” he says. “I’m excited to see everyone perform so I can learn from them. It’s going to inspire me to create music so I have a little studio set up in my bus. I’m going to get off the stage and go right to my studio and make music.”
Current music-making tasks include final production on Nine Track Mind, Puth’s full-length album debut due Jan. 29. The album now includes a new song, “Dangerously,” which he wrote only a few weeks ago. “No one’s heard it yet,” he says. “It’s about loving a girl dangerously, taking it to the extremes to make her fall in love with you, and even though she makes it seem like she would it was actually never her intention.”
He also plans to hunker down writing for “other artists who are working on their albums, like Ariana, who I’m writing for right now.” While he’s not ready to spill on other current collaborations, he says, “A lot of interesting things are coming together. There’s huge, A-list people I never through I’d be able to work with who are totally down to collaborate with me. It really touches me.”
Puth also expects to get additional inspiration on the road. “I might see Joe Jonas’ group DNCE perform and say, ‘Hey guys, I have this idea for you’ and start something for them. I love doing that for people.”
And then there’s more writing for himself. “I used to prefer to be in the studio doing my own thing, but now I crave performing because it goes right back to the studio for me. I get inspired when people know every lyric to songs I write. I take that energy from stage and get exited to make the next song they’re going to scream along to.”
So will Puth be locking lips with any Jingle Ball tour mates? “Music does bring people together in interesting ways, so you never know,” he teases. “We’ll have to see what the Christmas season brings.”