The Writing Camp is an up and coming songwriting team which consists of members Evan "Kidd" Bogart, Erika Nuri, and David "DQ" Quinones. Their first hit placement was in the shape of Brandy Norwood's latest single "Right Here (Departed)", helmed by Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins.
In addition to working with producers Soulshock & Karlin, Jack Splash, Bloodshy & Avant, Lukasz "Dr. Luke" Gottwald and Jonathan "J.R." Rotem, the talented trio is also confirmed contributors on the next projects by Beyonce Knowles [Music World Entertainment / Columbia Records], Christina Milian [Interscope / MySpace Records] and Hilary Duff [Hollywood Records].
Hamada of Monica Mania Music Blog caught up with TWC to talk about their forthcoming projects, working with various producers, the difference between crafting Pop and R&B songs, the reason behind Victoria "Lady-V" Horn's departure from the team, whether they're planning to add more campers, and so much more …
Hamada: - Tell us about how the Writing Camp was formed?
David "DQ" Quinones: - It started when I got asked to demo a song that Evan wrote with Jonathan "J.R." Rotem. Their engineer Greg Ogan and I went to Berklee College of Music together. He recommended me to them. He was also telling Evan about me as a writer, so after I demoed the song, Evan said we should write sometime. About a month later we wrote our first song together and never looked back.
Few months later we took over JR studio at Chalice while he was out of town cutting with Menudo and we decided to have a "Writing Camp" for a week there. We invited all sorts of writers saying come whenever, no egos involved, let's just have fun. We had so much fun and were so productive that week that Evan and I said "Writing should be like this every day", so we decided to start "The Writing Camp" (TWC). About a month or so later (in October 2007), Evan started writing with Victoria Horn and I started writing with Erika Nuri.
Hamada: - Describe your songwriting style? And which songs are harder to craft, Pop or R&B?
David "DQ" Quinones: - We are all different! Erika comes from 15 years experience in writing and learning from some of my idols even. If I had to pick a strength point, it would be her ability to write what she feels and catch a vibe (no matter the style). "When we write a song, does it read well as a story?" is one of the many things she always asks when we're finished. She always has an answer to why she does what she does (which to me is important in a songwriter and mentor).
Erika Nuri: - Definitely! My songwriting style is best described as "Less is More". I like writing simple catchy hooks and spacey verses. I believe a track should breathe. I think POP songs are harder to craft because you don't have to follow a formula. POP songs don't have boundaries, but R&B songs do. There are lots of concepts that work for POP, but not for R&B.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - I consider myself 90's hip-hop meets 80's pop mixed with modern and classic writing techniques ... I just fuckin' love De La Soul and Depeche Mode ... can you blame me?
DQ: - and Myself? Well ... I am a ballad, mid sucker! My strength lies in melodies and vocal production. I come from being classically trained and then going to Berklee College of Music (contemporary music mainly). So I try and mix styles together and see how it works (adding operatic backgrounds to a song or R&B harmonies on a county type record). I have gotten a lot of what I do now by learning from Evan and Erika (probably more than they even realize). I tell them all the time that I feel blessed that they want to write with me every day.
Hamada: - What differentiates the Writing Camp from other songwriting teams?
Erika Nuri: - I think that TWC is different because of our diverse backgrounds in music, and the fact that we all grew up in different states. Me in New York, Evan in LA, DQ in the DC area.
David "DQ" Quinones: - And therefore we can write pretty much any style. We spend time thinking, researching, whom are we shooting for (would they sing that? If maybe not, do we have an alternate lyric to pitch them as well?). I also think because of our different backgrounds, we have no choice but to sound different than other teams.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - We represent different passions, influences, desires and stylistic strengths and weaknesses, but together we're a cohesive writing juggernaut with a common pop sensibility. Not to take anything away from other writing crews and teams, this just works for us and allows us to write songs spanning across almost all musical genres.
