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Gaga Producer: She Was a 'Glittery Mermaid' on 'Artpop' Sessions

DJ White Shadow on arranging R. Kelly collaboration and drinking whiskey with Jay Z

November 11, 2013 12:45 PM ET
DJ White Shadow and Lady Gaga
DJ White Shadow and Lady Gaga
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for 42 West

Over the last two years, DJ White Shadow has spent the majority of his time working as Lady Gaga's producer for Artpop, reprising his Born This Way role as one of Gaga's primary producers. On Artpop, he lent his expertise to several tracks, incluing "Applause," "Do What U Want" and "Swine." And their producer-artist love affair doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon. On Sunday, he opened for Gaga at her album release 'ArtRave' event in Brooklyn. Rolling Stone spoke with DJ White Shadow about creating Artpop, hooking up with R. Kelly and drinking whiskey with Jay Z.

The New Immortals: Lady Gaga

Working with Lady Gaga in the studio, what was her overall mood while creating Artpop?
She is always in a good mood when it comes to creating and writing. It is her favorite thing in the world, so of course she is always upbeat and fun when we are in the studio. It’s amazing to watch, actually. She has been a glittery mermaid all the way through making this record.

How did you all hook up with R. Kelly?
We all love R. Kelly, but being from Chicago, him and I have run across paths many times. I asked LG if she wanted to do a song with RK and she said yes, so I put them on the phone together and they had a great conversation. LG talked about the meaning of the song, and the rest just kind of fell into place. I am so thankful for everyone that helped make the song happen. It is my favorite.

Did Gaga have a theme present on Artpop?
It is just supposed to be fun music with meaning. The album is truly an album. You can hear the inter-connectivity of the songs and how it comes together.

What kind of sound were you looking to get out of the tracks?
I was just trying to make something that pushed people’s way of thinking a little bit. I mean, we release a single at 140bpm. It took people a little bit to catch on, 'cause they were not hearing anything at this tempo. Same with the rest of the tracks – something a little off from the norm to get people thinking about possibilities.

What stands out in your mind about the sessions?
She wrote this album as we were traveling around the world for the last two years, and we wrote so many songs together. Everything was fun to do. I really liked working on everything, to be honest. Working on "Sexxx Dreams" was pretty crazy. We stayed up for, like, 20 hours straight doing that song. She was in a zone. We never work on one song and finish it and move on. They all get worked on in rotation until literally the day we have to turn it into Interscope.

Were there any extra funny moments with Gaga while working on Artpop?
Lady Gaga is a very funny person. When we are not writing music, we are goofing around doing something or just watching TV and laughing. We had some really good times over the last couple years. We went on a safari together in South Africa and walked through the favelas and played soccer with kids in Brazil. We had dinner with Jeff Koons in New York and drank whiskey with Jay Z, Rihanna, Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow in London. We were in Moscow in the snow and on a boat in the Sydney Harbor. It has been quite fun sharing this whole experience with such a disarmingly lovely and talented person. I hope you can hear it in the record.

What’s next for you?
I am releasing another EP on DECON records in the next couple weeks. It’s experimental trap. Fuckstep. A sum of all parts. Thrashno.

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