Born into music, Christian Davis toured with his parents as a child. As an artist for BMI, he opened for acts like Christina Aguilera, ‘N Sync and Backstreet Boys. When he came to L.A. looking for a new record deal, he failed to find one. Instead, he transformed into one of the industry’s most sought after writer / producers. His recent work with El DeBarge netted him a nomination for R&B Album of the Year. His Slydoggie Productions provides artists with a one-stop, artist-focused shop that includes a label in addition to a wide network of industry professionals.
Born to Sing:
At three days old, I was put on a 35- foot 4104 tour bus until I was nine. That was my home. My father used to play organ with Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad and then did a Christian album. I left the road at 10, came back to music at 14 and got my deal at 16. I opened for all the pop era of the late-‘90s and sold about half a million records.
Every label loved my sound, wanted to cut and demo my songs, but wasn’t looking to sign an artist. So I took the job in front of me and became a writer and producer. I had to learn to be the artist that I am in the studio for other artists. It’s one thing to be an artist, it’s another to transition over to a credible writer-producer and sign with an artist production company, Darkchild. I climbed a totally different ladder in the industry. The funny thing is now I’m being talked about on an artistry level again, with everybody being 30 and white and cool. I happen to be 30 and white and cool. I might do something again. If not, I’m content.
There's definitely a challenge in building a successful production company and that is just to stay humble and don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Always be creative and innovative and new. And never get content, because there are a thousand guys younger and better than you nipping at your heels.
Creating, Not Recreating:
[Slydoggie] started out with just me, but then being with Darkchild [Rodney Jerkins] and seeing the model of a warehouse, a factory if you will, of a production company, I took some of those elements. You’ve got to be careful not to get too factory and just be pushing out records or whatever is the flavor of the week, but you’ve still got to keep it moving. You can get too into the music and lose sight of the actual business. You can end up broke and heading out of L.A. on the same bus you came in on if you don’t keep the business in sight.
Just What You Need:
The reason we’ve become a record label and have gotten our own distribution is because the record labels are a little scared. They’re still doing their thing, but the cool thing about being a production company with distribution is we can help cater to what they are lacking. If they’ve got a great live performance and the record doesn’t stand up to it, we’re there for you. If you need to break a single, need to do some remixes, we’re there for you. Your sound might be the right sound but the wrong place. We’re here to help.
We’re taking all the years we’ve screwed up and helping people learn how to get it right. So our deals are normally a partnership with the artist in some capacity. We can help them break themselves or, if they’re into doing a major label thing, we’ll get the package put together properly.
Unfortunately, A&R now are kids on the Internet who don’t have any musical background. If Adele walked in and sang for them, they would say she was too fat and has an okay voice. That’s not what an A&R’s supposed to do. So now the production companies have been able to step up and become the A&R to cultivate that talent, polish and find that star-ism that they have. What is the catch? What is the hook for that artist? And capitalize on and build a plan around that.
What makes a hit is realness. It’s got to be believable. A listener wants to fall in love with something. They want it to be real. What makes a great movie is a great actor. You’ve got to have the right artist for the right song with the right delivery. It’s all got to be real and make sense.