Fresh off celebrating his 24th birthday, Charlie Puth sat down to talk about working with Lil Wayne, his friends Meghan Trainor and Selena Gomez, his crazy year and success with "See You Again."
Jason: Happy belated! How was your birthday? Did you celebrate out in California?
Charlie: Yea, I actually just bought a house, so I'm officially a California resident now. I'm up in the Hollywood Hills.
Jason: That's great. Congrats! It's been such a crazy year for you, but just to get started, I wanted to ask you about working with Lil Wayne.
Charlie: Yeah it's been crazy. Working with Wayne was dope. I actually wrote the hook for "Nothing But Trouble" back in 2014. My friend was trying to date one of these Instagram type models and she stood him up a bunch of times. So I was kind of like offhand, "These Instagram models ain't nothin' but trouble." I thought it was a great line, so I went home and recorded it really quick. I sat on it for like a year, but then we redid it a bit and Wayne got a hold of it and we turned it into this whole story.
Jason: Yeah, Wayne is always great with personifying certain subjects and people.
Charlie: Definitely. The crazy thing is, in the video Wayne was swiping the girls. It wasn't even planned, he just started doing it like he was actually in the iPhone swiping through different models. I never thought Wayne would even be on this song, it's such a honor. He's such a phenomenal lyricist and can bring so much life to a track. All the stars lined up for this one.
Jason: They really did."Instagram Models" cracked the Hot 100 and "See You Again" was the number one track. It's been quite a year for hip hop tracks.
Charlie: Yeah, I've basically been trying to surround myself with as many hip hop tracks as possible. The first record I ever bought was the "Marshall Mathers LP." The thing with hip hop is that it's so spur of the moment, you just kind of go in the studio and go with the flow. It's been a honor to work this much in the hip hop world.
Jason: It's funny how things come full circle. I saw "See You Again" joined Eminem's "Lose Yourself" as one of the few singles to spend 10 or more weeks at #1 on the Hot 100 chart.
Charlie: It's crazy. I can't believe it. "See You Again" blessed me. It put me in a category of credibility within a community I want to be a part of so much. It turned out so well. I'd also love to do another song with Wayne. Even as a producer would be cool.
Jason: It kind of reminds me of how Skylar Grey works with a lot of hip hop artists.
Charlie: Yea, I totally know what you mean. It also helps when the artists are easy to get along with. Wiz is super easy to work with and Wayne walked in and was like, 'You killed that sh*t.'
Jason: You've kind of been bouncing around from genre to genre this year. You did the rap thing, the pop thing, the ballads. "Marvin Gaye And Get It On" with Meghan Trainor was a nice throwback type of song.
Charlie: Yea absolutely. When my debut album "NineTrack Mind" drops on January 29, not everything will sound like "Marvin Gaye." A lot of the tracks will have a soulful vibe to them and are pop, but they're all going to be a little different. We also recently did a dope remix to "One Call Away" with Ty Dolla $ign. People love to hear that boom of the 808's and a nice voice behind it.
Jason: I remember I was watching one of your performances and you threw in some organs that weren't in the original track. It reminded me of how hip hop tracks throw organs in there to give it a soulful vibe.
Charlie: Yeah exactly, people love to hear it. When you hear the album on the 29th, you'll get a good idea of what I'm doing differently on all of these songs. There's an undertone of jazz and those chord changes you're used to within that genre which makes the record a lot wider and different from what's out there.
Jason: I think it adds a nice touch. Just kind of going with the flow, perhaps there is less structure, but there is a more natural feel. Would that be correct?
Charlie: Yeah, 100 percent. You can here a song like "Hotline Bling" and you kind of know Drake was vibing with that track and the beat. It's very conversational and I think it makes a song better when there's something people can use in every day conversation. Even if people don't say "These Instagram models ain't nothin' but trouble," it's a topic everyone is talking about.
Jason: Yea, for sure. I heard the remix you did to "Hotline Bling" and then your remix got remixed. It's funny how that happened.
Charlie: Oh my god, that is funny. Kehlani and I were kind of just like, "Hey, lets do a remix to 'Hotline Bling.'" Then some radio programmer took the a cappella version and put it over an instrumental. It was kind of surreal how that happened.
Jason: Since we're talking about Drake, I remember he once said it's more about the way you can say something and not so much the most complicated thing you can say. I feel like you do some of the same and were explaining that a little on your Ryan Seacrest interview. It's very creative and masterful how you can just jump right in there and flow with the melody.
Charlie: It's the simplest melodies that work, but you don't want it to be so simple where it's something that has been done been for. However, there are different things you can do which can turn on a person's mind when they hear a sound or a specific beat.
Jason: One crazy thing I noticed was that you did a cover to "Chandelier" last year, which at the time was the biggest song out. But now people are doing covers to "See You Again," which actually has more views than "Chandelier" now.
Charlie: It's crazy to hear it on the radio, but that's what it did it for me.There's a specific group of YouTuber's who do these covers and they have been jumping on "See You Again" and "Marvin Gaye." It's crazy because I used to be one of those YouTubers and now it's happening with the original songs I'm making.
Jason: So, before you get out of here, I see you Tweeted about a tour with Sean Mendes ("Stitches") you'll be performing at Dick Clark's Christmas Special and I also saw you posted a photo with Selena Gomez. Perhaps there's a collaboration with her down the road?
Charlie: Haha, maybe. Selena is cool, she's a good friend of mine. I try to surround myself with people who have experience in this career since I was kind of thrown into it, so I talk to her a lot because she's been doing this since she was 13. She's made some real records about anxiety and breakups. Talking with her is really refreshing. She's a nice girl and a good influence. I'm still learning and trying to provide people with music they love.