Martin Kierszenbaum has made a career out of handling artists — as a manager (Sting), producer and writer (Lady Gaga, Madonna, Robyn) and head of the Cherrytree Music Company — rather than being one himself. But the exec, who co-wrote seven songs on Sting and Shaggy’s Grammy Award-winning 44/876, has been exercising his own muse lately with the singles “My Ann Arbor” and now “Fine Dopamine,” the latter premiering exclusively below.
“I don’t think I ever left it in terms of writing and producing,” Kierszenbaum, who was part of the ’80s rap duo Maroon during his days studying at the University of Michigan, tells Billboard. “I’ve always been playing on people’s records. I sang backgrounds on a Lady Gaga record and a Robyn record. It’s very rewarding for me to be in the studio to be helpful in the creative process.
“I think maybe there’s some subject matter I feel now I can lend my voice to, or maybe just the fact I’ve kind of been exploring some of the reasons why I got into music in the first place and tapping into those feelings of wonder and amazement and reconnecting with that made me feel like singing lead again.”
In addition to writing, producing and singing, Kierszenbaum plays all the instruments on “My Ann Arbor” and “Fine Dopamine,” but he considers both to be “band” endeavors. “It’s like a rock band with a tasteful keyboardist — close to maybe a band I would’ve played in,” Kierszenbaum explains. “I felt like doing a few songs with the same ‘band,’ if you will — kinda guitar-based, nodding to, like, alternative, dark rock. A lot of that ties into some of my musical upbringing. It’s kind of alt-rock, but for 2019. I’m writing songs for that ensemble about things that are topical or come to mind or surge out of me. And I’m having a blast.”
Kierszenbaum’s plan is to release a new single every couple of months, noting that “maybe it becomes an album after 10 months, 20 months, whatever.” He has no song stockpile, either. “I’m just starting the next song,” he notes. And while tending to his other duties with Cherrytree as well as Sting’s upcoming My Songs album and tour will keep him busy, Kierszenbaum has no doubt his own music will keep flowing.
“The bottom line is it’s coming and I’m not questioning it,” he says. “If it feels good, I can do it. I’m really lucky; I’m nimble enough in the studio and I play a lot of instruments, so I don’t have to belabor these recording sessions or overdo it. I like catching the extemporaneous kind of takes. So I think I can keep to the schedule I have in mind and keep putting stuff out.”