The 2013 Grammy Nominations Concert took place on Dec. 6 at the Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles, and was televised in the U.S. on CBS. Several of the artists who performed or were presenters at the event were also announced as nominees for the 56th Annual Grammy Awards, which will be held on January 26, 2014, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Here is what this Grammy Nominations Concert entertainer said backstage in the press room.
Best R&B Performance: “How Many Drinks?” featuring Kendrick Lamar
Best Rap/Sung Collaboration: “Power Trip” with J. Cole
How do you feel about your Grammy nominations?
I’m enthralled, honestly. I really didn’t expect to be nominated, so I’m still kind of letting it sink in.
What’s it like working with your girlfriend Nazanin Mandi on her upcoming album?
It’s frustrating. No, I’m kidding. As if we need anything else to argue about. When you fight so hard to get in with artists and try to get in their head, and when you feel that you finally get some connection, and can get in a rhythm, that’s when the music really comes, and the songs kind of write themselves.
The honest truth is that this experience has been, in that sense, one of the most liberating and the most fun, because we already feel akin. We have an understanding, and that rhythm just kind of came about more naturally than I could have even expected. So it’s a lot of fun, man. It’s great.
What was it like working with a country artist like Keith Urban?
One of my goals was — it still is — to write a song that would cross over into whatever genre you want to put my music in. Country music is that genre that for the greatest-written songs. If I have ever written a song that even made it to country radio, it’s a huge testament to my abilities. I miss great songwriting, and I look to country music. [Keith Urban] being a country music superstar, an incredible musician, an incredible person, and finding that out firsthand has been really cool, man.
What are some of your favorite country albums with great songwriting?
When classic rock became kind of more country, it was kind of that blend. Like the Eagles. You take any one of those albums. You think of the Grateful Dead, bands like that. We’re kind of in between, where it was still rock and roll, but still rock and roll, but it still had that soul.
And I think you can pick any artists. It’s one of those genres where the artists thrive and the music thrives because of the community and because of the honesty. They write songs about cars, and it’s incredible. There’s not too many people who can do that.