Naughty Boy - Interview
Interview with Naughty Boy August 2013
Shahid Khan, more commonly known as his producer name Naughty Boy, has been acknowledged for producing some of the most successful artists of the 21st Century, working with acclaimed artists Emeli Sande, Leona Lewis, Ed Sheeran, Chipmunk, JLS and many more.
Naughty Boy rose to fame after winning £44,000 on Deal or No Deal which he used to set up his own recording space before meeting Emeli Sande and setting up Naughty Boy Recordings.
Naughty Boy celebrates the release of his own debut album, Hotel Cabana, featuring guest appearances from Gabrielle, Tinie Tempah, George The Poet, Emeli Sande, and Professor Green.
Naughty Boy talks to us about The Hotel concept, the music industry and what it's like to collaborate with so many inspiring artists.
CM: Hi Naughty Boy, how are you?
Naughty Boy: I'm good, how are you doing?
CM: Good thank you. Thanks very much for taking the time to do this. After producing multiple artists, Hotel Cabana is your own album, what can people expect from it?
Naughty Boy: I don't think they should expect anything. If they liked 'Lifted', if they liked 'La La La' then they'll like the album. The whole thing with my album is I want people to be comfortable; I don't want them to expect anything but to just go in! I'm not trying to create a certain sound but I'm trying to bring people into my world so that each song has its own identity and a subplot of a story. It's not another normal album.
CM: The album is called Hotel Cabana. Has your studio felt like a Hotel with the amount of artists you have collaborated with?
Naughty Boy: That is how the initial idea began. Once I'd done Emeli's album, I got a lot of people wanting to work with me so it started to feel like a hotel. Everybody is different and it's an interesting experience and that's what hotels are like. I used to work in a luxury hotel and I saw this whole different world. Five star hotels do have a different vibe; the staff, the guests and everything.
I felt like I had the opportunity to make the album as a producer so I should make it more interesting by using this theme of a luxury hotel because that's almost what fame and the music industry feels like. You're here but how long can you really afford to stay?
CM: How did the collaborations form - did the artists approach you?
Naughty Boy: I knew who I wanted on there and luckily I didn't have anybody say "No" which is good because it shows there is mutual respect between me and the artist. Everybody was pretty excited about the hotel theme. When you give artists something exciting to talk about and an opportunity to be someone else they will love that! I always wanted to make it feel grand! I wanted to have the Gatsby approach, that nothing was average.
That's with every part of it: the advertising, the music, the features I want it to feel like something is bubbling in the UK. I want it to feel big.
CM: You've stated you view the album like you're 'not just a producer - but a director too' - can you explain this statement?
Naughty Boy: When I say director, I mean I know what I want it to feel like. Initially, I didn't want to show my face, I wanted to keep that mystery and make it seem a bit creepy. But it's not; it's glamorous and full of wonder. Obviously, when you have fans, people want to hear your music and they want to see you perform. I'm still not doing many interviews or photos, yet I'm doing enough to have that balance.
CM: In terms of you creating your image and the portrayal of the album, have you been given sufficient creative control?
Naughty Boy: Totally! And to be honest I think they love it as well, and that's so important! Everybody complains about record labels, but I just think if you give them something to be interested in, have fun with and actually be passionate about, they work with you. You can see by the marketing of my album that it's been spot on; it's exactly how I wanted it - there is no compromise. It's a misconception to think it's not possible, because it is. They are a major label but they've treated it like it is an independent project.
CM: You mentioned you wanted to keep you face hidden, was fame not a motive in your music career?
Naughty Boy: No, not at all! Coming into the music industry was scary for me! The age I've come into it, I view fame as a danger especially how much people want it yet not necessarily getting it, because it never lives up to the hype. We need people to come out and not crave it but give people a different perspective. Everybody has got their imagination; they can use it. Music doesn't have to go through the process of 'I'm signed, I'm famous, I'm better then you, I'm special'. Sometimes it can just be about the art and the music and I wanted to be a part of bringing that back.
CM: You said you were originally scared about going into the publicised music industry. You originally studied Business and Marketing, what made you pursue the music industry?
Naughty Boy: I dropped out of the degree and I knew I wanted to be more practical and creative by making music and that's what I did. After going on the game show and winning the money, I set up a studio in my mum and dad's shed and I made music. I made music myself until I met Emeli; she was the first singer I worked with and it happened to work. This was in 2009 and even then I never thought I would be in the industry or I'd be part of it - you never expect success of this kind. It was never in my plan to have my own album as well I just knew; I'm going to make music and I'm going to change music - that was always my intention.
CM: You mentioned changing music, what would you change about the current music industry?
Naughty Boy: Music has been so powerful in previous decades and what it's been able to change and do! I feel like it's not used for that anymore, it's almost like radio would rather play you a club tune when really radio could play anything during the day. I'm still talking about pop music; I'm not talking about trying to be 'too cool'.
It's about what you're saying in music - I want to say more! The songs I do with people, I want them to base it on something real. With Emeli's album I could get my teeth into something - from Heaven to Clown, the songs we wrote - the intention was to say something.
CM: You and Emeli's collaboration has been extremely successful, how did it start?
Naughty Boy: It was 2008 and there was an underground showcase called 'I Love Live' and she performed one song and I was amazed by her! I just said "We should work?" and she agreed.
CM: Since then you've worked with multiple successful artists, if you could collaborate with any artist who you previously haven't worked with, who would it be?
Naughty Boy: Adele.
CM: Interesting. What's very noticeable and impressive about your work is you're incredibly diverse in terms of the artists you work with. Are there any genres or sounds you're daunted by?
Naughty Boy: I can't really do that generic, dance pop. Which has been quite popular lately.
CM: So we're not going to see a One Direction collaboration?
Naughty Boy: I have had the One Direction conversation but I decided not to do it, this time.
CM: Was Naughty Boy a name you were referred to a lot growing up?
Naughty Boy: Not at all. It was like a Superhero, you take a name.
CM: We understand you're very busy so finally, what would you like to see for the future of Naughty Boy?
Naughty Boy: World domination!
CM: Are you not achieving that already?
Naughty Boy: No, I'm not. I'm just getting started! I'm about to go to America to sign with a record label and work with more great artists! I've always been a dreamer and follow an old saying: 'Satisfaction is a death of desire'.
CM: Thanks for talking with us and the best of luck in obtaining world domination!
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