As far as pure songwriting goes, many people tend to ignore the contributions of artists who are responsible for modern genres such as hip-hop and house music. But there’s no denying the cultural and financial impacts of these art forms, or of the influence of people who have mastered a music that has found its way into other genres, however unlikely (think the turntable scratching on Montgomery Gentry’s “If You Ever Stop Loving Me”). One successful writer in this field, who now has her own deal as an artist on Capitol Records, is Los Angeles native NiRe (ny-RAY) Alldai.
While Alldai may be best known for her original hip-hop/dance hit “Shut Up and Party,” she is a behind-the-scenes player in Los Angeles, where she is signed as a writer with Warner-Chappell Music Publishing. Her songs have been cut by Demi Lovato (“All Night Long”), Mary J. Blige protégé Starshell (“Superluva”), Russian producer/DJ Sergio Galoyan (“Everything”), and others, and she has worked in the studio with such names as Fernando Garibay (U2) and Grammy-winner Timbaland (Justin Timberlake, Madonna). American Songwriter caught up with Alldai in between writing and recording sessions for her upcoming album for a few questions.
Your song “Shut Up and Party” is all over the Internet, specifically on YouTube, in what are obviously fan-created videos, with the song supposedly being sung by Britney Spears, Ke$ha and Miley Cyrus, but it’s really you singing. Have you taken any kind of action to get these videos removed?
To be honest at first it was all very flattering. I’m not really quite sure how it even got to this level but it’s sorta cool to me. But to answer your question, yes, the label has begun taking action on these. But there are so many, it’s sort of a process.
Your music runs the gamut from hip-hop and house, which are traditionally male-dominated genres, to pop and dance. Who are some of the artists that influenced you?
I’ve always been influenced by artists who are unique and managed to, in one way or another, break the rules, bring something new to the game and most importantly had something to express to the world. I’ve always been attracted to Madonna’s badassery. I love Outkast’s and Missy Elliot’s originality. I’ve always admired Mariah Carey’s ability to be both a long lasting artist as well as a strong songwriter. I want to spread love the way Bob Marley did. I respect Beyonce’s work ethic. I adore Ella Fitzgerald’s voice. I’ve always been by inspired Eminem and Busta Rhymes’ skillful flow. And the list goes on and on. All these people have definitely influenced and strengthened me as an artist.
You’ve been working with DJ Max Methods, who’s done a lot of popular dance remixes to hot top 40 records, and Timbaland played a role in your getting signed to Warner-Chappell. What special quality do you think you have that attracted them, and Capitol Records, to you?
Max is an incredibly talented producer and we have a great chemistry that mixes my uniqueness with his club music background that you’ll get to hear plenty of on the album. The end result is appealing pop records with an interesting and unusual twist. When I began working with Timbaland I think he was very impressed and attracted to that same originality that shines through on radio friendly pop records. And I would definitely say that was also the same strong attraction that Capitol had to me, thank goodness!
Dance music and hip-hop may not be around forever, though they may mutate into something else they way rock ‘n’ roll has, but you may not be involved in that type of music when you’re 50. Where do you see yourself going in the future as a writer and an artist?
I’ve always been a lover of all great music, which helps me to pull from an array of influences and inspiration while I’m writing. I like to learn the rues of different genres. That way it never matters what genre I’m writing as long as I understand the corresponding songwriting etiquette. This album is definitely (going to be) pop/house/urban driven, but it’s only a slim slice of my personality. I guarantee in future albums I’ll be testing my own boundaries and introducing my audience to new sounds, but always with a very familiar pop sensibility so that I don’t abandon my fans. It really just depends on what’s in my heart at the moment, and where music has grown to at the given time. I’m never afraid of change.
You’ve had cuts by some well-known artists, and even though you have your own deal now, who would you still like to get a cut on even if you couldn’t sing on the record yourself?
I absolutely love the craft of songwriting. I love to challenge myself to write any kind of song, even songs that aren’t in my personal style because it could be a perfect match for another amazing artist. I admire Babyface, Stevie Wonder & R Kelly a lot for being great artists that were known for writing incredible songs for other artists.
You’re a Los Angeles native so you probably aren’t quite as fazed by things like the Grammy Awards or seeing the big Capitol Records building in Hollywood as some of us. But what advice would you give someone today who is just getting off the bus in L.A. with hopes of a deal as a writer, an artist, or both?
To be honest, as an L.A. native I’m actually geeked about being signed as a recording artist at the most notorious of L.A. landmarks! There’s so much history in the Capitol building it’s unreal! My advice to share with those who are just beginning would be that originality, focus and consistency are key. There are hundreds of thousands of people who are pursuing the same career. What makes you different? Chances are you will get your hopes up plenty of times before landing something solid, so the best plan is to always set out to outdo yourself. Even if you think you created the million dollar song that will make you rich, keep going and totally forget about that one amazing song. Chances are you’ll surprise yourself and end up pushing yourself to new heights you never imagined. And then after that do it all over again!