How To Make a Hit Song: Sean Garrett

If the music industry were the NBA, then Sean Garrett would be aiming for the title of MVP. Sean Garret represents a growing breed of triple threat artists – being a singer, songwriter, and producer wrapped into one colorfully explosive package. In his still young career, his resume reads like an artist nomination list at […]

If the music industry were the NBA, then Sean Garrett would be aiming for the title of MVP. Sean Garret represents a growing breed of triple threat artists – being a singer, songwriter, and producer wrapped into one colorfully explosive package. In his still young career, his resume reads like an artist nomination list at the Grammy awards. Having worked with the likes of Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, and Usher just to name a few, this southern gentlemen has only one response to the music game. Winning.Sean is taking his winning attitude with him as he embarks on what might be his most challenging feat to date: his solo artist career.  He has masterfully crafted hit songs for everyone else, but for many the question still remains: can he deliver the goods for himself? Well, if you ask Mr. “Bet I Penned It” himself. he will undoubtedly say that the answer to that question is yes. He told us that and so much more when we got the chance to catch up with the young hitmaker… Alternatives: What do you think it takes to make a hit record, on all fronts? Sean Garrett: First, know your audience; know what your people like to hear. Know what your people want to hear and then taking it up about five or six notches from there, because you’ve got to pretty much know what they like and know what to give them. But then don’t give them what they expect – exceed what they expect. When I did “Yeah” for Usher, I knew people wanted to see Usher fly like Mike. So you even have to take it to a whole other level and put it on a beat that everybody was going to feel, everybody was going to relate to and just be in the pocket. I knew Usher’s talents, I knew Usher’s ability to dance. I wanted a record that he could put on like a jacket, that he doesn’t even have to stretch the sides. It just fits him. Yeah – UsherI knew that there were certain sensibilities I had to include in that record that made the Hip-Hop community respect it as well. The way he sang on it, the way the chorus felt; those sensibilities are very important when you’re building a record for an audience that is so diverse as today’s audience. AHHA: I’m going to name three songs that you worked on and if you could just give me an idea of what your mindset was and where your head was at the time when you were working on them.AHHA: The first one is “Run It” by Chris Brown.Sean Garrett: When I did “Run It” for Chris Brown, I was thinking about the future.  Chris Brown was an artist that was like fifteen years old. I signed my first record deal when I was a teen, so when I did that song for Chris Brown, I just thought about a young me. That’s why it’s so funny to me when people ask the questions, “Why are you doing the artist thing now?” It’s funny, because I’ve been an artist.  Run It – Chris BrownSo when I thought about Chris Brown, I thought about me. I thought about the 15-year-old Sean Garrett. Also I felt Chris Brown had enormous talent. I wanted to give him something that gave him an identity of his own and that people would not compare to anybody else. And that hook “Is your man on the floor/ if he ain’t/Let me know/Let me see if you can run it, run it.” It’s his own identity. You couldn’t compare him to anybody else. You could compare him to a young kid that was very talented, that was very handsome, sort of cool and could really dance. That’s what that was about. AHHA: The next is “Goodies” by Ciara.Sean Garrett: Again that was another situation where I was thinking about the future. Ciara was the one that again – she’s like my little sister and she is someone I felt was really talented – had the ability to go if she had the right song. So I had to reach into my bag of tricks and sort of give her an identity, make people stop, look, listen and pay attention to her. I chose a track that wasn’t typical for a lady. Goodies – Ciara feat Petey PabloI think that is part of the reason why I have been able to stand on my own. It’s the fact that my choices in writing and producing records for certain artists have always been situations that would fit perfectly for that artist. Not taking the most typical. It’s almost like in rap, when you choose tracks; great rappers choose beats. To me Puff will always be an incredible producer, because he always chose things that weren’t really typical, whether it be a sample or not. He would always make it sound original, and that’s what it’s about. AHHA: The next is “Get Me Bodied” by Beyonce.Sean Garrett: Beyonce is like my sister who I respect as one of the most talented females in the music business.  When I’m working with B, it’s like a female me. She is the truth. When I do records with her, I can come up with any type of concept from “Ring the Alarm” to “Upgrade U,” records that are say lot more than just the normal. Get Me Bodied – Beyonce“Get Me Bodied” isn’t the typical title; it isn’t the typical subject matter to write about. I just like to give her records that she can sort of unveil to the world and give a different way to say something sexy, fun and exciting. That’s what “Get Me Bodied,” is about.  It’s about giving her a song that would make people have fun and all the young girls, feel like their sister is out there singing their song. AHHA: How has your mindset changed, now that you’re working on your solo project?Sean Garrett: First off, my album is done. It’s being compared to Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. I put even more pressure on myself to do bigger hits than I’ve ever done, because I know the cameras are on me, the lights are on me. You know you always got haters, so I’m definitely very aware of the opportunity to hate on the process. So all it does is…I am one type of person that is at least intrigued by that type of vibe. I always embrace love, I put out love, and I’m always aware of my surroundings. When I feel like there is any question, I am definitely that first person that tries to eliminate questions. So it makes me go probably about five or six more notches up, than I would even go on Usher’s, just because I know what kind of scenario I’m in, and I know it’s very difficult for people to think that lightning strikes twice. I’m the kind of person that wants people to realize that lightning can strike as many times as God wants it to strike. That’s what I believe in, and I know He gave me the ability upon me to use every aspect of it and to perfect my records to another level.AHHA: Now do you feel the sense of pressure, being that you have written many hits for other artists? Do you feel any pressure to make this album the greatest thing ever because it’s for you?Sean Garrett: Yeah most definitely. And that’s what it is. I will say it again “Grippin” is probably the worse record on the album. And I say that to say, I love “Grippin” but again, that was a record I put out because I wanted people to realize that I’m still here. Just since I’m so successful, I’m not going to go all out and lose my cool. Come out with a Top 40 record and not pay attention to my hood, not pay attention to the hood, and not pay attention to the young girls I grew up with that’s high school and still living a regular life. I just want a song they can feel comfortable with and feel like it’s relatable to them. You know, some people freak out. Some people lose it when they have success, and I don’t want to do that.  One thing you will recognize when you hear my album is a lot of poise on it, but there is definitely nothing but smoke on it. It’s because I appreciate every fan, every critic, every peer, every DJ – I took all of that into consideration. I wanted to give people an album where initially they may have questions about, but once they hear the album, they have no doubt that it’s my biggest accomplishment. AHHA: If you could only be remembered for one at the end of the day, twenty years from now, what is the one thing you’d like to be remembered for? Sean Garrett:  To be honest with you, I would like to think of myself as the young Lionel Ritchie, and what I mean by that is I’m a great music man. Whether I’m singing it, writing it, producing it, whatever I’m just a great music man. I’m a person that loves, first of all. I’m a man that stands for love and positivity, and I appreciate people. That’s the first thing, I want to be noted and remembered as a great man first of all. Second of all, I want to be remembered as a person that loves music. Whether you hear songs that I’m singing or the songs that I’m writing or producing, I want you love it. That’s my role, my purpose on earth, to make people feel good, to make people appreciate the world we live in. That is how I want to be remembered.