Hamada: - Word has it that British songwriter Victoria "Lady V" Horn is no longer part of the team. Can you tell us more about the reason for her departure?
Erika Nuri: - Victoria's departure from TWC was amicable. We had creative and business differences about the overall goal of TWC. Victoria wasn't always on the same page with the rest of us. Victoria is an extremely talented songwriter and her contribution to TWC was appreciated.
David "DQ" Quinones: - We love Victoria! We were just at different points of our lives and sometimes it doesn't work out.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Erika and DQ hit it dead on ... V is like a sister to us. We love her and her writing is unmatched. It just felt like sometimes we were walking two roads. There is no one to blame, it's just what it is.
Hamada: - How often do you argue with one another? And do arguments usually yield out better than results?
David "DQ" Quinones: - We never really argue. We do bicker every once in a while. We are like a family, sometimes you work each other's nerves but 95% of the time, everything is great! When we do have issues, we are very open and normally say what needs to be said and then our writing kicks back into gear and we get focused again. It has never stopped us from writing and normally we write great songs after we say what we need to.
Erika Nuri: - They are usually over a creative direction for a song. We are all very passionate about concepts, and making sure that the lyrics make sense. We are like brothers and sisters, so we never take it personally and never stay mad for long.
Hamada: - What can we expect from your work on Christina Milian's upcoming album on Interscope/MySpace Records? And will it be different from what you're offering to her label mate Jordyn Taylor?
David "DQ" Quinones: - They are actually completely different. Christina has been around for a while, and as an artist, she had a direction for this album from the start. She co-wrote a good bit on most of her songs and is very honest about what she would sing, what she wouldn't, and so on. She has cut songs of ours that are great ballads to the pop dance uptempos. Christina demands a great song when you are with her. This album is going to be good for her (it is growing her up without losing her appeal to the young audience).
Jordyn Taylor is a new artist, so with her it has been about finding a direction. She can sing almost anything, so it was more about who is Jordyn? We cut songs at the beginning and end of her project, so we have seen a few different directions. She is eager and so easy to work with. She is not afraid to spend all night cutting a song and trying different ways to make it better. She is one of those artists that you just can't help but love. She is young, fun, and grateful for everything in her life (how can you not love that?)
Erika Nuri: - I think that the songs we did with Milian are definitely a little more sexual than the songs we did with Taylor.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - They are both at different places in their careers too. Christina is making a record that is a culmination of all of her hard work and tireless dedication and I think people are going to be really impressed by her. Jordyn is at the beginning of her career and is looking to establish her image and direction to make a career. I think you have to go about making those records completely differently.
Hamada: - How does it feel to have Brandy's new single, "Right Here (Departed)"? And do you think it's the perfect comeback vehicle regardless of its performance on the charts?
David "DQ" Quinones: - I sure hope it is!!! Brandy is/was a dream come true for me. Brandy and Rodney were people I once said "One day I am going to work with them" as I'm blasting Full Moon. Not ever thinking it might really happen and then we get her first single together. Words can't really describe what I am really feeling (I still don't believe it), and it was TWC's first release as a team, so that is always special.
Erika Nuri: - I am personally a fan of Brandy and it is truly and honor and a blessing to have her first single, especially knowing that so many other great songwriters and producers were gunning for it and are on the album. I do think it's a perfect comeback song for her. A song for her old fans, but also new enough for kids that have never heard her before to gravitate too.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - It's an honor to have Brandy's voice bless your lyrics and melody. I think it's definitely a great comeback song for her, stylistically and conceptually. Although it has definitely been a slower build than most expected, KIIS in LA and Z100 in NY, the top two stations in the country, have just added the song and starting to really give it some airplay, along with Boston, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, San Diego, Miami and other major radio markets. Brandy hasn't had an album out in over 4 years and a successful album in over 6 years. A lot of these kids don't really know her or aren't connected to her like many of her fans used to be. It's like working a new artist.
