My Interview With Justin Bieber's Producer, Jason “Poo Bear” Boyd
Emily: Welcome! As I’m a life/business coach, I will ask questions on your perspective of what it takes for a music artist to truly succeed in the industry. Since you have had such a long, successful career and most recently have been producing music with Justin Bieber, your advice will really help countless numbers of our fans who visit the site. So what would you say is your key philosophy on life with all the life experience you’ve had so far?
Poo Bear: I will have to say my key philosophy in life would be –four P’s: prayer, persistence, patience and then that all equals perseverance. Those are my keys, you know, to become successful, it’s just prayer, patience, persistence and then use that, it equals perseverance.
Emily: Perseverance. You can’t get anywhere in life without that, perseverance...
Poo Bear: Exactly. It’s like the most important thing. A lot of people give up right before they succeed. It’s almost like you just learn to just stick in, keep on and never give up. And usually, when you put out that energy, it comes back..when you put that energy out there to the universe…
Emily: Exactly, I really agree with you with that as well. They say that you’re working hard at whatever your dream is and it’s your passion, you’re working hard, you’re working hard, you’re working hard and you feel like you’re not getting the results that you want fast enough. You keep hitting walls and facing obstacles that just wear you out. And then a lot of times, artists, they just give up right before when it’s that moment for them to have a breakthrough.
Poo Bear: Yup, that’s right.
Emily: You know? So they’re building themselves up and they’re learning how to get around those obstacles little by little and so they’re getting stronger in reality.
Poo Bear: Exactly, exactly.
Emily: But then when that last wall appears…they give up. I learned through my own experiences as an artist and coaching those in arts and entertainment that it’s about getting past wall and learning…at the end of the day you end up…
Poo Bear: Stronger and wiser.
Emily: Exactly! That is what is needed. So that’s very good to share for our fans. And so what do you think it truly takes for a music artist or someone who’s a music professional, who’s an industry professional to succeed in this business for the long term?
Poo Bear: On the long-term would be being able to adapt with the times and being able to grow with the times and staying ahead of the curb and just know…have an idea of what you think is coming up next. When I’m creating, I’m thinking about NOW, but I’m also thinking about how do I feel people would accept my music six months and nine months from now. So it’s just always trying to stay ahead and adapt and evolve with the industry because music is evolving every day. Music changes every month. It’s evolving. It’s a non-stop revolving door. You just got to be able to adapt and evolve with the times or you’ll get left behind.
Emily: That’s so true. So you’re talking about the future of music and you have to be very adaptive. So what about five years from now, ten years from now, one year from now? What do you see would be the future of music? What do you think it’s going to sound like? What would be hot for artists to look like? What do you envision is coming up?
Poo Bear: It just seems like getting more and more simplified because I feel like people have… ADD now. It’s like everybody has ADD because television programming is growing so powerful. And since people’s attention is not as long as what it used to be, it’s like everything within music like bridges that were important before, they’re becoming not as important because of people’s attention. It doesn’t even allow them to care about a bridge. Now they just care about the verse and the chorus, the end and that’s it! It’s understanding that everything is being simplified. At the same time, it has to be clever enough to be respected and appreciated, but it still has to be simple enough for the human brain to be able to digest it and be able to receive it and not be overwhelming. I’m thinking five years from now, I just think that music is going to keep on – even if you look at it from the ‘50s to the ‘60s, the ‘70s, the music was so complex with all these different chords and all these different arrangements. Now it’s just like you’re lucky if you get like two chords. Everything just keeps getting more simple. I feel like people just can’t really handle it anymore. It’s too much going on. Soulful pop is going to EDM, it’s already going to EDM.
Emily: Right! Mixing around.
Poo Bear: Yeah, exactly. It’s being mixed up. R&B and Soul is kind of – I can’t say it’s gone, but it was on the verge of leaving. R&B was on the verge of leaving and I felt like, honestly, Justin Bieber saved R & B and kind of holding on to this lost sound right now. But that’s basically where I feel like music is going in the next five years. It’s going to be clever, but still simple – even more simple than it is now.
