Savan Kotecha, more recently known as the lead voice coach for the X-factor 2010 contestants, is also an award winning songwriter. Starting off writing songs at the age of 16, today at only 31 he has sold over 40 million albums with artists such as Enrique Iglesias, Carrie Underwood, Britney Spears, and Celine Dion. With 4 BMI awards and 2 Billboard Music Awards Savan is one of the very well respected songwriters in the music business.
Of Indian Origin caught up with Savan for a chat:
What is your first “musical memory” and how do you think it’s influenced you in your musical career?
My first musical memory is buying the single ep of Thriller. I remember being obsessed with that song and Michael Jackson. That started my love for pop music.
What musical and cultural influences did you grow up with? Has your Indian roots influenced your music?
I come from a pretty traditional Gujarati family and that made getting into the music business pretty tricky. My parents like most Indian parents, wanted me to go to Uni and be a Doctor or Lawyer. That meant I was on my own for the most part as far as figuring out how to ‘make it’. It also gave me something to prove which made me work extra hard.
I never listened to much Indian music growing up, but I have put a bit of influence in a few songs that have been released (westlife’s “hit you with the real thing”, Celine Dion “Eyes on me”).
Do you recall what your first song was about and why you wrote it?
I don’t remember!! Haha
Who would you say has been influential in your musical career so far?
Probably one of my hero’s Max Martin who’ve I’ve had the pleasure of being mentored by and worked with the past few years.
How would you define your music as a songwriter/artist?
I just love writing fun pop songs that hopefully give people some joy.
What has been your most memorable moment so far?
It changes every year (luckily). At the moment I’d say when Usher recorded “Dj Got Us Falling In Love”. I was sitting there recording a song I wrote with Max Martin and Usher was in the vocal booth….it doesn’t get any better than that! That was a good day! J
How do you write your songs? Do you need to listen to a melody first; do you have a favourite time or place to write? Tell us a bit about your creative process.
Sometimes I’ll come to the studio with a melody idea or a song title or lyric idea I like. Sometimes the producer will have a bit of a beat started that inspires a melody, or they’ll have a melody. I like to make sure the melody is right and that I have a strong title of lyrical concept to the song before moving forward. I spend a lot of time reading women’s magazines (haha!) and getting lyrical ideas from that. The idea for my song “T Shirt” with Shontelle actually came from a letter in a Cosmo magazine. I’m always getting ideas from TV shows and Movies.
You are the Lead Vocal Coach for the X-Factor in the UK. How has the experience been? And who is your favourite amongst the current participants?
I can’t pick favourites!!! Haha …It’s been an interesting experience so far. I was asked by Simon to come in and help make sure the contestants sing like pop artists and are prepared for the “real world” (for after the show). I would say I’m more of a vocal producer on the show rather then a very technical vocal coach. I’m approaching it like I would in the studio because for the first time they are selling the recordings of the songs on I tunes. I’ve been learning a lot about TV and what its like to have a “real job’’ ….it’s been great!
What’s with the hairdos on the X-Factor? Is that a stress buster?!
Haha Well it’s sort of how I am anyway..i’m a bit of a weirdo!! I like keeping things loose in the studio and a lot of the contestants are young and nervous and were very self conscious. (especially once they figured out more about my career history). My philosophy is if I’m the ‘idiot’ in the room, they don’t feel so self-conscious and can sing out and make mistakes and work through it without feeling embarrassed. It’s all pop music so it should be fun!
So what’s happening in the next year? What projects are you looking to work on?
I’m working on tons of different things coming out next year. Some of the bigger US things are things I’m not allowed to talk about at the moment, but for the UK I’m working on Alexandra Burke’s new album, will likely get involved in Leona’s new album. Also new artists like Christian TV some Disney artists like Demi Levato.