“How BloodPop® Scored A Justin Bieber Collab For His First Single”
By Brendan Klinkenberg for Complex Music
BK: For the Bieber collaborations, so you worked on “Sorry” and did you work on any other tracks from that album? Or was it mainly that track.
BP: Yeah I did “Sorry,” “I’ll Show You,” “Mark My Words,” “Children,” and “Hit the Ground.”
BK: Was that just a thing where you got brought in as a writer? How did you guys get hooked up.
BP: I was invited to the first session by Sonny, and I worked with a writer called Pooh Bear. “Mark My Words” was written the first night, and then it became the first track on the album. Then, a week after, “Sorry” was written with Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter. Then a few weeks later, they were just like, “This is going be one of them,” and two weeks after that it was out. It was so so fast. It all happened within the span of less than two to three months.
BK: Now you’re co-billed on a song with him? How does something like “Friends” happen? What’s the decision making process for you to not be the producer or writer, but be the collaborator?
BP: “Friends” was a demo I had started with Julia and Justin—the same team behind “Sorry.” Since "Sorry” they have become some of my best friends, I love them to death. Justin had heard the demo of “Friends” and he loved it, and he finished it, cut it. Then all of a sudden Bieber is on it and the whole song done.
As the demo form, I was going to just put it out as BloodPop® as a part of a record that I had been working on for the last year, year and a couple months, which is all songs with featured artists. Again, that came together very quickly. The art hadn’t even been done before he heard it. The birds and the worm.
BK: I was also going to ask about the smiley-face motif. I’d missed that the worm was smiling, the first time I saw it.
BP: He’s having a great time. It points back to my goals of positivity in pop music. It’s two birds fighting over this, like, gummy worm. And the gummy worm is just chilling, “It’s going to be fine, and I’m having a great time.” And the hook is, “Can we be friends?”
BK: When Justin Bieber decides to hop on a song that you plan to be yours, is there ever a conversation where someone asks if it could, or should, be just a Justin Bieber song?
BP: Yeah, that will always happen. I think historically and even right now, every production song that’s out right now with features, or as a collaboration with another artist, the artist definitely just asks if, you know, it can just be one artist. I feel like that is just how it goes for every collaboration.
BK: Do you just ask Justin Bieber’s team, or the label and say "Hey, I want this to be mine as well?”
BP: Well, yeah. Without getting into the business of it—all those things are just so overly complicated, I stay as far away as I can and try to make it sound good. I try to keep my head out of the business end.
BK: What’s it like working with Justin Bieber, do you work in the studio together or is does he just hear these reference tracks and they pick what they want to jump on and you hear the finished version?
BP: It’s kind of a mixed bag, he writes sometimes. Sometimes he cuts it fast, sometimes he’ll cut it in a month. A lot of the Purpose stuff, he was in the room. And then this, I had missed some, because I was in Japan while he was here.
BK: What’s he like in the studio?
BP: He gets right to business, and he knows exactly how to approach a singing style for whatever the vibe of the song is. He’ll just knock it out of the park. Especially on Purpose, it’s weird because you’ll hear a demo or something, and then he sings it, then you’re like, “Oh, wow, that’s a hit.” He can really fucking sing.
BK: I hear Bieber likes to rap a lot, and I’ve heard a couple songs where he’s rapping. Is that something you’ve ever heard him do while working together?
BP: There was one night where I think he rapped, like, 100 bars over a beat. Just totally freestyled. It was great, it was a good night. The beat never ended up getting used, but it’s somewhere, I think it’s like a 20-minute song.