Ne-Yo conducted by Hugo Lunny  

Ne-Yo: So Sick of Love Songs

November 2005

It's hard to believe what people can accomplish given the right surroundings. Ne-Yo is at a level most of us will only dream of. Having penned, and still writing hits for some of today's biggest musical names, the man is concentrating on applying the finishing touches to his own debut which has reportedly had over 300 songs recorded for it. Ne-Yo is currently on tour with John Legend and will be releasing his debut "In My Own Words" at the end of December.

MVRemix: How do you stay creative while remaining on the subject of love and romance?

Ne-Yo: There's really no exact way that I do it, it's just I have a very vivid imagination and I have a lot of colourful characters in my life. So there's always somethin' to write about; be it somethin' that I've gone through, be it somethin' that a friend of mine was telling me about... Me being who I am, I can find an object in the room or a magazine and write an entire story or song behind that word or that object, and turn that into a song. Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere.

MVRemix: Which was your favourite Matrix movie?

Ne-Yo:The first one.

MVRemix: You didn't like number three did you?

Ne-Yo: I hated number three actually. It's like they got worse as they went. Number one was the absolute best; number two was okay, number three sucked to me.

MVRemix: You recently collaborated with Remy Martin of the Terror Squad - can you tell me about how that came about and how it went?

Ne-Yo: I'm not exactly sure how we got hooked up - it was through her people and my people... We're moving around a lot out here in New York and the name is getting out there. So I'm guessing we contacted them or they contacted us and us artists - they don't really let us know too much about what goes on behind the scenes or how stuff gets hooked up. All I know is that I met with her in the studio. She's one of the coolest people I've ever met and it was a very, very pleasurable experience being able to work with her.

MVRemix: Can you describe to me your stage show, I've heard it's like a musical...

Ne-Yo: My stage show... Yeah, I do dance but I didn't want dancing to be the main focal point of my show because I'm a songwriter first. So I want you to actually listen to the song, listen to the words - pay attention to the song. It's kind of hard to do that when I'm turning dance moves and doing all crazy flips like, "Ah, that was the best move! What was the song about?" I didn't want to do that. So I found a way to incorporate a little bit of the dance in, but make people really pay attention to the song and the story behind the song by taking a good three-four of my songs and just stringing them all together as a short story. So yeah the stage show, it's kind of a play.

MVRemix: How often do you write? Is it forced, or is it mainly taken from previously written material after emotionally intense moments?

Ne-Yo: I write pretty much every single day. Every day I write. Like I said, inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere. As long as I'm livin', as long as there's people on this earth, there's always gonna be somethin' to write about. I've never really found myself having to recycle songs or recycle topics. But, being that the English language is so vast, there's so many different ways to say the same thing - so there's always a song to be written.

MVRemix: You say you want to write music that inspires emotion, which are some of your favourite tracks of that sort which effect you every time you hear them?

Ne-Yo: Wow. Pretty much every song that Prince has ever done. But one song in particular that I can never find are "Joy and Repitition," it's off the "Graffiti Bridge" soundtrack. The song, and you know to this day I can't really tell you what it's about but it's just the way that the song is put together, the chords that are used, the melodies that he decided to go with... It's just one of those songs where you don't even have to know what it's about. You feel it as soon as it comes on. It triggers something. That song personifies everything that I try to do in my music.

Again, pretty much everything Stevie Wonder has ever put out. Stevie Wonder is a person that's so in tune with the other side of this whole writing thing being that he can't so. His vibe can't be corrupted by a visual; he's all feel, he's all emotion. That comes through so vivid in his music. So yeah, pretty much everything he's ever done.

There's a song by Billy Ocean that I just got re-introduced to, I remember it was one of my favourite songs as a kid - it used to make me cry and I never understood why I was crying... It's called "Suddenly," I don't know if you're familiar with that song.

MVRemix: No, I haven't heard it before.

Ne-Yo: You should look that one up, it's a really, really good one. What else? Let me see... What else, what else... what else... Michael Jackson, "Lady Of My Life." Michael Jackson's "She's Out Of My Life." There's a billion, billion different songs right now - basically anything that came out around late 70's. All that music was pure emotion. It all came from a place where it wasn't about "Let me make this song, it's gonna make me the most money right now." The music scene was genuine back then.

MVRemix: How do you feel about having other people that you've written for being more credited and recognized for your words than you?

Ne-Yo: I don't mind that at all because I know I wrote the song, they know I wrote the song - it's just that the world doesn't know that yet. That doesn't bother me. As long as the world hears that song and likes it, it's just like it's me up there accepting that award for whatever - it's the same thing to me.

