If the name Denisea “Blu June” Andrews does not ring a bell for you, don’t worry it will.
This talented songwriter has already written for some of the biggest artists in the industry; including Rihanna and most recently Mariah Carey. Based in Atlanta and partnered with the incomparable Brittany “Coney Gurl”Coney (co-writer and producer), the duo seems poised to take the industry by storm.
How did you get your start in music?
Blu: I guess I’ve kinda been doing music all my life, just with my family and I was always singing in church, and we kinda had a little group growing up. So, music has always been a part of my life, but I didn’t really get started in writing music until I met her (*pointing to producer and co-writer Brittany Coney). I think it was 2009, I graduated from a college in 2007 and kinda dibbled and dabbled a little bit. My brother was a producer and I used to write to some of his tracks. At the time I was trying to be an artist and that didn’t really work out. But, then I met Brittany and she was like, “Ya, know you should just try songwriting” and whatever, and that’s kinda how it all got started. I probably got serious around 2010ish, like really going for it, she and I. So I moved to Atlanta in 2011 and that’s when things kinda happened. I don’t have like this long drawn out story about how I’ve been writing for like 10 years. It kinda just happened.
And how did the both of you (Blu & Brittany Coney) meet and start collaborating?
Brittany: Uhmm, we met because a rapper hit me up on Facebook and was like, “I ran across your Myspace page a couple times. Can you send me a couple of tracks?”. And I was like, “This is random, but ok. I’ll do that”. So, I sent him some tracks. And he happened to be from Tallahassee, where Blu’s from. And he hit me back like, “I love the tracks, I’m gonna have this girl that I met come over and do the hook”. And I don’t even think he knew her that well at that point or they had just met. But, he sent me the record back and I was like, “Oh, my God who is that girl? I’m looking for a writer. Who is that?”, I just had to know. And immediately, I told her, “You’re talented, I support you 100%, let’s do it, move up here and it’s history”. I feel like things happened, so fast for her because she just has a presence. She has an aura about her and you can hear it in the songs. And I think that’s what made me gravitate towards her. And, that’s how we met and it’s been “compadre” ever since.
Blu: The chemistry I have with her, I haven’t really found it with too many people. Like, I have my picks and choices of people that I work with on a consistent basis, but she and I just have a chemistry that just kinda works no matter what … it’s gonna be big.
And how important has it been to have someone like Brittany, who is a talent in her own right, to support you and write with you?
Blu: Man, it’s been so important because it’s like a support system. People get it twisted. I’m a creative person, but it’s not always like I have my best days. Like I’m not always gonna go into the studio and write a smash and that’s what people think you’re supposed to do. So, on those days when I can’t quite find the melody, or a concept, and I’m kinda everywhere she can be that person. She can be like, “I think you should do this, try to go this way”, “It’s ok if you’re not feeling it today. Let’s turn the beat off and let’s try something different” or “Let’s just not write today”. And like I said, she makes a lot of the beats too so, it’s just having somebody to help you channel that energy and inspiration when you can’t find it or someone who can help you make decisions, because it’s so much more than the music. I mean, what do you think Brittany?
Brittany: I would say when in doubt outsource. A lot of times you can’t do it on your own, especially what we are trying to do and sometimes you just need somebody else to say, “I think you’re over-thinking it” or “Why don’t you try this?”, ya know what I mean? That’s definitely one of my mottos, “When in doubt, outsource”, because you can’t do everything. It’s always good to have a team.
You mentioned church and gospel music being a part of how you got started. What other kind of artist and sounds have influenced your music?
Blu: Well, I’ve always been so in love with Tweet and Lauryn Hill was a big influence growing up. Also Ryan Leslie and so many other different people. I always gravitated towards the more urban artist for some reason; I guess it was kinda because of the soul in the music. Growing up, I was a big Anita Baker fan. I was probably five singing Anita Baker. So, those were probably my biggest influences growing up, people like Missy (*Missy Elliot) and some other hip-hop, too.
What was the first big placement you got in the studio once you started writing?
Blu: My biggest placement has been Rihanna. But, she (*referring to Brittany) and I did a song for Bobby Valentino, a song called “Tipsy Love”. So, that was my first actual placement and that 2012ish or 11 maybe.
