The post Behind the Boards with SG Lewis: Producer and Songwriter Talks Dua Lipa, Tove Lo, and Jessie Ware appeared first on Consequence.
Behind the Boards is a series where we spotlight some of the biggest producers in the industry and dig into some of their favorite projects. Here, we sit down with SG Lewis to discuss his rich pop repertoire.
SG Lewis knows the secret to crafting a great pop song — even the briefest of glances at his writing and production credits can confirm it. Since his jump from residential DJ and festival favorite to producer, writer, and solo artist, there’s a strong chance even the most casual of pop listeners has heard his work.
In a conversation unpacking his work, it’s immediately clear that Lewis understands the power in being surrounded by other talented people, some of whom are even great friends. He has a knack for being able to turn a partnership into an unforgettable collaboration. But with his forthcoming album — AudioLust & Higher Love, arriving Friday, January 27th — he challenged himself to put his own voice front and center.
“I spent more time pushing myself as a songwriter and as a singer and seeing how far that rabbit hole went,” he tells Consequence. “I’m definitely more nervous to share this album, because I feel like I’m putting myself out there more with it — I think it’s easier to hide behind other people’s emotions through collaborations… but at the same time, I’ve always said that if you’re not making yourself uncomfortable, then you’re not growing as an artist.”
One pre-release single, “Infatuation,” is a bouncy, technicolored track with no featured artist. “I think that I’m excited about the fact that I’m making myself uncomfortable,” he shares.
Ahead of the release of AudioLust & Higher Love, we connected with the writer, producer, and artist to unlock some of the stories behind past favorites (and a look into the new album). Below, he digs into the processes behind Dua Lipa’s unforgettable “Hallucinate,” his collaborations with Tove Lo, and more. You can also catch him live both Fridays at Coachella 2023.
Dua Lipa – “Hallucinate”
“Hallucinate” started from an idea from me and my friend, Sophie Cook; we were at Chocolate Studios. It was the second thing we’d worked on in the day. We had a rough idea of the pre-chorus and the chorus, but Sophie had to leave, so we sort of forgot about it for a bit. I can’t remember if I sent it to Dua or how it sort of came about, but she was into the idea.
So then we got together with Dua to write the rest of the song and complete it, and we all met up at the studio in London, RAK Studios. I’ve known Dua for quite some time, but it’s the first time I had seeing her work in the studio. I think the thing I took from that is that it’s no accident that she’s had the success that she’s had. She’s definitely a pro in the studio — she’s very vocal and was unbelievable to record. She’s very accurate with her delivery and pitching, someone that knows their voice really well. So we wrote the rest of the song and recorded it, and then I finished up the production.
Stuart Price, who’s a production hero of mine, did some additional production on it and it added that extra kind of sparkle on top. I think it all kind of happened so fast, because it was a real last-minute addition to the album, so I didn’t have a chance to think about it. Then, all of a sudden, that album grew into this incredible, massive thing. You know, I’ve never been a part of an album that’s become a part of pop culture like that. The whole ride was an amazing sort of journey, and an amazing thing to be a small part of, because it kind of went on to be a part of so many moments over the next year. It was really cool to be attached to that in any way.
Mabel – “Let Them Know”
It was in the middle of the pandemic, and Mabel was doing a writing camp in Oxford, a residential. There were a bunch of really amazing people who I know and have loved working with in the past going, and I’d always had a good friendship with Mabel. So I thought, yeah, I’d love to go down and work on some music for a couple of days.
There were a couple of rooms, and I took myself to one of the side rooms and started working on the initial idea, the chords, and the drums. RAYE joined me in the room and we started to riff on what would become “Let Them Know.” Then Mabel came in and said, “Oh, that sounds cool.” It all happened quite quickly, and it was really cool for me, because Mabel was having so much fun making that record. It was expressing something that she wanted to express. I think it’s very hard to fake that fun feeling. I think you got to be enjoying yourself to make records that feel that joy. I think because it can’t be too scientific.
I think it’s been interesting because friends in America are catching wind of that song and having a later surge. I feel like I hear that song now more than I did when it came out, so I feel like it’s a song that will have more of a life to come.
Tove Lo – “Pineapple Slice”
Meeting Tove, it’s been nothing but wonderful. I met her husband Charlie on a night out prior to meeting Tove. I met him and we became fast friends. Then, at some point in the night, he was like, “Oh, I think you’re working with my wife next week.” And I said, “Who is your wife?” He was like, “Oh, Tove Lo.”
Because we had formed such a friendship that felt like a sign — a good sign, but there was a pressure going into the session. But Tove is just one of the most talented and unique pop song voices and writers, and she’s somebody in complete creative control of her pen and to her ability to kind of just say things that other people weren’t saying. So with “Pineapple Slice,” some of the lyrics are really out there, dirty lyrics, and I just love that Tove pulls them off so effortlessly and it doesn’t feel conceited. She’s just expressing herself to the most.
“Pineapple Slice” was the second one that we did. We were in a flow by then and pretty comfortable, so it just came very naturally at that point. And again, it’s another record where we’re just having a lot of fun.
Jessie Ware – “Hot N Heavy”
One of the reasons I signed [to PMR Records] was because Jessie Ware was on the label, and when I signed, I did a remix for Jessie — one of the first things that I released as SG Lewis. I’ve always wanted to record with Jessie and I knew her a bit just from being labelmates, but we tried a few things and never quite nailed something.
Then we got in the studio with Shun [Shungudzo Kuyimba] and Danny Parker and we were writing. And it was a Sunday and I think I was hungover. Jessie has a very wonderful host vibe to her. She brings snacks to the studio and she’s very warm and friendly. We were really just hanging out and then the song happened very naturally. We worked on “Hot N Heavy” and it was pretty much exactly as you hear on the release by the end of the session.
But the thing I remember the most about that day was finishing the song and all going for a Sunday roast in London, because both Shun and Danny are Americans, so we went to a pub and had a roast dinner in West London. It was the most ordinary thing following quite an extraordinary thing. We were in a room writing these sweaty dance-pop songs and then went for a very wholesome roast. It was a day of yin and yang for sure.
SG Lewis – “Lifetime”
There’s a song called “Lifetime” on the album. Basically, I’d been at a residential studio working, sort of locked off from the rest of the world, again in the pandemic. I would go into these residential studios and I would invite a couple friends that I write with to just live for a month and we would lock ourselves away and work on music nonstop. It was a really intense but fruitful way of working on music.
So me, Ed Drewett, Ruben James and Jay Moon were all there, and we’ve been working all week. We were having some dinner and we were drinking a bit. Ed told us the story of how he met his wife, Daisy — he met his now wife when he was 12 years old. He walks up to her in a shopping mall in Essex in the UK and is like, “Hey, can I have your number?” and they shyly exchanged numbers. So for the best part of like 15 years, they were friends and they grew up together and they were always dating other people but it was always this unspoken bond that they had never quite admit to.
Then, Ed was on a flight home from LA and he had been drinking and he was like, “Fuck it, I have to tell her,” so he pulled his phone out and he was like, “I’ve waited my entire lifetime to tell you, but I’m completely in love with you.” And she was like, “I love you too,” and that was the start of them actually becoming now husband and wife. But that story resonated with us so much that we ran straight to the studio room and started playing some chords. The first words that I started singing were, “I’ve waited for a lifetime to tell you, I love you.” Everything expanded from there.
I just have really fond memories of it being midnight and looping the chorus without the drums and then sat outside smoking a cigarette. I remember being really happy about how that song felt. I’m really proud of it. That song has a special place for me.