Rodney Jerkins has crafted hits for the biggest names in pop music. Beyonce, Lady Gaga and, more recently, Kylie Minogue have all turned to the man better known as Darkchild for a radio smash. That’s all in a day’s work for one of the hottest producers in the game but he now faces the biggest challenge of his career — reviving wife Joy Enriquez‘s chart fortunes. You see, Jerkins worked on his better-half’s debut album but failed to deliver a hit. As he told me in our chat, he was simply too distracted by meeting the woman of his dreams.
While Joy’s self-titled debut album fizzled on the US album chart (it performed considerably better in Australia and New Zealand), the story has a happy ending. The loved-up pair got married and had three adorable children. Now, they want to write a new chapter — with the talented vocalist returning to the music business for a second chance at superstardom. It won’t be easy but Darkchild is confident that House Of Joy is the perfect vehicle for reigniting interest in his wife’s career. Read what the super-producer had to say about Joy’s comeback, their hit NUVOtv show and family life after the jump.
What was the kind-of impetus for Joy restarting her career at this point of life?
You know, we recently sat down and Joy said she wanted to get back in the studio, she wanted to start recording. We have three children and I said ‘listen, if you’re serious about that we need to talk about a platform to get your music heard’. I don’t believe in the old primitive way of thinking we’ll just make a record that will go to radio anymore.
So we started talking about ideas and we thought we had a really funny show because her whole family lives at the house with us and her balancing the music and the kids — that could be really great for people who want positive content and want to tune in to good family TV, so we just started developing the idea.
Joy has an amazing voice. Her debut album had some great tracks.
Yeah, she has a big voice and so we’re just really focused on trying to do records that really just showcase the voice.
What kind of sound are you going for? Is it going to be the same kind of urban-pop mix or is it going to be more like the Christian music she recorded later in her career?
For the first season we did stuff that’s really soulful and piano-orientated and if we get picked up for a second season we’ll grow into a… just grow the sound more. She’s been doing records kinda like on both sides, you know. She’s been doing love records but then she also will do some Christian and gospel stuff as well. For example in the first two episodes that came out last week, we had two R&B records. This week is a gospel record, you know so it just depends on what the episode is talking about and what she’s feeling like, you know what I mean?
All the music is based off different scenarios that happen on the show. So she may be singing to one of the children on each episode and whatever she’s singing will be alive on iTunes right after the show, which is very unique because no one has ever done that, I mean we’ve seen those shows like Glee and The Voice do things that are similar but those are all covers, this is all original music — so every week the public will get an original song.
That’s amazing. How many songs did you have to have prepared then before the show went to air?
Oh man we were working while we were shooting, you know what I mean? The good thing is the first season is just 8 episodes so it’s 8 songs so by the end of it we’ll repackage all 8 songs into an EP but because it was 8 it definitely was a lot of work because we were shooting and recording at the same time.
Has that kind of workload put stress on your family life?
You know, Joy is really good at balancing it. The one thing about her is that when she’s in the studio working, if it’s time for the kids to be fed or for the kids to play or whatever she will literally stop the session and do what she has to do with the kids. Nothing comes before the kids – no music, no nothing. We’ve been really good at balancing though, she’s been talking about getting back on the road and she’s like I wanna get on a tour bus and take the kids with us on the road, like she’s all about the kids.
So this is a full-blown come back? She wants to get back into releasing albums and being on the radio and doing the whole thing?
Oh yeah, definitely. She definitely wants to get back into the whole thing and eventually move into releasing an album.
How is it different producing songs for your wife as compared to doing a song with Lady Gaga or Beyonce?
So much harder! It’s much harder because there’s way more pressure. My wife is very… when we’re in the studio, because we’re married she’ll just say whatever she feels to me and I always say ‘if I was just a producer you wouldn’t have said that to me!’ but because we’re married she can say whatever she wants you know?
It’s different, it’s totally different from when I’m working with other artists because we are married and so you know to be honest with you, if I’m working with another artist and there’s something that I don’t agree with and they don’t agree with, the session ends. It just ends and that’s just it. But with my wife I gotta go to bed with her later so if we’re upset with one another we gotta figure out how to make up later so it’s a different type of pressure.
Further down the line, do you see her going for more of a current sound or something more timeless?
You know I think it’s just going to be a mixture to be honest. One thing about Joy is that it’s all about how she feels so we’ve done records that are real just classic and soulful records but then she’ll sit around and she’ll want something that feels up-tempo and different from what she normally does, so I think what we’ll try to do is just make a healthy record that has a combination of sounds and genres.
Joy is a student of music. She grew up listening to Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey but she’s also a big fan of musicals, she’s a big fan of so many different things, it’s figuring out a healthy way to bring those things together, you know what I mean?
Have you been able to keep up with your own production jobs during filming or are you concentrating on Joy exclusively at the moment?
The last four months I’ve been focused on just the show and Joy’s stuff and then once we got done finishing the show I got back into the studio working on stuff for Mariah Carey, Kylie Minogue and Jennifer Lopez, so I’m getting back into it but a big part of my time is just making sure the show and Joy’s stuff is done right.
You just mentioned three amazing artists. Do you have anything to say about any of those projects?
You know what, I always just try to… the one thing I’ve always practiced is try to compliment the artists stuff that they already have, and bring something fresh to the table so whenever I work with an artist I never go in with an idea I just want to always bring something fresh to them but at the same time complimenting them like I had a chance to work with Jessie J and it was really fun working with her and again it’s the same thing – just bringing what I know to the table and how to really compliment the voice.
Is there anything from Joy’s early material that you really like?
The stuff that I did, we both didn’t like! She didn’t like what I did. That’s what the whole show is about. She was like, ‘you were supposed to give me a hit and you didn’t give me a hit’ so you know, she didn’t like what I did, I didn’t like what I did so you know we’re going to make up for that now.
So Rodney what went wrong then the first time around?
Man she walked in my studio and I was like I’m going to marry that girl one day so I got sidetracked. That was in 1999, you know, and I got sidetracked and she always says when she came to my studio the first couple weeks, she was out in Jersey for a couple weeks and I took her to family barbecues and just got to know her and I didn’t really get a chance to hone in on making the hit so you know, now she’s like you owe me for all that lost time!
If things really explode and happen for Joy, do you think it will affect your family dynamic?
Yeah, I mean I think it’s going to be a great thing for our family because you know we do everything together right now so if she does well, the show does well, we’ll just be doing more stuff together, more traveling together, all of that.
House Of Joy airs on NUVOtv Thursdays at 10pm.
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