You might remember rocker Kevin Rudolf for his break out hit “Let It Rock” in 2008. Well, Kevin Rudolf is back and he’s inspiring the masses with his new track “Don’t Give Up.”
GlobalGrind got the chance to chit-chat with Kevin about his new single “Don’t Give Up,” how he met Birdman, and what it’s like being a part of YMCMB’s musical army.
Check out our exclusive interview below!
“Let It Rock” is very inspirational. What was your creative process on “Don’t Give Up?”
I feel like the song just happened. I spent a lot of time in L.A. after a couple of my records blew up, and I got into producing and writing for a lot of other artists out there. I got into that whole game. Then when I got back to New York—I grew up in New York—I felt completely inspired all over again. I felt like I had done enough of writing songs for other people that I wanted to really say something. I think what music’s lacking right now is there’s really no message. No one’s saying anything. At best, they’re just expressing themselves. They’re talking about their own stuff. I just felt like I really wanted to put something back in the world that inspires people, says something, and means something.
Has there ever been a time in your music career where you felt like giving up?
Every day! No, not every day, but there’s times where you don’t feel 100 percent yourself. That’s who I make music for, when you don’t feel it and you need something to hold onto or when you hear a song that’s inspiring in the world that’s what I want to give people.
You’ve written songs for so many people. Has there ever been a time where you’ve given away a song that you wish you kept for yourself?
That’s the hardest thing, is knowing when to separate and what to do yourself. I move in cycles. If I’m working on my album, anything that I feel can work for me, I will probably keep. I tend to write more for myself in general. Then give away what doesn’t work sometimes. I just wrote a song for Natasha Bedingfield a while back that’s going to be on Faith Hill’s album. Who would’ve thought that would happen! For example I wrote a song for Fefe Dobson, for her album, and Selena Gomez took it. I did a song with Three Six Mafia, and I took it. I did a record with Lil Wayne called, “Spit In Your Face,” and it was supposed to be his single right after Tha Carter III came out.
You actually got your start playing guitar with Timbaland. You did Nelly Furtado’s “Say It Right?”
Yeah, Nelly Furtado, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Timberlake, Lil Kim, LL Cool J. The first thing I ever did with Timbaland was a record in 2003. It was the first night I ever met Timb. He was doing a record called, “The Jumpoff” for Lil Kim. That was the first thing I ever played guitar on. You remember that record?
Yeah, “Jumpoff,” that was a hit!
I love that record!
When did you start playing instruments?
I do everything. I started out as a guitar player. I was one of those kids that would practice like 8 hours a day. My mother actually said something really smart to me. She said, “Whatever you put in, you’ll get out,” so I thought, that makes sense. I’ll practice like 8 hours a day, and be better than everyone else. That’s an easy solution right there. I started practicing a lot. I was in a lot of bands growing up in New York as a kid.
I was like one of those young prodigy guitar player kids. Then I got so frustrated playing in bands because there was so much drama dealing with three or four other people, and I thought, I’m just going to take this into my own hands. I’m going to get a keyboard. Technology was changing. You could suddenly make everything yourself, so I got a sampler. I got a computer. I got a keyboard. I started making beats, and I started writing songs. Started to explore what I could do by myself. That’s how I taught myself to play, but once you’re confident with one instrument, you can teach yourself the other instruments.
Can you tell us about the first time you met Birdman, and how you ended up signing to Cash Money?
Slim and Baby, who would’ve thought I would’ve ended up on Cash Money? Before me, everybody on the roster was a rapper. There wasn’t even a Drake. It was pretty much all hip-hop, straight hip-hop. I was working at the Hit-Factory, and I met Slim. He had heard a couple songs that I had written, and he said, “I’m interested in signing you.” I didn’t know what to make of it for a while. We kept building, and I kept giving them records. I’d come back every week or two with a new song. I think they were in the process of re-doing their deal, and Wayne coming out with Tha Carter III. They were moving to the next level. I was in the right place at the right time. Fortunately for me, it was my time to come out. Before I knew it, “Let It Rock” was on the radio, and we were off to the races.
Can fans expect any YMCMB features on your new album?
If it happens naturally, then absolutely! If it doesn’t happen organically, then no.
Have you spoken to Fred Durst because he signed to Cash Money.
I think we’re working on something this week. He’s a cool dude. I like him.
Who were some of your musical inspirations?
I take from everything. I listen to the radio, but I don’t try to write things that sound specifically like the radio. I grew up on rock. I grew up on Van Halen. I grew up on Jimi Hendrix, and all the guitar players that inspire most guitar players. I grew up on a lot of hip-hop that was in the air as a kid growing up in New York City in the ’90s, like Jay-Z, Nas, everything that was in the air. I love classical music, New Age music, Imperial stuff, and at the time a lot of electronic music, house, drum and bass. All kinds of records! I also loved hearing Madonna and Cyndi Lauper. Prince! I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I think as a producer, you don’t have specific influences as much as a regular artist.
What are your thoughts on Axl Rose respectfully declining his Rock n’ Roll ‘Hall of Fame’ induction?
I think it’s awesome! I’m so sick of award shows. F*ck award shows. Everybody should just make real music, and stop getting awards for bullsh*t. I mean everybody gets an award for ‘Best Single,’ ‘Best Album’… It’s like I want to hear some real music. I want to hear people write music from the heart. To me it shows that he’s still rock n’ roll. I applaud him for that. We need more of that.
Music needs people to stand up and not be afraid to speak out.
We’re in a culture now where everyone worships success. They don’t care if it’s quality. They don’t care if it adds to the world, as long as it generates money. People come to me everyday saying I need another record like “Let It Rock.” No you don’t! You just want the thing that makes money. You just want something that generates income for you, and makes you look good. You don’t want another “Let It Rock!”
Are you working on a new album? Can we expect one from you this year?
Yeah, the album will probably be out in the middle of the summer at this point. I’m working on an album. I have an amazing second single after “Don’t Give Up.” I believe for the first time I’m really going to show the world and the fans what I’m about really, musically. There will still be some up-tempo records and maybe few collabs here and there. I really wanted to show more of my musicality, and continue with my message. I started something with “Let It Rock,” but it really wasn’t understood. That song was the predecessor to “Don’t Give Up” because what I’m saying is be yourself, don’t give a f*ck, don’t give up. Be yourself has really been my message from the beginning with these records, which is what “Let It Rock” means.