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Music Interview

Songwriter Wayne Hector talks One Direction album, Nicki Minaj

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Wayne Hector, songwriter

You may not recognise his name, but we'd bet good money on most knowing a fair few of Wayne Hector's songs. The UK producer boasts 30 number ones and countless hits to his name, creating tracks for artists ranging from JLS and The Wanted to Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj.

His first hit was a co-write on Peter Andre's 'Mysterious Girl'; a track he insists he was proud to be a part of. "If I'm honest, it's not the coolest song in the world," he told Digital Spy. "But I appreciate what it did for my career!"

From there, he went on to work with Damage, Boyzone, Ronan Keating and Westlife, a group he says marked a turning point in his career. "Westlife was something completely different for me. They've sold 44 million albums - there aren't many acts that do that."

He's credited with writing seven of the Irish group's 13 number one singles, including 1999's 'Flying Without Wings'. Discussing when he came up with the idea for the track, he recalls: "I was in a hip-hop session in LA - the furthest thing you would think of from that song - and I went out for a break and just came up with the hook. I phoned my mum and left it on her answering machine and said, 'Do not delete this!'

"Then I came up with the first verse and chorus, played it to their producer Steve Mac, and finished the song in about 45 minutes. That's quick for me. There have been occasions where I've spent 45 weeks on a single song."

Hector has since become the go-to songwriter for boybands, including One Direction, newcomers Union J and JLS, who he is sad to see parting ways. "I'm always sad when that point comes," he confesses. "If there's one thing that's guaranteed when any band starts, it's that they'll end."

JLS at the Childline Concert 2012 held in Dublin.

© WENN

JLS

Westlife play their penultimate concert at Croke Park in Dublin, Ireland.

© WENN

Westlife



Having worked on songs for three of the band's four records, we ask if he's considered penning them a farewell track for their greatest hits later this year. "I haven't yet, but I'm definitely going to have a go at it. That'll be tough task though - I'll probably get so consumed by it that I'll miss the album release date or something."

Having spent the last few years working solely in the UK after becoming a father, Hector reveals he is returning to America to work on albums for the likes of Spears, Minaj, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez. But working with globally established acts doesn't come without its obstacles.

"Either way, you end up getting embroiled in the politics," he admits. "Like with anything, you try and sort out an agreement before you get involved with a project as to what's what, what the splits are and who's writing. I've turned up to sessions before where there are seven or eight people in the room. That might make me enough for a hamburger meal!"

It's a problem he reveals is becoming increasingly common in his line of work, particularly for up-and-coming songwriters. "They'll go to work with a particular artist who isn't really doing any of the writing but they want 50% of the song because they have a publishing deal which says they need to write 50% of the album," he reveals.

"Those writers are getting completely ripped off. Singers have merchandising, endorsements and concerts, etc., so to take money from someone like that when it's their only source of income is plain wrong. Luckily I don't have that problem anymore, I don't work with those sorts of acts."

Another common aspect to writing for big acts are writers' camps; something he assures are a lot more fun than they sound. "The problem is they're actually too much fun, so nothing really gets done! They're like a holiday, so getting the mindset to work and produce the goods is very hard. I once went on one set up by Gary Barlow and it was very focused and organised, but some can be a bit headless."

Nicki Minaj, 2013 Met Ball, Costume Institute Gala Benefit celebrating the Punk: Chaos To Couture exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Tommy Hilfiger

Nicki Minaj

One Direction's  Louis Tomlinson, Harry Styles, Liam Payne, Zayn Malik and Niall Horan at the Gibson Amphitheatre ~~ June 16, 2012

© Getty Images / Michael Tullberg

One Direction



Hector's current projects include Jennifer Lopez, Enrique Iglesias, former X Factor contestant Ella Henderson and One Direction's new album, which is due later this year. "They've definitely gone for a more mature sound," he says of the record. "It's still fun, but there are some really cool vibes coming from it. With this album, there's definitely a shift. I think it'll be really good. Hopefully there will be some good surprises on it. It's coming out at Christmas so we're almost finished on it."

Asked whether he ever feels embarrassed to admit he works with boybands, he adamantly claims: "There's this horrid idea that it's embarrassing to be in a boyband because you often don't write your own songs and that somehow doesn't make you credible.

"Elvis never wrote his own stuff but he was an incredible artist. Whitney Houston as well... there are so many. Of course there are legends out there who did, but not everyone is capable of that greatness on their own. I say that success is credible. People love or hate boybands, but they're a massive part of people's childhood memories and because of that it's just as relevant as anything else."

Discussing one his most successful songs not attributed to a boyband, Minaj's 'Starships', he reveals that he still doesn't tire of hearing it on the radio 16 months after its release. "I still think to myself, wow, someone wants to play my songs! I enjoy them while they're out there. 'Starships' has been on the radio since last year... solidly. Obviously that's great, but the challenge is to write something new that can be even bigger. I don't think I'll ever tire of that."

Listen to a playlist of songs written or co-written by Wayne Hector below:



>One Direction: 'New album is rockier, edgier'
>Nicki Minaj to 'focus on rap' for new album

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