PARTYNEXTDOOR isn’t that hard to figure out. Yes, there has been a shroud of mystery that has covered the Drake-endorsed OVO singer, but once you get a chance to know him, his motives become crystal clear. You see, Party is only here for the music.
On Tuesday, PND hosted a get-together in the newly opened MCM store in the SoHo section of New York City to celebrate a collaboration between the high-end German luxury brand and Beats by Dr. Dre. The link-up includes special make-ups of the Beats Studio Wireless headphones, the Beats Pill speaker and in-ear Tour headphones. To properly mark the occasion, Party performed for a small crowd of music industry and fashion folks.
During a two-hour DJ set by New York do-it-all Vashtie, hip-hop stars like Fabolous, Jadakiss and Joey Bada$$ swirled around the space, as the crowd waited for PND to grace the stage. Then, at about 9:30 p.m., Party emerged for a short two-song performance, before disappearing back into the night.
His Tuesday night showing was brief, but hours before the show, Party sat with MTV News for a lengthy interview to talk about his creative process, private persona, working with Drake and his love for the music.
MTV: This is a rare occasion; you’re a very private fellow. Why is that? Why in this day and age do you find that you like to keep things to yourself when everybody likes to share so much?
PARTYNEXTDOOR: All I care about is the music, that’s probably why. Me and Tyler, my friend, we were talking about this on the way here. It’s just a lot of extra sh-t that people do that I don’t think is necessary.
MTV: One of the extras that comes with it is that you get to come to New York City and Beats By Dr. Dre calls and MCM calls and they say, “Hey, we got this cool collaboration” and they want to collaborate with you. What did you think when you first heard about Beats by Dr. Dre and MCM?
PND: I didn’t know what to think, but when I first walked into the room and seen these [picks up a pair of headphones], they looked f--kin’ ill. Very, very ill. This is something you gotta add to your collection. I f--k with it.
MTV: You know a lot about collaborations, and it’s funny, because I feel like you carefully choose your own collaborations. There aren’t many people that can say they have a track with PARTYNEXTDOOR. What makes a good collaboration to you?
PND: A blend of vibes. I think it’s cool to do songs with people that like -- it has to be a contrast, you know? Bring something new, mixing their vibe with mine and creating a completely new vibe. I’m just very picky for those reasons.
MTV: Just to kind of go back to the Beats by Dr. Dre and MCM, that is a completely new vibe with these headphones, you can’t get that anywhere else. Do you use Beats in your personal life and MCM? Do you mix that in with your personal style?
PND: I don’t know if I ever mentioned this before? [Turns to his friend Tyler and asks if he’s ever mentioned what he’s about to say in an interview].
I made my entire first tape using Beats headphones -- the studio headphones and halfway through the second one, because I finally started making a home studio. But I record and make all my beats with the Beats headphones.
MTV: Let’s go back into that, because your process, I read about that. Obviously, props to Fader magazine, they did a cover and got a highly coveted first interview with you, which everybody read. I got to learn a little bit about your process. You like to work alone?
MTV: Tell me, what’s a PARTYNEXTDOOR recording session like, if you could describe it?
PND: I work on a lot of things at once, like I flip through sh-t. My mind works so fast and I have so many ideas, so I might write something down in my phone that might work better for another song that I was working on. So, everything’s like a puzzle to me and I like to figure out things on my own, be in my own state of mind and have clarity.
MTV: You obviously write your own material and produce your own material. Are you recording your own sessions? Are you engineering, as well?
PND: Yeah, yeah, I record and engineer, in Beats headphones.
MTV: How does this work? I’m trying to picture you running back and forth. Do you keep the mic by the console?
PND: Yeah, I keep the mic in front of me. I just have the stand in front of me and I sit down and record myself and just click everything.
MTV: Why does that work better for you? There’s some people who need a party in the studio to give the audience that party vibe.
PND: It’s faster; it’s way faster. I can’t wait on an engineer to click record and to cut vocals out and to mute sh-t; so with me, I know exactly what I want. I click it and mute it, record, erase, it’s way faster. I work better that way.
MTV: Going back to the private nature of PARTYNEXTDOOR, when you listen to your music, it’s very far-reaching ... it’s popular. Do you have any aspirations of being a pop star? And I don’t mean Justin Bieber, or the mold that pop stars are cut from, but pop meaning popular?
PND: I’m going to make the music I make regardless and it’s always going to be driven by rhythm and blues and hopefully it becomes popular. But I don’t cater to, like, "OK, I want to make music that’s going to fit in this pop world or go on the charts, etcetera, etcetera." Hopefully, enough people like it so it becomes popular.
MTV: When you talk about how it’s rooted in rhythm and blues, who are some of your inspirations? Because I listen to your music and it’s very now, it’s very today. Just the other day me and a friend were debating Boyz II Men versus Jodeci ... You feel more like Jodeci than Boyz II Men.
