One on One With Singer/Songwriter Ne-Yo


neyo_YardFlex.jpgAFTER SUFFERING a major disappointment when he first tried to make an album, singer-songwriter Ne-Yo decided to drop the 'singer' off his resume and just focus on being a songwriter. And he was so successful, writing the smash Let Me Love You for Mario last year, that for a while he was prepared to live out his artistic dreams out of the spotlight.

But executives at Def Jam Records had other ideas once they got to listen to some of Ne-Yo's music. He was signed to a record deal and the result, his album In My Own Words, arrived last month. It debuted at the top of the charts, thanks in part to the sizzling success of the album's No. 1 single, So Sick.

The 23-year-old recently sat down with The Associated Press and discussed what it's been like to focus once again on the singer part of his resume.

AP: Did you always want to be a performer?
Ne-Yo: I always wanted to be onstage and all of that stuff. For a minute I went through the stage where I didn't want to do the artiste thing because I had a deal previous to this one with Columbia Records that went sour. It just made me step away from the music business as a whole. I met up with my current manager and my current production company, which is Compound Entertainment and they really reminded me that music is not what I do, it is what I am. I got back into it. I was still kind of shy about the whole artiste thing.

AP: Was it hard seeing other artistes (such as Mario) become well-known by singing the songs you wrote?
Ne-Yo: Not at all. A success for him is a success for me. I wrote the song. It was good. I actually got the chance to meet Mario and have a conversation with the dude. When the song did what it did we became friends. I was happy for him.

AP: Do you consult with the artistes before writing songs?
Ne-Yo: It sometimes depends. It happens both ways. With Mario I met him after I wrote the song so I didn't really get a chance to get in his brain at all. If at all possible it helps to sit down with the artiste and ask them how they would handle situations so I can use words they would actually say, phrases they would actually use. A lot of times when people come to me for a song, I take it they've heard what I do and they've heard my sound. They want my sound so they say, "Do you. Just give us something hot."

AP: Talk about the inspiration behind your single, 'So Sick'.
Ne-Yo: So Sick is a song about the first time I ever fell in love with a girl. I was 17. Love has no age range on it. Love can happen when it happens. When you are young you tend to listen to your friends a little more than you should. I wound up doing stuff I did not have any business doing. I cheated on her. She found out about it and she left. At the time it was devastating because I was really in love with this girl. I could see myself having kids with this girl and settling down and just being us. When it happened, it hit me kind of hard. That is normally where the best songs come from. It's weird. The more you suffer, the better songwriter you are.

AP: How much have you suffered in your 23 years?
Ne-Yo: I like to put it this way: I've lived a life you can write a book on, but I don't write books, I write songs. Instead of making a book, I made an album.

AP: Do you want to go back to being a full-time writer?
Ne-Yo: Not at all. Not at all. If you would have asked me that question three months ago, I would have said maybe. Honestly, the vibe, the high that you get from being onstage and as soon as the song comes on you go crazy, and you put the mic to the crowd and they sing the song back to you. There is no words for what that feels like. I couldn't give that up if I tried.

Source: NEW YORK (AP):