After spending the better part of a decade stuck in a prolonged legal battle with her record label, JoJo made her triumphant return to pop music earlier this year with not one but threesingles—a tringle, as she dubbed it. Now, she’s following up the dance-heavy clip for “When Love Hurts” with a video for the tringle’s most affecting song, the supercharged ballad “Say Love,” over at BuzzFeed.
“It’s based what my girlfriend was going through,” JoJo told TIME earlier this yearabout the track’s meaning. “She was the first to tell her eventual boyfriend that she loved him. She put herself out there and made herself vulnerable. He was saying all the other right things but was maybe afraid to say ‘I love you’ back. Now they’re together and everything’s great—they’re madly in love! There is a happy ending!—but it’s a call to action. At a certain point, she had to demand more.”
First out of the gate on Aug. 14 was Fifth Harmony’s catchy “I’m in Love With a Monster,” the theme song for the upcoming animated sequel Hotel Transylvania 2(Sept. 25). The song rises 35-22 on the Billboard + Twitter Top Tracks chart dated Sept. 12. Then JoJo signaled her long-awaited return with the simultaneous release of three singles on Aug. 21. The singer/songwriter’s “tringle” includes Samuels’ “Say Love,” which debuts at No. 34 on Billboard’s Pop Digital Songs chart dated Sept. 12. (In the exclusive video below, watch the pair get emotional in the studio while recording the power ballad.) The busy producer is also executive-producing Sykes’ forthcoming solo debut album after his exit from The Wanted.
You might not know his face, but you most certainly know his music! British born and raised, Harmony Samuels, whose sounds transcends multiple genres, R&B (Ciara, Tamar Braxton), pop (Fifth Harmony, Ariana Grande) gospel (Michelle Williams) etc., is one of the industry’s quiet giants! His impeccable sound is refreshing and modern, while at the same time, evokes memories and senses of old school R&B. You could argue, that he is single handedly keeping the genre alive and here in an exclusive interview with the IMC Magazine, he share’s his top tips and advise on what it takes to make it as a successful songwriter/ producer and how to stay ahead of the curb.
IMC: As a Londoner born and raised in England, how would you compare the music industry in the UK compared to the States? H: The music industry in the U.S. is more aggressive and actually has more opportunity. Although I feel the UK is more open to different genres of music and mixing those genres up. Lately, I’ve noticed the UK and U.S. are collaborating more and labels are working together for a global approach.
IMC: How often do you go back home? H: I visit maybe twice a year if possible.
IMC: You’ve been practicing music since aged four. What is your favorite instrument to play and why? H: I don’t have a favorite because it changes week by week. Sometimes I love the piano and other times my bass is my everything… Other days I just want to drum all day. So, I will say music is my favorite instrument.
IMC: When was your first break into the industry and what made you feel like you “made it?” H: I think my first big moment was with Chris Brown and a UK rapper named Chipmunk. We did a song called “Champion.” It had never been done to the standard that we did it in the UK. This was my first time working with Chris Brown and it was his first time expressing what was going on in his life. It was a big moment for me and we charted no.2 in the UK. It sold a high volume of singles; I believe we went platinum with it!
IMC: Who was your first major placement with in the US, and what was it working with them? H: Maroon 5! We wrote a song called “No Curtain Call” on the 2011 Hands All Over album. I was very pleased with this achievement and I knew I was supposed to do it, lol.
IMC: You make hit after hit. Do you have any tips for up and coming songwriters? H: Write memorable melodies that make people feel something or remember something. And make sure the lyrics are relatable to your time, city, country, the world or just your heart. People want the truth and want to feel something.
IMC: You will be a panelist at the International Music Conference 2015 for the first time. Why do you think it is important for up and coming musicians to come to conferences such as this? H: Education! It’s free education on a music industry that has no course or books that can explain the ins and the outs of it all. Only life experience educates you so this is what individuals will get from attending, especially the panel that I will be featured on. Lol. Click here for a description on the panels Harmony will be featured on during The International Music Conference Atlanta.
IMC: The song you wrote for Ariana Grande, The Way was a massive hit, which catapulted her into the spotlight as a serious pop artist. During your writing process, did you know you had a major international hit on your hands? H: I knew it was a great record…. Did I know it was gonna be great for Ariana? NOPE, not at all. The song wasn’t even for her, it was for Jordin Sparks but someway somehow it fell into Ariana’s lap and well, the rest is history. It was a defining moment for Ariana.
IMC: How does it feel to have labels come to you for not only one song, but for the majority of the songs on an album? H: They always come for one, but it’s the artist that ends up wanting more because the first one was so good.
IMC: What projects are you working on now? H: Working with a few projects from Mali Music, Fifth Harmony, JoJo, Nathan Sykes, to name a few; all from different genres which I’m so excited about.
Harmony and Nathan Sykes
MC: If you could tell an unsigned artist one thing, what would that be? H: Stay true to your gift if you really have one. Make sure you are original and not a copy of anyone else out there right now. It’s okay to be inspired by people, but not a carbon copy. Keep it fresh, new, exciting and original.