Dave Bassett scored two big radio hits last year, co-writing and producing Elle King‘s “Ex’s & Oh’s” and co-writing Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song.” Earning a best rock song Grammy nomination for the former, the Malibu songwriter/record producer kept notes on his Grammys experience for Billboard. Here’s Dave Bassett’s Grammy diary on the “parties, meetings and chaos” that filled his week. Follow him on Twitter here.
Tuesday, Feb. 9
It begins. The first party. Nylon’s Pre-Grammy bash in Hollywood at No Vacancy. My brother John, a television producer, lives a block from the party so I pick him up and off we go. The red carpet is a mob scene! This is early in the week and only those with maximum party stamina dare start the week already. I spot my friend Shawn Hook whose single “Sound of your Heart” is just breaking at radio. The party is crankin’ away but after some cocktails we decide to call it a night. It’s going to be a long week so I gotta pace myself.
Wednesday, Feb. 10
I head over to the Kobalt Music Publishing event at the Sunset Marquis Hotel. This is a great Grammy Week hang with all of the amazing publishers and writers at Kobalt, where I’m signed as a writer. I feel right at home and it’s so wonderful to get face time with everyone there. A highlight for me was when my old friend and super talented writer/producer Wally Gagel introduced me to Jónsi from the amazing Icelandic band Sigur Rós. The fanboy in me came out a bit as I’ve been a huge admirer of their incredibly original soundscape for quite a while.
Friday, Feb. 12
Gonna be a big, long day today. When picking up my tickets at the Convention Center downtown right next to the Staples Center, I pause to check out all the Grammy set-up going on. For the first time I feel the magnitude of the event and it feels pretty special to be a part of it. Back in the car and into Los Angeles Friday traffic. I’m off to the SLS Hotel for the ASCAP Grammy nominee party. I see a lot of familiar faces from throughout my time with ASCAP — when I first moved to L.A. I temped at the front desk! These are the folks that have been with me for the whole journey and it’s so cool to share this moment with them. I hang with Eddie and Edan from the band The Score. A song I wrote and produced with them called “On & On” is being featured on HBO promoting their lineup. So we celebrate — that’s what this week is about!
Next stop, a club called Lure for the OK! Magazine Grammy Party featuring an exclusive performance by…yes!…Elle King. I meet up with Elle when she arrives and I get to meet her fiancé and family. We pop some champagne and toast her engagement as well as the Grammy nom.
Looking down at the club crowd, it’s a full-on dance party made up of the Hollywood scenesters, and I’m wondering how Elle will pull this off solo with a banjo and acoustic guitar. Well, she kicks ass, that’s how! As soon as she hits the stage, the four-on-the-floor pumping beat comes to a halt. She instantly commands the crowd with a little raunchy banter and some great playing and singing. When she launches into “Ex’s and Oh’s” the crowd sings along every word. It’s an amazing feeling for me. By now its 10 p.m. and I have to get over to the Friends ‘N’ Family party across town. When I arrive, I am able to catch up with a lot of writers I normally don’t see because we’re all so busy in our studios making music. It’s a nice way to end the evening and I hit the road back to Malibu and am in bed by 2 a.m. Not bad!
Saturday, Feb. 13
Mustering up the energy to get back in the car. Tonight I’m heading to The Creators dinner party hosted by Spotify, Katy Perry, Sia, Missy Elliott and Greg Kurstin. I pick up my friend Dave Lichens who is the other half of my band Dave Not Dave and we head toward downtown L.A. to Cicada, a beautiful art deco dinner club. Checking in, it’s clear this is gonna be fun. Tons of red carpet action as we enter into the reception area greeted by a fantastic sounding 16-piece string section. Tonight is a night exclusively for songwriters, producers and artists. No lawyers, managers and record execs. How cool! Everyone went the extra mile on this one to look their best and they do. Katy greets us along with her date, Orlando Bloom. A-list writers and artists everywhere. What an honor to be included in this night. A great four-course dinner is served followed by some killer performances highlighted by Sia singing her song “Chandelier” with Greg Kurstin on piano. I get a chance to re-connect with Ellie Goulding who I met at a songwriting retreat in France and Jason Mraz who I hadn’t seen since we wrote together over a year ago. An amazing event. Day 5 of the 7 days of Grammys.
Sunday, Feb. 14
It’s Valentine’s Day so there is no way I’m going to make it another Grammy party night and miss the chance to have a nice evening with my wife [pictured with Bassett above] and our wonderful daughters. So I head to the Grammy nominee reception on the early side. The party is jammed already and I’m directed to an area where I receive a beautiful Tiffany nominee medal. This thing is heavy! Haha. Then I get in line to have my official nominee picture taken. Glad I showered! I say hi to my friend Mike Knobloch who heads up film/TV for NBC Universal. He’s been nominated for Best Soundtrack Compilation. Then I see Rocky Dawuni who is nominated for Best Reggae Album. It’s amazing the diversity of talent at the Grammys!!! I make a couple laps and realized it’s time to go celebrate Valentine’s Day with my family! Need to get some rest too because tomorrow is…
Monday, Feb. 15
The big day! We head down to the awards because the Grammy for Best Rock Song will be awarded as part of the Premiere Ceremony before the telecast. Our other nomination for Best Rock Performance will be a part of the televised awards. My wife Nicki looks amazing in her black velvet dress and I put on my blue velvet blazer and we Uber downtown to meet Elle at the red carpet, who looks awesome in her black gown. We separate for bit to do our own interviews and then find each other again and do some photos together. I have a new respect for the stars that live this day in and day out!
We get to the Premiere Ceremony just in time to take a seat before our big moment. I am super nervous but anxious to get it over with. It’s thrilling to hear our song and names announced in such amazing company — Alabama Shakes, Florence Welch, James Bay…come on! Very humbling. The announcement comes fast and Alabama Shakes gets the win. All the anticipation, expectations and hype gone in an instant. If I didn’t love the Alabama Shakes so much I would have been bummed but truth is that they made a great record and deserved the win as much as any of us. But there is still one more shot for our song.
We get into the Staples Center with just a few moments to spare before the telecast. The show was charged with some amazing performances. To hear James Bay and Tori Kelly sing with perfection, see Kendrick Lamar break new ground rapping with such edge over masterful bebop, the Eagles with Jackson Browne singing to the heavens for Glenn Frey, Ellie Goulding and Andra Day (both who I’ve been lucky enough to work with) digging deep into their souls…wow. Great stuff. Again, the moment came where the nerves go wild as they announce the noms for Best Rock Performance. Again, Alabama Shakes take the win. I am truly happy for them — great record. I see Elle and give her a big hug. Who knew that when we spent those five hours together that day that we would be experiencing all of this. Truly a blessing and we both know it. We remind ourselves of the journey our little song has taken in the past year. It truly shows that you never know. Some days the stars just align.
We jump into the limo and head to the Republic afterparty which is packed with familiar faces, friends and artists and I feel blessed to have been nominated by my peers for our song. We close the night out at Andra Day’s party in the Hollywood Hills. I am glad I get a chance to see her and tell her how incredible she sounded. When we wrote together a few months back neither of us had any idea where our paths were leading.
The ride home seems longer than it is and by the time I climb into bed I don’t have anything left in the tank. An exhausting week filled with celebration. Enough for a full year! So ’til next February…