And what was it like getting that call to go into the studio?
Blu: Man, it was surreal. Because, doing this, writing music and all the late hours and stuff, you do it to get that call. So, when it actually happened it was kinda like, “Did we really just get a call? Is he really gonna record our song? Do they really want to buy this song”. So, we met him and Bobby is actually one of Brittany’s favorite artists of all time. So, we went in the studio with him and recorded the song. And it was great, he was a good guy. But, at that point it was like, “Ok, cool we’re in the industry now”. It was like that moment of, “Ok, we got it”.
So, fast forward. The Rihanna “Unapologetic” album drops, receives a Grammy and the song you worked on, “Loveeeeeee Song” is one of the biggest hits on it. How did this collaboration come to be?
Blu: It was a crazy situation, actually. It was last minute and I think her album was wrapping up. But, we went out to LA and there was a track that I guess she already loved, and Future had already done the hook, so they were like, “Let’s see if you can put some verses to this”. So, I did some verses and Brittany wrote some stuff on the second verse. And my publishers actually sent the song to Rihanna and she made a few changes to it, but it kinda just happened. It was just one of those things that was organic. It wasn’t forced, it was just the right verses, the right hook, the right track, and everything came together, and she delivered it. And there we go, we made Rihanna’s album. It just happened so quickly. I mean, it’s one of those things, things happen quickly, so you just got to be ready. It happened in a two-week span. It was like boom, did the song, got the call, “Oh you got the placement”, and everything just took off. A “hope you’re ready for it” type situation.
With all of these opportunities coming in like that, what was the moment that made you think, “This dream can really be real”?
Blu: You know what? I’m just now getting to the point where I’m like, “Ok, this is meant for me. I can do this”. Because, like I said, I started songwriting for a year and some change, then I moved here, and everything kinda started to happen. I was just actually talking with Brittany about it the other day and I said … How did I put it?
Brittany: Basically it was the “throw you in the pool” thing, that’s when you learn to swim.
Blu: Yeah, it’s like you get thrown in the pool and then what are you gonna do? Are you gonna sink or swim? And I’ve had so many different challenges, but I’ve had so many victories as well. So, it’s one of those things when you’re either going to trust yourself or not. And of course you get co-signs. Like a year or two ago Ester Dean tweeted me and was like, “Oh my God, you’re f*cking awesome” and I was like, “Wait!”. It was just one of those moments. And when you start to get co-signs from people you respect, you realize that this is for you and you get more comfortable. And I’m in a place now where I know what I’m doing and I’m confident. And Brittany gives me a lot of support. When you have somebody beside you who really supports you and sees the vision, it makes it a lot better.
And now we come to the new Mariah Carey album, “I Am Mariah … The Elusive Chanteuse”, where you have two song placements, “Thirsty” and “Faded”. How did the Mariah collaboration and those songs come to be?
Blu: I have to give the biggest shout out to Karen Kwak, who’s an exec over at Def Jam. And having a relationship between the whole Rihanna situation, she gave me the call and she linked Mariah and myself together. Brittany and I flew out to Vegas and Mariah was like, “Ok, cool. I got some tracks, let’s vibe and get some stuff done”. And it was like I had known her forever. Mariah is one of the coolest people I’ve met so far and we kinda just came in creatively together and sat done and got it done. We did “Thirsty” first and then she was like, “I like you. I like what you do, and your energy. You’re talented, I want you to stay a couple more days”. So, they flew us out to LA and that’s when we did the “Faded” record. And after that I didn’t know what was going on and I kept hearing about release dates. But, I finally got the call that I had made the album and it was like, “Dope, this is Mariah!”. It was a great experience and I was super nervous, but Mariah is one of the coolest people ever and made me feel really welcome. She was like, “You just do your thing. Do you, be you. I brought you here to do you, because I respect what you do” and that was that.
Speak about writing to tracks by Hit-Boy and Mike Will Made It.
Unfortunately, I never actually worked with them in the studio for her project. They were tracks previously selected by Mariah. However, it was a honor and dream come true to top line over there tracks. I’ve always wanted to work with Hitboy; I know he produced some records for Rihanna. He has a very distinctive sound. The track was very fun and a melodic. I look forward to being able to meet and work with him again.
