Do you guys remember the Midnight Love era, a series of late-night shows popular at urban radio stations in the 90s? If you turned on your favorite R&B/Hip-Hop radio station between 10 p.m. - 2 a.m., for me it was 92.3 The Beat or 102.3 KJLH; you'd catch ultra-slow, seductive R&B/Soul love jams (aka babymaking music or break up music). From Marvin Gaye to Sade you can lay back and get lost in excellent songwriting and music production for a few hours.
So many music lovers appreciated the Midnight Love era because artists showcased their vocal prowess, and it was exciting. Artists such as Drew Scott is bringing that thrill back to R&B. He's among a list of stars who are adding their own spin to slow jams. That's why his single “Unhealthy," is our Fresh Music Friday feature of the week. I talked to the 2-time Grammy nominated singer/songwriter/producer who works with vocal heavy-hitters like Teyana Taylor, Dawn Richard, Luke James, Fantasia, Zendaya and many others, about what he plans to bring back to R&B and why he compares the music business to an abusive relationship.
Musik ID TV: "Unhealthy" has that Midnight Love vibe that we're digging! Share your process of creating the track from concept to completed single.
Drew Scott: Thank you! I'm always looking for a way to bridge the old with the new to give listeners something nostalgic yet fresh at the same time. I love the space that R&B is in and how it's constantly evolving with artists releasing music daily. "Unhealthy" came from the idea of a relationship so addictive it becomes unhealthy. You start to have withdrawals when you're not with that person. You start to become irrational and sometimes do things you normally wouldn't do.
MIDTV: In most songs - popular or independent - there is a unifying theme of love. What does love mean to you?
DS: Love means to me I'm allowing someone into the most sacred part of my being not to change me but to help me become the person needed for my purpose. Sometimes, it's the heartache that strengthens or destroys us. Other times it's the compassion, understanding and selflessness of others that allow us to discover our gifts.
MIDTV: As an experienced singer, songwriter, and producer what is the recipe for a great song?
DS: I don't think there's necessarily a recipe. I think it's all about a vibe especially in today's R&B with acts like SZA, Daniel Cesar, Xavier Omar, H.E.R., DVSN, etc. For me, I love films and cinema and how they suspend your belief for 90+ minutes. I try and approach music the same way. I want to suspend your belief and take you somewhere. That's why my EP series is called Places I've Ever Been. Even if you haven't been there physically or emotionally, you'll feel as if you have.
MIDTV: Do people pressure you to write songs that you don't agree with and how did you deal with that?
DS: I always try and make sure the song I'm writing for another artist is an authentic representation of them and their art. The fans can smell the fake a mile away and nowadays aren't afraid to express their opinions and have ways of getting that said opinion to you. So make sure your message is something you can stand behind.
MIDTV: In an interview, you said that the "music industry is like an abusive relationship. You get in it, and you’re like 'this is the last time, I’m not going to take this no more! I know my worth!' and the next day you find yourself back in the studio writing, recording and doing the same thing over and over again. It’s one of those things that you hate to love it, but you love to hate it too." Do you still see the music industry as an abusive relationship? Has your perspective changed on your musical journey?
DS: Until labels look to partner and not enslave creatives it's going to be an abusive relationship. It's changing thanks to more ways artists are able to release music and build an audience but the business side of the industry isn't designed with intentions for everyone in business to win. The beautiful thing now is that artists are demanding more respect and fair compensation for their art one song at a time. I'm seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
MIDTV: You've been playing the piano since 5-years-old and started producing records as a teenager. Do you recall the exact moment you realized that you wanted to be a singer/songwriter/producer? Describe that moment.
DS: I grew up in a religious household so my mom wasn't playing anything but classic R&B and Gospel. One day I saved some money, snuck to a Tower Records afterschool because it was on the bus route and bought the single "Up Jumps Da Boogie" by Timbaland and Da Supafriends (Missy, Aaliyah, Ginuwine, Magoo). I couldn't get the track out of my head. I played it so much it started skipping. I saw the credits and saw it read 'produced by' Timbaland and learned creating tracks is an actual profession. From that day on, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
MIDTV: Which producers, songwriters, or artists are you inspired by and would like to collaborate with and why?
DS: Lately, I've been loving the vibes of artists like Daniel Cesar, Sabrina Claudio, SZA, DVSN, K. Forest, Arin Ray. A lot of these newer R&B acts are killing it right now and pushing the sonics of R&B. As far as producers, I would love to work with Babyface and pick his brain. He's my blueprint in regards to how he made a name for himself as not only a brilliant songwriter/producer but artists as well.
MIDTV: Being that you're a triple threat (singer, songwriter, and producer), is there another craft you would like to develop next?
DS: I would like to get into acting. I randomly got into voice acting two months ago and just provided some voices for a featured Anime film. I've acted my whole life growing up and it's one of those bugs that have been lingering around for a while and won't go away. I would like to see where this journey takes me. I would also like to design an accessories line mainly for men where we sell jewelry, hats, etc.
MIDTV: Based on your Instagram, you have a great sense of style. How important is fashion to you as an artist?
DS: Thank you! I think fashion is your personal billboard. It tells others what you think about yourself without you saying a word. It can't be put in a box but I believe fashion is confidence more than anything. Since I was a kid, I've always went against the grain so I tend to wear things and not second guess myself.
MIDTV: Please share any upcoming projects that you are releasing soon.
DS: I will be releasing the 3rd and final installment to my Places I've Ever Been series Spring 2018 via all digital platforms.
Get more updates on Drew Scott and the Place I've Ever Been series here: