DJ Burns Talks Working With Britney
By now you should know that DJ Burns produced "Make Me"... that's the guy in the photo above who Britney posed with in the studio back in October.
Now Barns is speaking about what it was like working with the Queen. Check out his interview with iHeart Radio
Congratulations on the Britney release. It shot straight up to the top of iTunes and is quite the breath of fresh air. How did the project come about?
I made the ["Make Me"] beat a year or so ago, and somehow it managed to get into Britney’s team's hands and then they contacted me and were like, "Britney's starting a new record and we really love this," and it kind of steamrolled from there. We got the vocal done on it and it just became what it is now.
You mentioned that you created the beat a while back before hitting the studio with Britney. I think a lot of people were attracted to the record, particularly because this is a sound that Britney hasn’t explored before and usually her lead singles are out of the gate crazy dance records. You actually get to really hear her voice. Did you go in with that mindset?
Totally. I hadn't listened to a hell of a lot of the most recent Britney stuff. I knew that the previous singles to this one were very much, like you say, down the line. They’re all like fall to the floor kind of uptempo things. The vocal was one of my main focuses on this one because I wanted it to feel like there was some kind of emotion in that, which isn't necessarily in a lot of the most recent singles that she did. I wanted to steer away from that autotune kind of sound and have something much more natural sounding, so we spent a lot of time on the vocal and just getting it to where it sounded like she's actually singing it from the heart rather than it being too much production. I think we've achieved that. I've seen a lot of good reactions and that makes me happy to see because there's a lot of effort being put into the vocal production on the song.
You guys definitely accomplished that. Some of her recent catalog is just driven by the beat and I think that there was such thought put into the lyrics. It really created a special vision.
The thing that I always want to do with pop music is … even if I strip back all of the production stuff, if there's a really good song underneath that already, then it makes it so much easier. It doesn't have to rely on a production gimmick. You can play the song on the piano and it's still a great song, which makes a big difference in my eyes.
What was it like specifically working with Britney in the studio?
It was amazing. It was daunting for me to begin with because she's such a legend and she's kind of a weird entity. She has this crazy insane fan base and she's been doing it for so long. When I got in there, she's just the most normal, down to earth person. It was kind of really easy. It was like you get to know someone over an hour and then it's just like you're buddies working in the studio. It was really simple. I was pleasantly surprised by her because she is such a huge star. Sometimes you think there's going to be some type of ego or whatever, but she was just so cool and it just made the whole experience. She's such a nice person, as well.
You had produced the music prior to visiting her. When did the lyrics come about?
It had gotten into Joe Janiak’s hands, who's a writer from the U.K., who I'd never met before... He wasn't really writing for anyone in particular. He picked this beat. I think Britney's team heard the song without lyrics to begin with and they already decided that they loved it. It didn't even have lyrics. They were just like, "We need lyrics on this if we really want to use it." So me and Joe had to come up with the lyrics. I got back in touch with him. I was in L.A. He was in London and we just did like loads of stuff over e-mail. He took the verse lyrics, and the chorus came together pretty quick, and that was how that formed.
And now, you also have G-Eazy, who fills the bridge of this song. Was that your intent or Britney's intent to get a feature on the track?
I think it was her [idea]. That came later. Originally, there was no feature. I made a bridge and Britney was singing. There's actually a non-rap version. I think it's out. [It] has Britney doing a bridge.
(yes it is- you can hear it here)
We had G come in like last subject [about] a month or so before the record was out. I think it was just a suggestion. It’s that kind of vibe. It had that hip-hop feel to it, and I think the beat kind of lends itself to a rap. They were like, "Can you do a gap, where we can put some more in there?" I think G-Eazy heard it. He was just like, "This is big." He wanted to jump on it straight away. It just really came together. It topped it off and it also brought the song up there. It took it somewhere else in a positive way. It just kind of sealed the whole thing off.
(hear what G-Eazy said about the process here)
A lot of fans are hoping to see the BURNS remix of "Make Me."
I've been asked to do it. . . .But at the moment, there's just so many different projects that I'm working on and I'm so happy with the original that it doesn't make sense to go in on it again. I'd like to leave it to someone else to try, you know?
(And they have... Britney released 3 remixes. Listen to them on iTunes.)