Songwriter Profile: Brody Brown (Bruno Mars, Adele, Mark Ronson)

Brody Brown is exceptionally multi-dimensional—writing and producing hits, playing bass, piano, drums and guitar, as well as running bands as a musical director. A member of the songwriting and production team 1500 or Nothin’ along with Lamar “Mars” Edwards, James Fauntleroy and Larrance “Rance” Dopson, he works with a wide roster of contemporary artists.

On the day of our interview, Brown was headed off to the endeavor that has kept him ensconced in the studio for 14-hour days, four to five days a week, for the past year—the next Bruno Mars album.

Brown has been a professional musician since age 14, entering the business as a touring bassist. He developed his style by studying masters of the instrument like Motown’s James Jamerson, fusion great Jaco Pastorious and Welsh R&B rocker Pino Palladino. “I fused together everything in my own way,” he says.

Growing up in a household with ever-present music, Brown says that he listened mainly to jazz. “That’s what my mom would play all day, every day. And on Sunday it was gospel.” He also says that growing up in Compton, CA—“The real part of Compton,” he clarifies—gave him the impetus to do music. He says that this pursuit was a last resort that kept him from becoming another statistic in a hard neighborhood.

The eminent publishing executive Steve Lindsey, who signed Brown when he was 17, hooked him up with Bruno Mars. “I met Steve through a friend,” says Brown. “He taught me a lot—it was like going to school. He signed JR Rotem, Mike Elizondo and Kara DioGuardi, so everything he touches strikes a little bit of gold. ‘Do you want a record or do you want a hit record?’ That is his question.”

Collaborating with Mars and others, Brown co-wrote Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa’s “Young, Wild, & Free” [feat. Bruno Mars], “Fuck You” recorded by CeeLo Green, Mark Ronson’s “Feel Right” [feat. Mystikal] from the Grammy-nominated Uptown Special, Young Thug’s “Pacifier” and the six-time Grammy-nominated Bruno Mars hit “Grenade.”

For Adele, Brown co-wrote the stunning “All I Ask” from her stratospherically successful 25, with Mars, Philip Lawrence and the artist. Although they collaborated on two songs, the ballad was the one selected for the release. Brown is certainly fine with that. “Adele—she’s wonderful,” he enthuses. “Her voice is amazing, of course. She can reach the four corners of this earth with no mic. ‘All I Ask’ is a standard. There is nothing overthought or overproduced, just piano and vocal. We wanted to grab the essence of a Whitney Houston ballad—just a great song. And for Adele, she is expressing the truth.”

He appreciates what he notes is a rising trend of emotional authenticity in modern music. “It’s coming back to the real thing. EDM (electronic dance music) had its thing going on, but with a record you need more factors. If you can sing a song at a wedding, a graduation, a funeral or a birthday, that’s important. If you have three out of four, you’re good.”

In addition to Mars’ forthcoming release, other projects orbiting around Brody include Alicia Keys, Young Jeezy and Casey Veggies. He is also the executive producer of a project for the Danish soul band, Lukas Graham.

Another star in the Brody Brown constellation is his own artist endeavor, a band that he calls Groovy Maniacs. He explains, “It’s a blast from the past. We are doing ‘80s pop dance. Think Don Johnson, Miami Vice. Parliament, George Clinton—Prince meets Duran Duran and Queen. This is music that a lot of people are scared of. To bring back the authentic sounds like the Linn Drum, the ADSR (Attack-Decay-Sustain-Release) Juno and outboard gear. We’re not programming or DJing. We’re doing it in our way. It’s going to make you feel like 1985—even though I wasn’t born until 1989.”

Contact Angela Moreno at MSO PR.