Los Angeles native Eric Bellinger got his songwriting and production start in 2002 as a performer in a string of boy bands. But as 2010 dawned, he craved bigger challenges and segued into writing. Initially signed to Epic Records in April of that same year by veteran record execs Max Gousse and Tommy Motola, Bellinger later inked a publishing deal with Sony ATV. He’s notable for his contributions to Chris Brown’s Grammy-winning 2011 record F.A.M.E. but his writing and production repertoire also includes Justin Bieber, Usher and Nicki Minaj.
His writing approach is at once both regimented and varied when he works with other artists. “My formula is the same but the process and approach is always different, depending on the artist,” he explains. “I always try to make sure it’s their vibe and that whatever I’m doing, I have them in mind. Conceptually, I’m picking their brain: what’s going on in your life, what’s going on in your relationships? If I can channel their energy and connect with their frequency, they’re more likely to feel connected to the song, even if they didn’t write it.”
As an experienced vocalist, he’s positioned to take an artist-level approach in the studio. “Anyone that’s worked with me will tell you I’m tough,” he admits. “They might think that their last take was their best, but I’ll say, ‘Let’s get it again’ or ‘Try it like this.’ Since I’m able to sing, I can do a quick example of how I want it to go. An engineer may not be able to sing the vocal.”
There’s also value, Bellinger finds, in remaining constantly productive. “If you take a break and then come back to creating the way you were six months ago, that’s foreign; it’s old. The cadences, melodies and concepts all switch up. You have to stay in it. I never stop. Ever since I started in 2010, I’ve put out at least three albums every year, not even including the songs I’ve written [for other artists]. There’s so much new content now that if you’re not the new artist, you’re the old artist.”
As a writer, Bellinger allows himself to be guided by the process. “The beat tells me what to write,” he says. “There’s science behind the beat; behind the tempo. If it’s slow, [the song’s] slower. If it’s fast, up-tempo, it’s gotta be fast. Automatically, I think either ‘turn it up’ or ‘calm down.’ If you listen to the music, there’s a minor chord and a major chord. A minor chord is sad, a major chord is happy. If I have a major chord, up-tempo beat, most likely it’s going to be an up-tempo part of the song. If it’s a minor chord, slow beat, it’s probably going to be a breakup song. Before I even start writing, I know these things.”
To producers and songwriters on the rise, he counsels hard work and patience. “Be prepared for the time it’ll take to get there,” he urges. “Often now, with people seeing overnight success on Instagram, that’s changed the perception of what it takes to make it. Be patient and make sure that your sound is unique. Be yourself because it’s the only way we’ll be able to see you in a crowd.”
Bellinger recorded his latest album Eazy Call last year and aims to release it later in 2018. “We’re just kind of playing it off the single; making sure we’re ready,” he explains.