PJ Bianco: More than just "the Disney Guy"

Los Angeles-based songwriter and producer PJ Bianco studied composition in college and interned with Quad Recording Studio and The Loft Recording Studio. After graduation, he signed a publishing deal and began to work with the Jonas Brothers. He’s since written and produced for a range of artists including Demi Lovato, Metro Station and Mýa. Recently he opened his own studio in North Hollywood’s arts district. He emphasizes drums in his recordings. Accordingly, his studio has a large live room.

Working with a range of artists keeps Bianco stimulated and productive. “The diversity is what keeps it fun to me,” he explains. “I can go from working on a complete R&B, Stacy Barthe-type record to working on a super pop record for somebody like Demi Lovato.

“If I had pigeonholed myself to one sound, I would have been stuck,” he continues. “Disney was a lot of fun back in 2007 to 2009. But then I started to get pegged as ‘The Disney Guy.’ I didn’t want that so I started working with artists like Metro Station, Stacy Barthe and LP.”

Where songwriting ends and production begins is difficult to pinpoint in Bianco’s case. But he knows, at least, that songwriting unfolds into production. “I look at the songwriting as the centerpiece of everything,” he says. “I see production as building a set around the songs. It’s much more about the songs but then the production is just as important. If you don’t produce it right, the song might not be as relevant as it could be. The songwriting is the most grueling part. Often times you’ll have a hit chorus. You have to fill in the pieces to get the rest. You might take two weeks rearranging them until an A&R person says it’s ready.”

The three most important things he’s learned as a producer and songwriter are:

• Pay extremely close attention to the vocal delivery.

• Make sure that the song is great before you spend a lot of time producing it.

• Pay attention to an artist’s live show. If an audience doesn’t respond, [the song is] probably not going to be that great. Anytime I’ve had success with an artist, they’ve had a great live show. If an artist fails, chances are their live show sucks.

Bianco has learned that listening to young people is exceptionally important as a songwriter and producer. Indeed, he counts it among the most important lessons he’s learned. “One of the things that fascinates me is the amount of genius coming from young talent,” he observes. “A lot of producers are quick to write-off an 18 or 19-year-old’s opinion on a song. But I embrace it. I’ll trust an 11-year-old’s opinion before I’ll trust a 40-year-old’s because kids have some sixth sense about what works. I don’t know where it comes from, but every time I collaborate with young people, I’m always blown away with how good it comes out because their instincts are so sharp.”

Engineers have often expressed a preference for a mic or other piece of studio gear. But Bianco emphasizes results over process. “A lot of hit records have been conceived on things like GarageBand, which is inexpensive or free with every Mac,” he says. “Arguing about what pre-amp or compressor you’re using is a waste of time. The focus should be more on the song; on the singer’s vocal delivery. That’s a stumbling block that a lot of young producers struggle with.”

Bianco believes strongly in artist development, both creatively and from a business standpoint. He’s seen firsthand the positive results it can deliver. “With the Jonas Brothers, we built a quarter-billion dollar franchise out of my basement,” he explains. “I’ll never neglect artist development because it yields the highest return. It’s the one most lucrative area a producer can be in. When you’re the first guy there, you get all of the songs.”

Recently Bianco produced and co-wrote LP’s single “Into The Wild.” The song earned ample buzz when it was featured in a Citibank commercial. He’s also collaborating with Warner Bros. Records chairman producer extraordinaire Rob Cavallo.

Contact Jeff Gordon / All Star Music Group, 818-789-5964, [email protected]