In Soundation’s STORY series, we catch up with creators we love to learn the secrets of their success. We recently had the pleasure of catching up with Swedish producer Joy Deb — the pop genius behind artists like Loreen, Fifth Harmony, Måns Zelmerlöw, FO&O, and Marcus & Martinus.
—Where did you get your start, and how did you end up here, making pop music?
I started out playing in metal bands when I was 15. Later on, I went to a music production school and discovered that it was more fun to work in the studio. It took many years before my songs got heard and released with artists. The turning point wasn’t like, one song. You have to build your catalog and eventually songs get out, and also, you get better. It’s a lot about networking — not just contacts, but creating real relationships with people. Be a nice person, and make good music, because it’s still about music in the end.
—What do you think is special about making pop, in comparison to other music?
Pop is a challenge since it’s always about “now” — not the past and not the future. The music has to be right and at the right time. Lyrics are central in pop and they have to be catchy, with a lot of hooks and also easy to understand. But still, they can’t be too cheesy!
—How do you combine your roles as a songwriter and producer?
In pop music you have two parts — it’s the production and the top line, which is the melody and lyrics. Currently, I’m mostly focusing on producing and collaborating with other topliners.
—Where and how do you start when writing a pop song?
We usually start by asking what kind of music we want to do, and on what topic. Like, what do we want to write about? Sometimes we start a song with piano and guitar, sometimes with loops or just a sound that helps us come up with ideas.
—Can you tell us about a mistake that you’ve learned from?
I wish that I believed more in myself from the start. It’s easy to get stuck in other peoples’ patterns if you don’t listen enough to yourself. That’s hard in the beginning!
—Can you share a technical production tip that usually works for you?
Try to keep it simple and don’t overcomplicate stuff. Sometimes, I throw stuff away from the production and see if I can live without it. Be patient, rewrite and redo until it’s perfect.
—What are your 3 best tips for producing pop music?
- Study other productions. Study, and try to copy other productions in order to learn, but not to sound like them in the end.
- Experiment to develop. Always dare to try new things in order to find your unique sound and stay fresh.
- Drums and vocals are everything. It’s all about rhythm and melody! And as a pop producer, remember that vocals are incredibly important.
Now, go and make some pop tunes!