Interviews

Claude Kelly: Bridging Music

Claude Kelly is a songwriter who penned hits like “Party In The USA” by Miley Cyrus and “Circus” by Britney Spears. In addition to writing those chart topping hits, Claude has also written for Kelly Clarkson, Chrisette Michele, Toni Braxton, and Whitney Houston to name a few. Claude has quickly become one of the most sought after songwriters in the game.

Singersroom: How did you get into songwriting?

Claude Kelly: I wasn’t one of those songwriters that started writing at three or four years old. I kind of stumbled on it by accident. I was a singer and I played the piano and a couple of other instruments. After I graduated college I was trying to figure out a way to make some money so I said “let me try to figure out something and make things work.” I got in the studio with a friend of mines and wrote a song and it just clicked one day. From then I just have been writing and getting better and better.

Singersroom: Why do you love R&B?

Claude Kelly: R&B is heart music…its soul music! I think it’s the genre that best presents the emotions the best. It’s where you can be the most dramatic and pour your heart out in a record while telling a great story.

Singersroom: With the country in a recession, has that had any impact on the type of sounds you are using?

Claude Kelly: Not the sounds that I am using but it definitely has an impact on the type of songs that I write. I know that because of the state of the economy and the recession that people really want to hear songs that explain their feelings or songs that really speak the truth about what is going on. So for me I have been very fortunate because the records that I have done in the past few months, including Whitney Houston, whose songs are about love. I was fortunate to write on the pop side with Miley Cyrus for “Party In the USA.” You have to really forget about what is going on and learn how to go out and have a good time and party. People have less patience for bull right now. They want to hear music that is real and music that makes them feel good.

Singersroom: As a fan of music, how has your perception changed after becoming an artist? Do you allow radio and TV to influence you?

Claude Kelly: I have learned from working with artists that it’s very important to do your homework with an artist and understand different styles of music. I flip genres so much with my music and I realize that you got to know what you are talking about. One day I might be with Britney Spears and then the next day R. Kelly and I also did some work with Lil Jon so if you don’t know what you are talking about then you will get swallowed up. It is definitely a learning experience. Day by day it takes years and years of practice to get to a certain level. There is no such thing as an overnight success. When you look at Beyonce and R. Kelly you can see that it does take practice.

Singersroom: What movie would you like to score? Why?

Claude Kelly: My dream is to direct or score a Disney movie. It’s been my dream since I was a kid. It may sound silly but Disney is such a genius to me by the way their songs bring the movies to life. It would be my dream to write a score for an animated film. I would do it in a heartbeat!

Singersroom: With the saturation of rappers singing and pop production is it still necessary to categorize separate music genres?

Claude Kelly: You know what it is getting hard to separate it now but it’s a good thing because music is becoming so much greater than what our parents listened to. Kids from all over are exposed to so many types of music and that is what really shapes me as a songwriter. You almost want to welcome it because if it wasn’t for our parents then I wouldn’t even know how to write a record for Kelly Clarkson who went from pop to rock. When I was growing up, you heard what was in the neighborhood so if your mother listened to soul music then that was all you knew.

Singersroom: Are consumers too educated about music business rather than paying attention to quality records?

Claude Kelly: No. In the end a good song always makes it. It doesn’t matter how much they know or how cheesy you think it is because if that song is a hit you are going to be singing along.

Singersroom: How do you write songs for women? How do you get an understanding of their perspective?

Claude Kelly: First of all, I don’t write anything down. I think my strongest asset comes from me already being an artist so when I’m working on something for an artist, I can go in and turn the lights off and just become that person in understanding what their perspective is. So it really doesn’t affect me if it’s a male or female artist because it’s just a matter of getting across their point of view. For example, if the song is saying “I Love You” you take in the perspective of the artist and ask yourself how would Britney Spears say “I Love You?” or how would Chrisette Michele or Whitney Houston say “I Love You?” It’s the same song but each of them would say it in a different way.

Singersroom: Mainstream media outlets play similar sounding songs; do you feel pressure to create songs that get radio play?

Claude Kelly: Nothing wrong with a good hit but for me respect is more important than notoriety. The songs that resonate for me are the ones that you took a chance on and people respect it because it’s not a carbon copy of anything that they have already heard. For example, people know the Britney Spears and Kelly Clarkson records but the one that really hit for me is Chrisette Michele who might not be as mainstream as Britney but people are saying that I really brought something out of her that we haven’t heard before.

Singersroom: What up and coming should we be looking out for?

Claude Kelly: I have Christina Aguilera coming out at the beginning of the year. I worked with her on her album as well as on the soundtrack to this movie she is doing with Cher called Burlesque. I have two songs on R. Kelly’s album that comes out in about a month or two…a song called “Echo” and a song called “Like I Do.” I am also working on Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia albums.

Claude would like to add that he writes for songwriting blogs and is pretty consistent on his myspace page, www.myspace.com/claudekelly. He is working on his own web page but in the meantime people on twitter can find him by going to www.twitter.com/claudekelly.
—— By: Interview By Nisha Yvette

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