Hamada: - I'll ask about some of the musicians you worked with, and you tell me about that experience:
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - We weren't in the studio when she cut her vocals but when I heard her performance, on both "Halo" and "Hello", I was floored!! She is brilliant!
Bloodshy & Avant: Christian Karlsson and Pontus Winnberg
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Their tracks speak to my soul. I love their sounds and innovative perspectives.
Erika Nuri: - She's one of the sweetest artists I have ever worked with. She is super fast and is all about conveying the feeling of the song. It was a pleasure to work with her.
David "DQ" Quinones: - Great producer! So much fun in the studio with many different styles, it's unbelievable!
Erika Nuri: - Jack Splash was a lot of fun! We worked with him in Miami. He is one of the most creative people I have ever met.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Jackie-Slims!!! I love Splash ... He is an old friend of mine for over a decade and I am so excited for his success. He has always been this talented!
Midi Mafia: Bruce Waynne & Kevin Risto
Erika Nuri: - Midi Mafia are extremely innovative and are always one step ahead of everyone else. I love working with them.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Bruce and Swift are ridiculously talented.
David "DQ" Quinones: - Incredible producer. Vibe is always great always wants to say something different.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Jim is the shit! Great outlook, and incredible sense of production.
Erika Nuri: - Jim Jonsin was great!!! He is laid back and really cool.
Nate "Danja" Hills:
David 'DQ" Quinones: - His sound is sick!!! He never fails to sonically push the envelope.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Danja is dope! We worked on some records for Beyonce and Britney that didn't end up on either album, but I really loved our dynamic and look forward to doing more work together.
Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins:
David "DQ" Quinones: - He's Rodney!!!! Need I say more! He is one of the few producers that produce a song even from the writing stage. He knows how to get the best song out of everybody.
Erika Nuri: - Rodney Jerkins is one of my favorite producers to work with. He is very involved in the writing process from start to finish. He pushes you to always come with something better.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Rodney is a genius! He is very hands-on and I have learned a lot from working with him.
Hamada: - Which other musicians you'd like to work with if given the opportunity?
Erika Nuri: - Polow Da Don, Bryan Michael Cox and Stargate.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Max Martin, Dr. Luke (again), Mark Ronson and Stargate.
David "DQ" Quinones: - Timbaland, Bryan Michael Cox, Polow Da Don, Babyface … Everybody really!!
Hamada: - Are you planning on adding more members to the team? If so, which songwriters you'd like to affiliate with the Writing Camp?
David "DQ" Quinones: - Not at this time, but if someone fits?
Erika Nuri: - Right now we are not planning on adding any new member to TWC, but we are planning on signing new writers to TWC in the near future.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - We're closing a deal for The Writing Camp Publishing through EMI Music Publishing with Andrew Gould and his team ...We will be adding new writers to the TWC frey through that business venture. But the core three, otherwise known as "The Triforce" of DQ, Erika and I will be the focal nucleus.
Hamada: - Tell us about your exciting forthcoming projects.
Erika Nuri: - Beyonce Knowles, Toni Braxton, Jordyn Taylor, Sean Kingston, Jenna Andrews, and Christina Milian.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - I don't like to speak on projects that are pending -- but we have confirmed releases with Brandy, Beyonce Knowles, Hilary Duff, Varsity Fanclub and Sean Kingston.
David "DQ" Quinones: - Beyonce Knowles, Jordyn Taylor, Jenna Andrews, Christina Milian, and Toni Braxton.
Hamada: - What message you'd like to give to all aspiring songwriters out there?
David "DQ" Quinones: - Keep pushing. Write great songs and they will find a home. Learn as much as you can from everybody.
Erika Nuri: - To never give up, always listen to constructive criticism, and that there is always room to grow and get better as a writer.
Evan "Kidd" Bogart: - Don't be so fucking serious...It's writing songs and that's supposed to be fun!!!
[Visit] The Writing Camp @ MySpace