Courtesy of Red Bull Newsroom
While billions have heard his lyrics for Justin Bieber, just who is Poo Bear?
His next projects read like a who’s who of the musical A-list: potential No.1 records looming with Justin Bieber, Jennifer Lopez and David Guetta to name but a few.
But Poo Bear, whose real name is Jason Boyd, is arguably the world’s biggest music star you may not have heard of, an illustrious music career that includes writing with Bieber, 112, Kelly Rowland, Usher and Chris Brown to name a few.
But the man behind the mic and the mixing desk looks set to gain notoriety of his own with a documentary following his life in the music business on Red Bull TV, Afraid of Forever.
“I can be heavily influential but be out on the street and no one knows,” says Poo Bear. “I love not being recognized and being under the radar. It allows me to stay grounded and humble and working hard. It’s just knowing that I’m doing all this hard work and no one knows. I love it.”
The term ‘heavily influential’ is an understatement with 1,569,264,542 views on YouTube of the hit song ‘What Do You Mean’, which he wrote with Bieber.
His grounded nature lies in an initially poor upbringing in Connecticut, and there is a certain irony that the whirlwind of a music career he should be riding lends itself to a tornado, which ripped through the family’s two-bedroom apartment and left them homeless.
It eventually brought them to Atlanta, where he found himself discovering a music scene that would have laid untapped to him.
“That apartment wasn’t a lot but it was all we had,” he explains. “To be taken away by mother nature was unexplainable as it was a tornado. It was meant to be and a real turning point in my life, and a blessing in disguise.
“If it hadn’t have happened I probably would have been raised in Connecticut, with no outlets for music and entertainment. It forced us to move to Atlanta where kids were coming out selling millions of records.
“It inspired me. It was so inspiring in this new city full of music and entrepreneurship at a young age. It sculpted me in this Mecca. And moving up, it made me appreciate it even more knowing where we came from, not having anything at all, not being able to eat, and being hungry and going to sleep hungry.
“I don’t ever want to be in that position. I want to be able to help people in that position and give them light and help in any way I can.”
It is to that upbringing that he owes his unlikely nickname of Poo Bear, one of many pet names given to him by his mother but the one his school friends pounced on when they heard it.
For him, it was a name he initially tried to shrug off until things changed in his teenage years. “Girls then thought it was cute which is when I accepted my name,” he explains. “Before that I was not cool with it but then girls said ‘that’s so cute’ so I was like ‘alright I like my name’ and I tried to embrace it.”
As befits such a name, he is a larger than life character, opting to greet everyone he meets from Bieber to his fans with “happy birthday”, his approach to life to make “every day great like a birthday”.
Such positivity oozes through the music, and there is no question about his proudest musical achievement…the album Purpose.
It is undeniably his biggest seller but he also relishes it for being Bieber’s comeback album as well as the wider impact he likes to think it had globally.
“It was able to resonate around the world,” he says. “These are records that will help people survive and get through their hardest times.”
Of the artists he has yet to work with, Celine Dion is perhaps a surprise choice at No.1 but he has made a decision to mention her in every interview in the hope such a collaboration may finally reach fruition.
And aside from the documentary – something he calls “amazing, emotional and allowing me to reflect on my life” – the musical man that sleeps at best four to five hours a night has other concepts in the pipeline, potentially moving into films.
But the biggest change looming is impending parenthood; a facet he knows will change his life immeasurably.
“And I think having a kid is going to allow me to live more in the now and present and appreciate what I have but it will light more fire under me as I know I need to leave a legacy for my kid. I know that it will change my aspect on writing music. I’m not sure how.”
Despite the imminent arrival, he still plans to keep on churning out the hits. Bieber’s ‘What Do You Mean’ song took him just 15 minutes to write while he says his greatest hits take no more than 20 to 30 minutes.
But what is it that makes a great hit? He says: “It’s simplicity. It’s melodies that are infectious and include concepts not heard or done yet that can relate to you or that hit you and make you feel it is written specifically for me.”
Whatever the ingredient, he has it.
Poo Bear Factfile
Born: Connecticut, USA
Lives: California, USA
Age he co-wrote first song: 14
Awards: 4 x Grammy winner
Selection of songs
Dance With Me – 112
Caught Up – Usher
Work and Comeback – Kelly Rowland
Little More (Royalty) – Chris Brown
Where Are Ü Now, What Do You Mean?, Recovery,
Heartbreaker – Justin Bieber