Before the days of YouTube stardom, Stacy Barthe discovered music through a personal journey. Hailing from Biggie’s hometown of Brooklyn, the singer/songwriter said no one in her immediate family was truly connected to music. “We didn’t get cable until I was in the seventh grade,” she revealed. Barthe ultimately relied on the local public access network to catch up on videos she missed while in school. But, as a Big Apple native, it was hard not to become fully invested in the sounds that engulfed her everyday. Her appetite for music later shifted to one legendary radio station – Hot 97. “I would wait for my song to come back on the radio and tape them on blank cassette tapes,” she said. “Ah… those were the days!”
Those days of turning the FM dial and watching music video countdowns later morphed into songwriting sessions with your favorite artists. Going from an intern at Jive Records to cementing her feet in the studio after meeting HitBoy, the Motown signee gets this whole “life is a journey” statement. The wordsmith has a roster of singles that live on the charts from Rihanna’s “Cheers” to Miley Cyrus’ “Adore You.” Her presence in the music realm remains unmatched.
For VIBE’s latest installment of “Views From The Studio,” Barthe discusses her stake in the industry as an artist/songwriter, forthcoming projects, and how she came to work with pop music’s biggest names.
VIBE: Who was the very first artist that you worked with in the studio and describe that feeling? Were you nervous?
Mase was one of the first artists I was ever in the studio with. I was elated because Mase was one of my favorite rappers growing up. I was introduced to him by a good friend of mine named Sugar Jay who was managing me at the time.
VIBE: In a previous interview with VIBE, you spoke about working with Beyonce. How were your interactions with other artists like Katy Perry, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Miley Cyrus?
The first big placement I got was on Britney Spears. I was working with Danja Hands on Ciara and we had awesome chemistry so he invited me to work on Britney Spears. I wrote a song called “Blur” for her Circus album. My encounter with her was very brief. She works really quickly. Katy Perry is an awesome creator. She usually doesn’t write with other writers, but my friend Chris Anokute was A&Ring her project at the time and I was invited to Las Vegas to write with Katy and Tricky Stewart. I co-wrote “Hummingbird Heartbeat” which was on the Teenage Dream album. She is brilliant and super cool! When I wrote “Cheers” for Rihanna, I didnt have gas to get to the studio, but I was determined to make her album and that’s what happened. I was a part of a writing camp, so Rihanna wasn’t there. I didn’t meet her until a couple of years later. She is the sweetest. Miley is like my little sister and we kicked it off from the first day we met. She cut a song I wrote for my project called “Adore You”, which was on Bangerz. It wasn’t intended for her, but her fiancé at the time, Liam Hemsworth, proposed to her to this song, so she had a special connection with the song.
VIBE: How do you describe your songwriting process?
I don’t really have a process. I sing exactly how I’m feeling. I don’t really write, sometimes, I just go in the booth and do whatever I feel. I’m inspired by my own life mostly, and the life around me.
VIBE: How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t believe in writers block. When there is a block it’s usually because I’m not inspired.
VIBE: Have you ever had to turn down someone to focus on your own music?
I’m in a space right now where I only work on things and people that I’m inspired by.
VIBE: Suicide is a sensitive subject for a lot of people and I saw one of your tweets with the hashtag “suicide survivor.” Describe the writing process for one of your tracks on BEcoming titled “My Suicide Note.” Did you have to relive or revisit any dark moments for that song?
“My Suicide Note” is a song about my coward attempt to commit suicide, but if I really wanted to do it I would’ve shot myself or something, but I took a bunch of pills and was hoping I didn’t wake up the next day and I did. I think everybody at some point or another, I don’t care who you are or how good life seems to people on the outside, everybody has thought about killing themselves at some point or another.
VIBE: What brought you to the point of suicide?
Suicide has always been a reoccurring thought, but that particular time I was like 380 pounds and I was just feeling hopeless like where do I start? My career wasn’t going the way I thought it would be, and I just didn’t want to live.
VIBE: Is putting together your music like a therapy session for you or even your listeners?
It’s cathartic and therapeutic for me because I get to write exactly how I’m feeling. When I’m creating, I don’t necessarily think about anybody else because it’s my story that I’m telling and whoever connects, connects. Me getting to better is just living life. I write about it and I’m pretty much done with it afterwards. It’s like a purge.
VIBE: You also worked with John Legend on another BEcoming track titled “Angel.” What did you learn about penning a song that stands the test of time like his song “All Of Me”?
I think anything talking about the human condition is going to be timeless because emotions are timeless. They’re not trendy. Once you’re tapping into the human condition, it will be timeless. That’s all I do, I don’t know how to do anything else. I just happen to fall into that category of writing songs that can be forever and will be.
VIBE: It’s easy for a lot of artists to do what’s trending in the music business. How do you consciously make sure your songs don’t get lost in the sauce?
I don’t really worry about them getting lost in the sauce because I don’t really know what’s going on in music and radio. I don’t blog, watch TV, go on the Internet and search for stuff. I’m pretty much in my own world. Whatever I’m creating is only influenced by what I feel like doing. I don’t know what’s popular, you know what I mean?
VIBE: Do you have any mentors in the industry that you may look to for advice within certain points of your career?
Pharrell is one of my mentors in the business. He has always given me his honest opinion and has been a consistent encourager. However it took a village to get me here, so there have been many executives and producers that sowed into the quilt that became me.
VIBE: Do you have any other projects in the works?
I have been working with Janelle Monae, Nico and Vinz, Cassie, DJ Snake, Rich Skillz, and I just did a song that is on my project as well as Tyrese’s soundtrack for a short film he did that Denzel Washington is producing. I am just floating around and creating with some dope energies.
Stacy Barthe’s forthcoming album BEcoming drops July 10.
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