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Music Interview

Jim Beanz talks Little Mix, Britney, Cheryl Cole

By
Jim Beanz


Since 2004, US producer Jim Beanz has collaborated with some of pop's biggest names.

If he wasn't in the recording studio with Shakira and Gwen Stefani, he was crafting tracks for Britney Spears's critically-lauded Blackout album.

In the past year, Timbaland's protégé has turned his attention to a host of British talent and has been working on projects with Cheryl Cole, JLS and Little Mix.

Digital Spy caught up with Jim while he's in the UK to chat about what's in store for the artists he has been working with.

How was your weekend? We hear you were in the studio with Cover Drive...
"Cover Drive and I had a great weekend. We got about six songs done in two days! Nowadays it's good to get one done in a day, but the chemistry was so great."

You've also been working with Little Mix, who you've likened to early Destiny's Child. Do you think they can be just as successful in the long run?
"Absolutely, they are very hard-working. Our chemistry was interesting because I used to be in a group years ago, so I was quite good at making sure they belong together. They are four little stars and it's all so new to them, but they really listened well."

What were the final results?
"I did two tracks with Little Mix which are both uptempo. One has more of a hip-hop meets pop sound, while the other is more pop-dance. I won't find out until the end if they've made the album, but their A&R team listened to them and loved them."

Little Mix backstage at the Party in the Park 2012 at Temple Newsam Park, Leeds

© WENN

JLS attend the Barclaycard Unwind Lounge at Day 2 of the O2 Wireless festival

© John Furniss/Invision/AP



You've also been in the studio with JLS. How would you describe the work you've done with them?
"It was incredible. We ended up doing four songs, when they were only looking for one more track to go on the album. We came out with two strong records, so now we're waiting to see which one or if both will possibly make the record. They're both uptempo and club-friendly and everyone's been saying they show JLS's growth since their last album. I wanted to give them something that their fanbase will still like, but also show the rebirth of JLS."

They must be feeling the pressure with The Wanted and One Direction cracking the US. Do you think their new material will give them a shot at American success?
"Absolutely, I tend to be believe it's more about having a hit record. Adele, Jessie J, One Direction; each of those examples just had great hit records. I don't think it's about whether these people can work, but these people can't. It's more about having that hit record which reaches the masses."

You've served as a vocal producer for both Britney Spears and Demi Lovato who are now judges on The X Factor USA. How was it working with them?
"They were both very easy to work with. A lot of people would say Demi is more known as a vocalist and Britney's an entertainer, but what's most important regardless is being attentive in the studio and open to who you're working with without having an ego. Both of them were very down to earth. I worked with Britney on Blackout and Circus and she was very easy to work with. That's why the songs came out so amazing."

X Factor judges Simon Cowell, L.A. Reid, Britney Spears and Demi Lovato at the 2012 Fox  Upfront Presentation held at the Wollman Rink in New York City, USA, 14.05.12

© Michael Carpenter/WENN.com

Demi Lovato and Britney Spears arrive for the San Francisco X Factor auditions.

© Altizer/ WENN.com



After working with them closely on their vocals, what do you think they'll each be looking for on The X Factor?
"I'm sure they'll want to have someone who can entertain. Despite having a good voice, you've got to have a great personality on stage that will draw people in. As well as a great vocal, they'll want someone who can deliver a great song and keep people interested - and that's something they both have in common."

Britney's Blackout album was critically lauded, but came from a time of unfortunate personal circumstances. Do you think she can ever deliver a record of that standard again without the personal ups and downs?
"They say that the negativity helps to sell an album sometimes, but in that case it was also about the music. It was unfortunate what was going on, but since then she's got a lot better. I really think that nowadays it comes down to just having good music. Songs that make people feel good in the clubs."

Where do you think music is heading at the moment?
"Hopefully it's going to change. Most of the stuff sounds the same on the radio, so I want to hear different version of songs. I do think most of the grittier stuff is coming from the UK. I would love to see different music and different artists come into play. Right now, for me, music is getting pretty boring and is very repetitious.

"I come from a team of people who create different sounds and think with a different view. The Timbaland camp are right now working on a Justin Timberlake album and a Missy Elliot album and they are two artists who have always been known to bring fresh air to music. It's exciting and I can't wait to see them come out and hopefully music will take a turn."

Cheryl Cole, A Million Lights' album signing, HMV Whitetelys

© Rex Features / Hugh Thompson/Rex Features



You recently worked with Cheryl Cole on her latest album A Million Lights. In hindsight do you think her departure from The X Factor USA was a good move?
"Cheryl wanted to concentrate on her album and personal life and sometimes, when it comes to a television show, it can kinda be draining. It pulls you away from the things you want to focus on. She worked really hard and everything happened the way it was supposed to. I'm excited for her."

Like Britney, Cheryl is more about the performance. Did you have that in mind when you were working with her?
"I definitely had performance-based songs for her. I had tracks which I felt were really tailored to who I felt she was as a person and the artist she wanted to put out there to the public. I've always tried to make songs that fit an artist; that they can perform in shows and that the public will gravitate towards. I gave her 'Sexy Den A Mutha' because I wanted it to be a statement. It's almost a female empowerment version of 'Sexy And I Know It' by LMFAO."

There's been a lot of talk of Cheryl and Rihanna recording a collaboration. Do you think it will ever happen?
"I know they are friends and I know Rihanna loves her. I think it would be amazing, but I can't say if or when it will happen. I think they would have great chemistry on the camera and in the studio."

Listen to Cheryl Cole's 'Sexy Den A Mutha' below:

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