Emily: We’re taught if an original comes back, then it comes back reinvented. And you’re saying alot people have ADD when it has to do with music nowadays. I live in New York, so I understand completely because everything is so fast-paced. There’s so much more competition.. And then social media on top of that. Everyone has every type of social media nowadays, so it’s almost like how do you handle it?
Poo Bear: Instant.
Emily: Instant gratification. I definitely understand that. So tell me about the key moment in your life where you realized you were meant to work in music?
Poo Bear: I kind of knew when I was younger, when I was nine right before the tornado, I used to sneak and listen to Stevie Wonder at night. My father is a preacher. I grew up in a really religious church home. So I used to sneak in and listen to Stevie Wonder. I was nine and that’s when I kind of made it up in my mind that I want to write songs. I was listening to Stevie Wonder and I was like, “Oh, I want to make music like this. I want to make music that moves people’s emotions.” At that age, I really knew that I wanted to be a songwriter when I was nine. I didn’t know how to or where or what or how to begin. It was just an urge, this feeling that this is what I want to do and I made up in my mind then that I was going to do it no matter what or no matter how long it took me to do it.
Emily: Wow, at nine years old?
Poo Bear: Yup, at nine. Then the tornado came. Our home was thrown out. The church raised money for my mom and we moved to Atlanta. Atlanta was such an inspiring city in the early ‘90s. It was like the new New York of the south. It was like everybody is coming out to Atlanta. It was so inspiring to be able to see musicians go from nothing to being famous. Just watching it was really inspiring in Atlanta. So that really helped a lot, just being in that environment and seeing that you could go from nothing to something and it was reality. It wasn’t just a dream. I was actually seeing people become famous from that work. I could actually see it. It’s like to me, that’s more inspiring than anything in the world, to actually have an example of somebody succeeding. It just gives you that much hope. It gives you that much more hope and insight that you could really do it too.
Emily: So who would you say inspired you the most in the music world? As a coach, I teach that its always important to surround yourself with positive, like-minded people, but also to have those who drive you, that inspire you with their life story. Who has inspired you to build your life and career up to those higher levels?
Poo Bear: I would just have to say that Stevie Wonder really inspired me to really just want to be great and just not settle for less. I have worked with Stevie Wonder before, but at the same time, he was the reason why I even had the drive and the ambitious attitude today. It was because of his music and I really wanted to make music that was on Stevie Wonder’s level. Yeah, just listening to him when I was really young and say, “I really want to make music that’s on this level.” It took me a while, but I finally made it to a level to where I felt like – you know, I’ve heard Stevie Wonder sing my songs before and to really appreciate my music. So now it’s like a blessing just to see it comes full circle for me to work with him in the studio. We tell him like one more time. It was crazy just to go from being inspired by him to actually working with Stevie Wonder and kind of telling him what to do So I would have to say that Stevie is my one biggest inspiration.
Emily: That’s amazing! You mentioned before that when you were nine years old, you knew your purpose, which was to work in music because of how inspired you felt by Stevie Wonder. A lot of artists, they have that gift within them, but they give it up. Time passes and there are obstacles and they give it up. But it just sounds like you knew it at a very young age and you just kept to that channel until you became golden.
Poo Bear: Head on. Yeah, head on. It just felt like I was supposed to do it. I almost felt like I didn’t have an option when I was younger. It was weird. (Laughs)
Emily: Because you knew your calling.
Poo Bear: You know what, a lot of people have back-up plans and all that stuff. I never really took that time to say, “Okay, what if music doesn’t work for me, what am I going to do?” I never had that in my mind. I always had it in my mind that I was going to be okay and that one day, I was going to be a part of this industry in a major way. It was just a lot of ambition to it.
Emily: I can see also a lot of vision!
Poo Bear: Yeah, vision and my mom. You know when you’re a kid, some parents could either build your dreams or knock you really down.
Emily: They can make you or break you.
Poo Bear: My mother really inspired me. She made me feel like I could do it. Even when I couldn’t sing, my mother made me feel like I could sing. And before I even learned to really maneuver musically, my mom made me feel like I could do it. I have to give her – I have to thank my mom for just giving me that, for believing in me and making me feel like I could do anything I want to do, you know?
