Connor Cruise’s first foray into music production will not go without scrutiny: after all, it’s risky business for any child of a celebrity to pursue a career in the spotlight. But on his debut single, “Closer To Heaven,” Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman’s son appears to be making all the right moves. Connor’s enlisted a few good men to help him out: singer Mason Musso, formerly of pop-dance band Metro Station, and songwriter/producer DJ Poet, a frequent Black Eyed Peas collaborator.
“I was trying to make an upbeat commercial dance music track that makes you feel good and is more of an anthem,” Cruise tells Billboard in an exclusive interview.
Produced solely by Cruise and co-written with Musso and DJ Poet (given name, Jamie L. Munson) along with Che Brooks, ”Closer To Heaven” is a four-to-the-floor pop tune wrapped in a sound plucked straight from the dance festival stages of 2013. It’s an EDM track by genre, but by form, it is far and away a pop tune, thanks largely to the influence of Cruise’s pop-credentialed co-stars.
“I have always loved working with DJ Poet,” says Cruise. “Ever since I started producing he has really helped to mentor and guide me through the whole world of music.”
Poet’s most successful collab with the Peas, “Boom Boom Pow,” earned a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance, and like that track, “Closer To Heaven” showcases an efficient topline that lets the production take center stage. Musso’s breathy tenor balances Cruise’s trance-inspired counter-melody that intentionally wobbles on each note — an effect that is not only unique but somewhat daring for a first-time producer.
“When I made the track I had Mason’s voice in mind the whole time,” says Cruise. “When it came time to put a vocal on it, having him was perfect.”
Recorded in Los Angeles, “Closer To Heaven” is Cruise’s first venture into production, though he has been making a name for himself in the last year as a DJ, playing parties with Nervo and Steve Aoki. Cruise says it was another teenaged DJ who had him bewitched with the beats. “I have always loved house music since I was a little kid but when I saw Madeon at Coachella [in 2012]. That really inspired me to go fully into EDM and producing.”
Even a cursory listen to “Closer To Heaven” should have your happy feet jumping on a couch. Naturally, it’s hard to separate the artist from his famous parents, but keep your eyes wide shut for a minute, fix yourself a cocktail and just go with it. This is no novelty track and it won’t be the last we hear from Connor Cruise.