Thursday, January 8, 2009

[HERALD INTERVIEW]Ne-yo back in Seoul with Jamsil show

Ne-yo will be in town in concert this weekend. Thanks to the promoter, XStream Productions, I managed to land another interview scoop.

This time, however, the culture section demanded it be moved from the Expat Living section to theirs. Um, okay. Maybe not the coolest move on their part, but a scoop nonetheless. Only now it's bumped up a few pages.

Here is the interview. Enjoy.

[HERALD INTERVIEW]Ne-yo back in Seoul with Jamsil show

On Jan. 11, Seoul's R&B fans will have something to celebrate. As he promised last year, Grammy Award winning, R&B singer and producer Ne-yo will be back to perform.

Fans in Seoul got their first taste of him live last April when he performed at Olympic Stadium. This weekend Ne-yo will perform at Jamsil Gymnasium, along with pop group the Pussycat Dolls.

Ne-yo is on tour to promote his third album, "Year of the Gentleman." His 2008 release was recently nominated for six Grammy Awards. The album was inspired by the smooth style of crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr.

This time, however, there won't just be a concert. X Stream Productions will host a public after party at 10 p.m. featuring a special appearance by Ne-yo at Club Answer in Seoul. Hip-hop artist Carlos Galvan, aka Cali-Mexci, will be the master of ceremonies.

Ne-yo started writing songs for popular music acts in the late 1990s. He was thrust into the limelight after he co-wrote Mario's hit single "Let Me Love You." After the success of that single, Ne-yo's celebrity grew and he is now an established writer.

In an email interview, Ne-yo talked about making songs and artists he's worked with, and offered advice for emerging musicians.

Q: You started off as a performer but got your break as a songwriter when Marques Houston recorded your song "That Girl." How does it feel to now be both a songwriter and popular performer?

A: My first major placement was with Marques Houston, but that's not all. I wrote a song called "Bad Girl," after that it was Nivea, Christina Milian, then B2K, Heather Headley. Then it was the Mario, Mary J. Blige, Faith Evans, Musiq Soulchild, Ruben Studdard, Paula DeAnda, some more stuff for Christina Milian, Beyonce, Rhianna, Mario Vazquez, Megan Rochelle ... I know I'm forgetting people - Britney Spears, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson, Celine Deon, Usher, Chris Brown - and on and on.

Q: You also have a strong reputation as a producer of hit records. For example, you produced Rihana's "Take a Bow" and Beyonce's "Irreplacable." How does it feel to have such great success as a songwriter, producer and performer?

A: It's like this - if my song falls at number three, and a song I wrote for Beyonce falls at No. 2, and a song I wrote for Mary J. Blige falls at No. 1, I'm still the first three, so it's all good to me. One, two, and three is still me, even if it ain't me as an artist, it's still me. My name is still on the first three slots in the Billboard charts, so I'm good.

Q: Can you name some of your favorite artists? What artists and songs are in rotation on your iPod?

A: My choice for this year has got to be Lil Wayne. Wayne had a fantastic year in 2008. Wayne has been dope for a really, really long time, and people are just starting to notice it. Jazmine Sullivan, newcomer to the game, did really big things this year. Katy Perry, another newcomer to the game, did really big things this year. There was a lot of really good music this year.

Q: Can you name some of the artists you've loved working with?

A: All artists are unique and I love working with various artists so that I can try out different styles, and as I've mentioned, I have worked with many artists.

Q: You were baptized as Shaffer Chimere Smith. How did you get the name Ne-yo?

A: Everyone asks me that and most everyone knows that I got called Neo by Big D Evans cuz he said I saw music like Neo from the Matrix. Then all of a sudden everyone started calling me that.

Q: You have a recording studio in Atlanta, Georgia, called Carrington House and your own production company called Compound Entertainment. Do you want to start your own record company like Babyface's LaFace Records? Would that also be based in Atlanta?

A: Compound is a label and some artists associated with it are Paula Campbell and Sixx John and Shanell.

Q: According to reports you're also going to work with Marilyn Manson. He performed in Seoul at the ETP Festival over the summer. How is your collaboration with him going?

A: You'll have to wait and see!

Q: Finally, what advice would you give to those aspiring performers, songwriters and producers?

A: I say what I always say, hone your skills. Take the time to hone your skills. A lot of what the business is today is meeting the right person at the right time. You've got to establish relationships and connections. Somebody's going to hear your music at some point - someone's going to find out about it. So you've got to be ready for when your opportunity comes. When I met with Def Jam I hadn't planned on auditioning for them. But the deal happened because I had the songs and I was ready to perform.

For more information on the after party contact Club Answer at (02) 548-7115 or go to their website at For more information on the concert, go to or call 1544-1555. Learn more about Ne-yo's music at his website

Here is a .pdf version:


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