I’ve actually met Mike Will; he’s very talented as well. You have to mention his name among the hottest producers out! His track was my favorite out of the bunch to top line. I look forward to working with him again as well!
Miguel, James Fauntleroy, “Darkchild” Jerkins; these are all names of writers that worked on Mariah Carey’s new album. Huge writers. What does it feel like for your name right next to theirs now?
Blu: Man, it’s a dream come true. Like I said, it all happened and happened so fast. It’s like I’m so grateful … I can’t even really give anybody the credit, but God because I know he gave me this ability and I’m very thankful. I’m just looking forward to just making history. Brittany and I, two females, she’s a producer and I’m a writer and it’s like, how often do you see that? And just to be able to make an impact…we want to leave a mark.
What’s one of the biggest obstacles that you both have encountered in the industry?
Blu: Uhmm, I think just the politics. Because you can have the music, you can have everything, but sometimes it comes down to who you know and those type of situations. And it’s a challenge to get people to really buy into the brand. But, the more and more they see us and that presence is felt, people will start to say, “You know what, I get it”. Getting people to see the vision is one of hardest things, I think. Brittany?
Brittany: I agree. Exactly what she said. A lot of times certain people don’t see the vision. And certain people don’t have the mind to think forward. I think that’s been our biggest obstacles. Getting people to buy into us together, more than separately. It’s kinda like, “Oh, you got this female producer. Ok, cool. She’s so dope”, but we haven’t had that structure to pull the vision together and put a stamp on it and see it through. And again, politics have been really big. Not to get into too many details, but politics are really big.
Blu: But, at the end of the day we are still having fun and growing every day. I’m growing, she’s growing and I’m having fun. Every experience is a building block for me, so it’s been dope. I really don’t think we would change anything, it’s just gonna make us bigger and better. It’s gonna make the story even more interesting. I’m having fun, man. I’m just looking forward to 20 more years, 30 more years of hit making.
And what are some of the politics that you both have encountered moving through a majority male dominated industry?
Blu: I think just being in an industry that’s male dominated sometimes people can be slow to accept a change. Some people don’t want to see two females coming and putting work in. It’s almost like a threat. So, I think people tend to shy away from things that aren’t the norm sometimes.
Brittany: Yeah, I mean, I had a crazy experience with an artist. He’s signed to a major label, but I won’t get into names, because that’s not what’s important. But, I remember I had a friend who was an engineer and he was engineering this rapper. And the engineer is like one of my best friends. But, anyway the rapper was like, “I got these beats from this girl and I’m thinking about one of them being my first single. But, I don’t know. If I have a girl do my first single and it fails everyone is gonna be like what was I thinking letting a girl do it…”. And he didn’t know that the engineer and I were friends, but ya know there’s a lot of those things. But the engineer was like, “You never know, because you made that move you could have someone like Oprah stamp you”. Again, not everyone sees the vision or always feel comfortable doing things out of the norm. But, I think that at some points it works in our favor and at some points it doesn’t. But, we’ll keep hashing it out and it’ll work. Persistence is the key and eventually it’ll work. I’ve had some crazy experiences, but it is what it is. It’ll make the story greater.
Blu: And I think that’s all part of the vision, to inspire other young ladies. Girls just don’t realize they can come together and how much power they can have. And I’m just so excited to see when the brand actually hits. But, I don’t want it to come of like a gimmick because that’s just not what it is. It’s real talent, like we have it. We can cook up a song up from nothing and make it something. Like I can vocal produce and right and she can make the beat, track it, mix it, like do it all. So, one day people are gonna be like, “I get it”.
So, what is next and what can people expect for you?
Blu: Well, both, she and I, have things in the pipeline, but I don’t like to speak too soon. But, hopefully we’ll be sitting done again in the next month. But, we are just working, fine tuning our craft, getting better everyday, networking, building relationships, all that stuff.
Brittany: Whoever’s working, we’re working on them. So, we’re just trying to fine tune and send them out, see what happens.
While waiting for the next Blu June and Coney Gurl hit to grace the airwaves you can keep in touch with what they are doing by following them on social media.
Twitter: blu_june and Brittany_Coney
Instagram: blujune and Brittany_Coney