The Writer’s Block: Poo Bear Shares Songwriting Advice and More

Producer, entrepreneur and songwriter, Poo Bear, born Jason Boyd, has penned some of the most iconic songs of the past decade, including Justin Bieber’s “Where R Ü Now,” “What Do You Mean?” “Intentions,” Bieber’s portion of the “Despacito” remix, and countless more.

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An Atlanta native (via Connecticut), Poo Bear began his career in high school with songs for the R&B group 112. He later followed those up with songs, “Love is Such a Crazy Thing” for P!nk, “Caught Up” for Usher, “8th Grade” for Mariah Carey, and Dan + Shay’s “10,000 Hours.”

In June of 2021, the artist released his new single The Day You Left, co-written with Nabeel Y. Zahid and co-produced by himself, Skrillex, and Sasha Sirota, followed by the release of Distant Shore” in October.

”’The Day You Left’ is the perfect balance between pain and joy and consistent selfishness and selflessness.” Poo Bear says. “It embodies the true meaning of a bittersweet loss. HBD!”

Earlier this year Poo Bear announced a joint venture agreement with Def Jam Recordings, a sub-label of Universal Music Group, for his label Bearthday Music. His catalog includes sales of over 350 million records worldwide, dozens of multi-platinum certifications, and 100 billion streams and counting, as well as two Grammy nominations.

Poo Bear chatted with American Songwriter about his start in songwriting, his songwriting inspirations, and his advice for aspiring writers.

American Songwriter: How did you get started in songwriting?

Poo Bear: I got started in songwriting by writing poetry back when I was 11 years old. When I first moved to Atlanta, Georgia, I was writing poetry, and I started putting together kids’ groups. At the time we didn’t have anyone to help us with our music so by the time I was 12 years old I was writing & producing everything we did. No one was going to do it for us, so I started doing it.

AS: What inspires you? How do you find song ideas? 

PB: I am inspired by great, undeniable music that is truly unique. That makes me want to create, hearing amazing music makes me want to get into the studio to create something even better. As for my song ideas, they can come from anywhere. Whether they are from daily conversations to billboards, movies, or commercials, I get great concepts for songs from everything all around me. 

AS: Have you ever experienced writer’s block and how did you get past it?

PB: I’ve never experienced writer’s block because I know that not everything I create, I am going to love. Whether I love something or not, I know I have to just get it out. I think writer’s block comes from insecurities and I don’t believe in that. I have to get something out every day, no matter if I end up loving the song or not. 

AS: When writing with, or for, someone else how do you enter their story? 

PB: Usually having a conversation with the artist to see where they are in their relationships if they are sad, depressed, happy, etc., is the best way for me to enter their story.  It always plays a factor in the direction of the song I am writing with or for them. The other thing I do is listen to their music to see where they are at emotionally and to not duplicate or replicate ideas or concepts that they have done previously. 

AS: What do you love most about songwriting?

PB: I love the fact that it never gets old. It still touches people and gives them butterflies. Knowing I can write melodies that will outlive the artist who performs them is amazing. I love being a part of the most important part of the music, which is the song itself. When people have a song stuck in their head or hum along to a song it’s not the beat that stays with them, but the melody and that’s what I love most about songwriting. 

AS: What is the best piece of songwriting advice you can give to aspiring songwriters? 

PB: Just to be brutally honest as a songwriter. A lot of songwriters feel like everything they write is amazing and I think it’s important to realize not everything you write is going to be great. It’s also important not to surround yourself with “yes men”, but with people who will give you honest criticism. That is the only way to grow as a writer and become better. I would also say listen to the radio to see if the music you are creating is on the same level as what you hear. If you are brutally honest with yourself as a writer and understand not everything you write is going to be amazing, you will be able to keep growing.

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