Emily: Yeah, they say environment is everything…and who’s around you to support you definitely. Your parents are so important.
Poo Bear: Yeah. My mother was there. My father was there. My mother really helped out.
Emily: That’s so great to hear about.. So you worked with a lot of very successful people. What is it really like to work with a famous music artist? You worked with P. Diddy. You worked with Justin Bieber. You worked with Patti Labelle, Faith Evans.
Poo Bear: It’s always an experience working with different artists. I’ll say it’s a blessing. Definitely, there’s different levels to this industry. I was just blessed enough to start off at a really young age. I know people hear this all the time, but it’s true. My cousin discovered 112, the R&B group when I was 15 years old. My cousin basically told me, “Hey, you could make money writing songs.” I’m like, “No way!” because I was just writing songs for the love of it. He’s like, “I’m going to put you with 112 and if they like you, you write for them some great music, then maybe they’ll keep writing with you.” My cousin put me with 112 and then the rest was history. I wrote “Anywhere,” “Peaches n’ Cream.” I wrote all that hit. So that was another thing. My cousin is really, really who you know. It’s really true. It’s about relationships. You can be really talented and not have anybody to work with or nobody will ever know that you’re talented. To work with these artists that I work with, I know that it came from my talent, but it also came from the opportunity that my cousin gave me when I was a kid.
Emily: And that was also in Atlanta too because everything happens for a reason.
Poo Bear: Yeah, if it wasn’t for the tornado, then I would have never moved to Atlanta. Atlanta was the turning point of my life. We were homeless for ten months and then we had to move to Atlanta. My grandmother was there and then it just happened to be the new mecca of the south. And so once again, I don’t think it would’ve been the same, my life would be the same if I grew up in Connecticut, you know?
Poo Bear: So the fact that I grew up in Atlanta, it allowed me to really be in that environment and really grow properly. And insofar as Connecticut, there’s no music in Connecticut.
Emily: There we go! Everything happens for a reason…
Poo Bear: Yeah, a hundred percent.
Emily: …It’s kind of like stepping stones. You trust your instincts, you start connecting with the right people, you do what you love, you’re passionate about it, you make yourself excellent in everything that you do and then boom, boom, boom…
Poo Bear: Yup! Boom, boom, boom – exactly!
Emily: And that’s it! That’s it. You start really getting to a higher level. So what do you think is the biggest downfall of working in the industry?
Poo Bear: The biggest downfall I believe is just dealing with labels. Right now, I just feel like labels don’t believe in artist development anymore. I just feel like everything is so microwaveable, everything is so instant. And it’s cool, but for me, I want to make music that lasts forever. The biggest problem I have right now with the industry – of course, there’s always going to be followers and leaders, but I feel like they’re more followers than ever right now. I also feel like that the record labels, if they buy into something and it’s not working immediately, you drop it and they turn their backs on these projects and these artists that are rising.
Emily: …When they had a lot of potential too…They just need a little bit more to climb…
Poo Bear: Yeah. It’s just like music is suffering because these labels, they want instant gratification. If they meet an artist and they put this record out and it doesn’t connect with the people, then they’ll let it go. Back in the day, they built artists up. If it didn’t work the first time, they just kept building their fan base, yeah. I feel like right now, that’s a lost craft. It’s just like now, as an artist or a musician, you have to come into this game basically at the top of it to be respected and appreciated. It’s just making it harder for artists and musicians to really grow because everything is so ‘here today, gone tomorrow’. Before, it was like you put something out and if it didn’t work, you would build the fan base and you would build it up. Now it’s just suffering because they expect all these songs to come out and it just blow up; if it doesn’t, and they just write it off. I just feel like the industry is hurting because the creative process has been lost. The effort and the hard work and the energy you put into it to be great, it is down to a minimum because people in these labels, they don’t really care about that. They just care about what they feel like is a hit and what’s going to work for them now, not what’s going to work forever. I feel like music used to be more about.
Emily: … It’s about being timeless. Good music is good music!