MVRemix: Due to your passion for writing - what are your thoughts on manufactured groups and artists?

Ne-Yo: That, um... Ah... Like I say, a lot of people that do music today - a lot of the acts that are out today are out because somebody behind the scenes is trying to make some money. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with making money, hell, you need it to live... But, this is art! When you throw something as practical as money into something as emotional as art, it kills it. You can hear it in the music when you get these manufactured groups and you throw a pound of auto-tune on their voice so they sound halfway decent and you throw that out on the radio. I mean we've got to a point as consumers where we don't even mind. That's a little depressing to me, there's songs out right now and I'm like, "Is this where music is going? God, I might as well hang it up." I can't do that. I can't write a song for money. I can't do that. The fact that I make money off the songs that I write, that's a fringe benefit. I don't write songs for the money. I know that if I stay true to my soul with the music that I'm doing then people are gonna recognize that. People are gonna relate to that and the money will come eventually but that should not be the motivating factor as to why you do music.

MVRemix: From your material, it appears that when in a relationship, you try to make it work. What is it that drives you to actually end things when the time comes?

Ne-Yo: That's an interesting question. I'm trying to find a politically correct way to answer this question. You know what? Honestly, that point comes when... A relationship is 50/50, there's give and take. When one person is doing more giving and the other person is doing more taking, and you try to make it work and it's not computing like "Look, you're not contributing as much to this relationship as I am" then you've got to break it up. I'm not the type of person that's gonna stick around in a relationship when I'm uncomfortable. I'm not the type of person that's gonna stick around in a relationship because I feel sorry for that person. Though I have been before, that's why I'm not that person now because I've learned from that experience.

If you stick with somebody that you know you don't want to be with because you hate to see her cry or you're afraid of what she might do if you leave her because you're her support system. If you stick with that person, you're gonna end up resenting that person and it's just gonna make matters worse. So it's best to just break it off then when you know that there's absolutely nothing that can be done to save this relationship. The best thing you can do is break it off. Don't hold onto that.

MVRemix: When I say to you "the stupidest argument you've had in a relationship," what springs to mind?

Ne-Yo: I remember arguing with a girl once over the light in a refrigerator.

MVRemix: How far did that escalate?

Ne-Yo: That escalated into a full blown mad argument. We were screaming and hollering at each other at the the top of our lungs to the point where by the end of it we didn't even remember what we were arguing about. Yeah, it gets that dumb.

MVRemix: How many songs were created for "In My Own Words"?

Ne-Yo: A good three hundred.

MVRemix: And what's the situation with those that weren't chosen - will they spiral off into other people or future albums of yours, or...

Ne-Yo: There are certain songs that I've written that didn't make it to this album that I refuse to let go of, I will not let go of just because I feel that they're honestly - not to toot my own horn or sound conceited but I feel that they're honestly too good for me to give to somebody else. The Mario thing (writing "Let Me Love You") was a complete accident that was never written for me. It was a situation where I couldn't have kept that if I wanted to. But I feel that I've written songs that are as good, if not better than the Mario song that did not make this album for one reason or another. But those I'm definitely holding on to.

Then there's other songs that I feel are just as good, but are to the point where they're written well enough that I could pass them onto somebody else and the point would still get across. Whereas the songs for myself I honestly don't feel anybody's gonna get the point across as well as I'm gonna get the point across on those songs. So yeah, some of 'em I'm keeping for other projects for myself, other ones I submit to other people. It just keeps going.

MVRemix: Tell me about Compound Entertainment and how it was formed.

Ne-Yo: Compound Entertainment is my production company. It was formed by myself and my current manager. When we first met... My manager is the ultimate businessman, almost to the point where he doesn't have a personality he's so much of a businessman. [chuckles] He'll probably hate me for saying that too. I honestly don't feel that there's nothing that this man can't do from a business standpoint. There's no product that he can't sell. He has never said that he was gonna do something that he didn't do. He has never gone into any type of venture that he wasn't successful at. I basically told him the idea of me basically wanting to take over the world as far as the entertainment division of the world and he came up with the idea of, "Lets put together a production company. I know you know people that sing, I know you know people that write, I know you know people that produce. Lets get all these people together and form a compound." That's where the name came from and basically how it came together. We have six producers and four writers currently. We're growing everyday. We've got Compound Entertainment, off of that we've got Compound Films, we've got Compound Real Estate on the way. We're all over the place with it. It started with the music but it's becoming something that's bigger than the music.

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