Although the current musical landscape boasts the beauty of seeing some of music’s biggest hitmakers behind the scenes come to be stars in their own rights (see: Timbaland, Pharrell Williams, etc.), the name “Poo Bear” rings bells for industry insiders in search of their next hit but not so much to the average music consumer.
Bear, born Jason Boyd, has seen his penmanship line the credits of hits from the likes of Justin Bieber (‘What Do You Mean’), Chris Brown, Kelly Rowland, Sam Smith, DJ Khaled (‘I’m the One’), Jennifer Lopez, and more. As if that’s not enough, over 20 years into his career the 39-year-old helped mastermind 2017’s megahit, ‘Despacito’ (currently tied for the longest run atop the Hot 100).
With a mounting list of accomplishments in his storied career, Bear had yet to release a project that saw him at the forefront…until now. Thanks to ‘Poo Bear Presents Bearthday Music’ (in stores now), the star songwriter/producer takes the driver seats in ways like never before. Acting as curator for the “playlist set” (which features the likes of Jennifer Lopez, Justin Bieber, Zara Larsson, and more), Bear sat down with That Grape Juice to dish exclusively on how the project came to be, his next moves, and even working with pop icon Mariah Carey for her next album.
Read all this and more inside:
TGJ: We’re loving your new album, ‘Bearthday Music’! Before we delve into that, tell us little about your journey (for those who don’t know the man behind the hits).
PB: I got my foot in the door with my cousin who discovered the [R&B] group 112. I was writing songs for fun since age 11, but my cousin encouraged me to make a career out of it. My first hit record was their song “Anywhere.” From there, I kept writing for them and later for other artists, signed my first publishing deal, then worked with everybody from Jill Scott to Usher and so many others.
TGJ: Your footprint in music in unique that – unlike the Timbalands and Pharrell Williams of the world – you’ve worked with everyone but people are still getting to know YOU. What was your goal heading into the making of your new album ‘Bearthday Music’?
PB: Very true. I always wanted to do a project like this and it finally came to fruition after I saw all these unfinished songs I had laying around that never made it to artists’ albums. So, I wanted to create a compilation that would really showcase me as the focal point. Not so much as a singer or artist, but more like a music curator.
Going forward, I want to do this once a year like a birthday because I have so many records.
TGJ: The album spans so many genres and we’ve read that you wanted it to play like a playlist – instead of a conventional album. Why was that?
PB: Because the way we consume music now is different thanks to streaming. So, I want it to feel like an iPod shuffle – a taste of diverse and different genres at once.
The album has a pronounced Latin lean. Talk to us about your love of this genre.
PB: Organically, the industry is shifting to a fusion of Reggaeton and more tropical sounds. Scooter Braun introduced me to Balvin and after we started working together I really just found a love for the Latino music and movement. What came from that was the huge blessing to be part of ‘Despacito’ – the biggest Latin record of all time.
The LP boasts an Avengers-like line-up of guests such as Justin Bieber (who’s on lead single ‘Hard 2 Face Reality,’) Jennifer Lopez, and J Balvin. How did some of these collaborations come about?
I was already working with Balvin, of course I’ve worked a lot with my brother Bieber, and I was also already working on Jennifer Lopez‘s ‘Us.’ So, it all happened organically.
Everybody I approached to work on my project while working on my own was all for it. Then, I realized how cool it could be for my project to be a vehicle to keep artists’ names out there while the world is waiting on their individual projects. That way it’s a win-win.
TGJ: Great segue to our next question. We hear you’ve been working on Mariah Carey’s new album. Tell us a little about what it’s like making music with Mimi and the places you’re going sonically with her?
PB: Legally, I’m not really allowed to say much other than I really think she’s a great songwriter and person. We have been in the studio and working hard, so I’m excited about the music we’re creating. Can’t wait for you guys to hear her next chapter.
TGJ: The industry has seen many shifts, with the latest being the full embrace of streaming. Has that changed or impacted your creation process at all?
PB: Of course, the goal is always to “make a hit,” but back in the day you made music for the radio because you knew certain songs would be sent to certain genre radio formats. The beauty of streaming is nowadays all you have to worry about is making great music, not necessarily conforming to what’s hot on the radio.
TGJ: Finally, you’ve worked with a “who’s who” of the music business: who haven’t you worked with yet that’s on your wishlist?
PB: I’m going to keep saying it until it happens; Celine Dion! She is someone I’ve always dreamed of writing for and working with. Somebody else, to be honest, would be Drake. I think he’s a brilliant songwriter.
TGJ: We’re surprised to hear you say Celine. Great pick for the obvious reasons, but why for you?
PB: It’s a personal dream. Growing up, I loved her tone and her vocals have always been amazing. I want to do multiple records with her because I believe my style of writing and melodies would go so well with her voice.