Poo Bear: …Being timeless and that’s it. Everything else was irrelevant. Yeah, if the music is good music too. And I think the industry is suffering because there’s a lack of great ears in the business, so they don’t know what great music is anymore. And even though they’re supposed to know as executives, they don’t know and they have to act like they know – and the industry is suffering from it. So thank God for the Internet. Thank God for all the new tools that that exist out there.
Emily: Yeah, indie artists making music, YouTube and all that.
Poo Bear: Yeah! Thank God for those different routes.
Emily: Yeah, people are amazing, people are doing their own thing! Thank you for sharing so much incredible info so far for our fans. Now, my final question – this is a fun question – if you could magically design your own music artist from the look, personality, work style, their sound, what would they look like?
Poo Bear: Oh, wow!
Emily: Would it be a female? Would it be a male? Would it be…?
Poo Bear: Yeah, you know what it is? Right now, right now, I feel like I miss female artists. I feel like male artists have been – there’s been all these different phases in the industry. Yeah, I remember in the early 2000s, it was a phase of nothing but girls. There was Britney Spears, Beyonce and Christina Aguilera.
Emily: Britney Spears, yeah, I remember those days!
Poo Bear: Everybody, and those “American Idol” girls. And then now it’s more male-dominated now. I personally would like to hear like a new Alanis Morissette meets Celine Dion – like Celine Dion crossed with Alanis Morisette crossed with – hmmm, I would have to say crossed with even a splash of Pink. I would just like to see a female artist come out like that. Their voice is unique. Their energy is incredible. I just feel like we’re missing a female artist right now that’s… … a super power. Yeah, that’s what I feel like is missing right now. I would combine Alanis Morissette with Pink with Celine Dion. And even a hint of Michael Jackson in there for super lifestyle power – and mystique. Back in the day, artists, superstars, they were mysterious. You didn’t really know where – that’s what made a superstar. A superstar, they were so special and unique. They were also mysterious. There’s so much that you didn’t know about Michael Jackson. So I would throw Michael in there too just for super power quality.
Emily: I love that! Do you think there’s a little bit of overexposure now of music artists nowadays?
Poo Bear: Yeah. With all the YouTube and all that stuff, definitely. Everybody says that they can sing. everybody says that they have talent. All the talent shows – America’s Got Talent, American Idol, X-Factor – everything is designed to feed human being’s egos and make them feel like they’re really better than what they are. So yes, there’s always pros and cons to everything and that is one of the cons to overexposure. YouTube, everybody in there now is going like they have talent. Everybody says like they’re a star. That would definitely be the con to having that many different sources of out – you know, different ways to get your material out there.
Emily: I completely agree! What would you say is your final piece of advice that you would give to any young artist that are trying to make it in the business whether they’re starting off or they’re mid-level?
Poo Bear: Starting off, I would just say that I would find something that you love and that you want to do. I would say hone in on a sound or a style that you love, that you want to do if you’re breaking into it and master it. I would say just take your time out to perfect. And listen to constructive criticism. Don’t take it to heart. Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeves. Listen to that so that you can grow and evolve. A lot of people want to come out and be artists or entertainers or musicians. Well, it’s really not as easy as it looks. And on top of that, you’ve got to really just master your craft. I feel like a lot of people – like we just said with YouTube and all that, it allows people to really assume they’re already stars or they’re really talented. But really, you should master your craft and get constructive criticism and just be great at whatever it is you’re trying to do and you’ve got to accept greatness. Don’t accept anything other than greatness.
Emily: And perseverance, prayer, patience and persistence?
Poo Bear: Prayer, patience and persistence equals perseverance. You never know what you can do, but you’ve got to try. You’ll never know what you can do if you don’t try. The first step is trying.. And then once you tried and if you feel like you want to do it, then you just perfect it and that’s it. Perfect it. Trial-and-error. That’s how I got to this point in my life, trial-and-error. Just doing a bunch of whack music that nobody ever heard to get it all out of my system and then to know like, “Oh, that’s garbage. Oh, that doesn’t work” just so I can know so I can know not what to do. It only comes from trial-and-error. So that would sum it up.