PND: [Laughs] Both of those influenced me heavily. 112, [Blackstreet], all those guys; Joe, Jamie Foxx -- that whole era.
MTV: If you had to pick Boyz II Men versus Jodeci, who would you pick?
PND: Jodeci, but if my mom was listening I’d say Boyz II Men. But I would personally rather listen to Jodeci.
MTV: In your music, I hear a lot of conflict. It doesn’t feel like the flowers and the candy and the bring-you-home-by-10 p.m. type of music -- it’s free love; it’s conflicted. Is that where you are in your personal life? Do you draw from personal experiences when writing these records?
PND: Only personal experiences. So, if I’m not going through something, I won’t record. ... I can make beats all day and wait for me to lyrically fill that vibe and void, but if I have nothing to write about, I’m not going to write anything.
MTV: What does that say about your audience? How do you connect to your audience so effectively?
PND: [Takes a long pause] By giving them everything. Hopefully, things that they haven’t seen. So, maybe they appreciate the fact that I’m so private and finally when I get on the stage, they get to see a bit of my personality and hopefully they like me for me. And they accept me when I get onstage.
MTV: The name PARTYNEXTDOOR comes from Fruity Loops, a production filter that reminded you of what [producer] 40 from OVO sounded like. Now you’re with OVO -- was this a plan? Was this destiny? How does this work out?
PND: You can say it’s destiny. I’m glad I’m with OVO; it’s a dream come true. And I’m very inspired by them, so yeah it’s a dream.
MTV: What is it about working with Drake that complements what you do? Because he seems to be the type to just let you do what you want to do and supports it. What’s the chemistry?
PND: He lets me do whatever I want to do, and he accepts it and he understands it a lot. Us being from very similar places, he really understands the things that I say. The lingo that we have, the culture that I was raised in, he could understand because a lot of his friends are Jamaican. I was raised in a Jamaican household, all my friends are Jamaican, so we just relate a lot culturally. It helps when a superstar that’s making #1's, #1's, #1's, actually understands you.
MTV: Then it feels like the relationship jumps up a level, because he drops this mixtape on us, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late, and you’re featured on two songs, have your own solo song and show up as a producer on “Legend.” ... What type of conversations do you guys have about the direction of your OVO sound?
PND: He just trusts me and I’m appreciative of it. I appreciate it. I guess he trusts my opinion on the OVO sound and whatever I contribute to it.
MTV: I’m assuming there’s more music coming, maybe on Views From the 6 or maybe on PARTYNEXTDOORTHREE?
PND: Yeah, definitely more music coming.
MTV: We talked about your music being very conflicted and every good story has conflict and resolution. Are you searching for resolution? Are you searching for love ... Are you searching for that flowers-and-candy relationship?
PND: No, but I go through phases and I don’t know if everybody else does. I haven’t asked, maybe it’s a little weird to ask my friends that, but I go through phases where sometimes I want to be in a relationship, sometimes I don’t.
MTV: We have a term for that in the States, I don’t know if y’all got it up there in Canada. We call it cuffing season.
PND: [Laughs]. Yeah, I guess so. Sometimes it’s cuffing season.
MTV: And it all inspires the music.
MTV: What inspired “Let’s Get Married”?
PND: An older woman. It’s an older woman, talking to them and finding out where they are in life. Me being 21, it’s interesting to talk to older women and see where they’re at. So, I guess -- I don’t want to say I was in a relationship with an older woman, but I was friends with an older woman and her needs inspired the song.
MTV: Does a lot of your music come from that? Different perspectives?
PND: Definitely. Definitely.
MTV: What about personal relationships ... You’ve been rumored to be linked to Kehlani. Is there anything you can say about that?
PND: Yeah, I have no comment.
MTV: So you’re here in the MCM store, in New York, SoHo, and Beats By Dr. Dre and they have this great collaboration. You’re going to perform later tonight. What goes into your performance? How do you go about bringing these songs to life? Because it’s a different experience.
PND: Bringing it to life? I’m huge on visuals. I love visuals ... but today it’s more about executing with the predicament I’m in. But usually at a PND live show, there’s a lot of visual, because I like to think that my music is visual and people would like to see visuals ... I like it to be a movie. Hopefully tonight we can make it somewhat of a movie and somewhat of a vibe.
MTV: You’re not afraid to use Auto-Tune in the studio --
PND: Yeah, just for the sake of where music is at. If I was making music 10 years ago, I definitely wouldn’t be using it. PNDTWO, I didn’t use a lot of Auto-Tune on a lot of my R&B songs, but I don’t care to tell people that because it’s more of a creative thing. It’s more of being a producer to be like, this is what this song needs to catch people’s ear. If I want the song to be in that lane it has to have this sort of vibe to it. But yeah, I don’t perform [live] with Auto-Tune.
MTV: So the onstage experience is way different?
MTV: I appreciate your time and your energy and look forward to the show tonight.
PND: Thank you, sir.