Unlike a conventional recording artist whose creations are tightly contained by style and genre, songwriter and producer Nick Furlong is able to create across a much wider spectrum. Working with dance artists like Diplo, Steve Aoki and the late Avicii, rockers Papa Roach and Blink-182, and pop artists Jordin Sparks, Colbie Caillat and Leona Lewis, offers him expansive opportunities for a colorful sonic palette, both as a writer and producer.
“It allows me the ability to adapt to a lot of different rooms, and figure out how I can add value, as opposed to just focusing on one strong suit,” he says of his variety of endeavors. “It makes it easier for me to do my job, because I can cover more ground as opposed to doing only one thing, especially when that thing isn’t in demand. It’s ‘adapt and survive’ in the modern music industry.”
Now 32, Furlong was drawn to music very early in life. “When I was nine years old I used to take lyric books from CDs and copy the lyrics down verbatim. I would think I had written a song. What that transcended into was figuring out that songwriting was creating something of my own. By the time I was 15, I was writing full-fledged songs by myself, mainly rap lyrics, which was cool because it instilled a lot of rhythm in me.”
Next came attention to hooks and melodies. “I started listening to hooks and that was my introduction to melody which I started applying to a more worldly view of music. The thing I was missing was chords, so I learned to make them the summary of the song.”
Furlong’s knowledge of hit-making alchemy expanded as he listened. “I’ve always been drawn to pop music. In the ‘80s, when rock was more in a glam stage, there were power ballads. Van Halen and Bon Jovi were able to do these massive choruses with a lot of melody.” His experience deepened from 2011 until 2013 when he was developed under the tutelage of OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder.
“Working with Ryan and analyzing how he is able to construct a melody was the university phase of my career. Everything I learned that was pop-oriented: The math, the rhythm, how many syllables are being said per line, do they match up and is there a pattern, and finding patterns, notes and rhythms. That’s mainly how I construct a topline. In doing that with heavier bands like Papa Roach, I try to bring that into the room, to take them out of their element and do something they wouldn’t ordinarily do.”
In collaboration with electronic artists, Furlong is a topline writer. “There have been instances when Steve Aoki sent me a track and said, ‘I need a lyric over this music bed; let me see what you’ve got. And I’ll come back with something and we’ll go back and forth two or three times until we have something we both mutually agree is strong and then boom!”
The single, “The Nights,” by the late Avicii, featured Furlong’s lyrics and melody, plus his lead vocal. “We created something that was very far left––I wanted to do this Irish rock acoustic thing that had a bit of a pub-oriented singalong feel to it. That was created and then passed around to a lot of managers and executives. I was just trying to find the right home for it, then a light bulb went off in my brain and I sent it to Avicci’s team.”
In 2016, Furlong founded a producer and publishing company, Attaboy Music to develop songwriters and producers. He is now working on a solo project with a wide range of collaborators. “It’s all over the place,” he says. “I’m engaged in the art of there being no rules or boundaries.”
Moving forward into the future, Furlong maintains his open viewpoint. “If I’m not seeing something, maybe it’s me––I need to shift my own perspective. And I think that’s essentially how you expand and grow in your career or personal life. Growth is shifting perspective and asking yourself the questions you wouldn’t otherwise ask.”
Contact Ashley Lanaux, [email protected]