The MTV Video Music Awards are less than two weeks away, and the countdown is on. One person we're particularly excited to see walk down the red carpet? Charlie Puth. The 23-year-old Jersey Shore native scored big this year collaborating with Wiz Khalifa for Furious 7's smash single "See You Again," which was a hit in 90 countries and scored two major nominations at the 2015 VMAs, for Best Hip Hop Video and Best Collaboration. But Puth is about more than just his hit song. With an album on the way and another song already climbing the charts (his collab with Meghan Trainor titled "Marvin Gaye"), he's gearing up to have an even bigger few months ahead.
Puth recently stopped by InStyle's New York offices to give us the lowdown about how he went from YouTube cover singer, to MTV nominee, to creating his own album Nine Track Mind, out this November. Scroll down to read some highlights from his visit.
Ellen DeGeneres gave him his big break.
The talk show host featured Puth in October 2011, after discovering him on YouTube. On the show, he performed a cover of Adele’s "Someone Like You". "It got me in front of 30 million people and pushed me into an area I never thought I would reach," he said.
He's often behind the scenes.
Puth graduated from Boston's Berklee College of Music in 2013, a school that also produced graduates such as John Mayer, Quincy Jones, and Steven Tyler. Prior to his own music taking off, he had already written and produced songs for big names including Stevie Wonder, Jason Derulo, and Trey Songz.
"See You Again" happened by chance.
Puth flew to L.A. for a writing trip after signing a publishing deal with Atlantic Records. At the same time, the producers of the Furious 7 movie were searching for a tribute song for Paul Walker. Puth wrote the hook to "See You Again" during his second day of the trip. When the producers selected his song, it was a game-changer for Puth. "It was the first time I knew I wanted to be artist Charlie, not just producer and songwriter Charlie," he said.
It was during that trip that "Marvin Gaye" came about, too.
On his first day in L.A., he wrote "Marvin Gaye" featuring Meghan Trainor. Several weeks later, the two were in the studio and Puth was invited to join Trainor’s MTrain Tour. They continued to collaborate while on the road. “I started beat boxing and she had the melody in her head," Puth said. "We essentially wrote a song by looking at each other on a bus. I didn’t know I could do that with anyone."
Those big choirs you hear are just a musical illusion.
It may seem like he always has a large choir in the background for his songs, but in reality he layers his voice to create that effect. “It sounds ridiculous on its own, but blended together it’s like when everyone is tone deaf at a Bruce Springsteen concert and those fifty thousand people singing in unison sound perfect," he said.
Catch Charlie Puth at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday, August 30th. He drops his debut album, Nine Track Mind, in November.