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I found this a couple of years ago on the website Behind the music which doesn't exists anymore. It was a fanstastic website on Swedish songwriters. Credit goes to and Linda who allowed me to put this on my site. Here's the Q & A by Max Martin from


Q & A by Max Martin

Tonos December 15, 2000

Q: Max, you've obviously had (and continue to have) tremendous success songwriting/producing for a variety of artists. I'm a songwriter at heart and delve into various strains of pop (Latin-tinged, acoustic rock, jazzy funk, whatever). With songs in English, Spanish, and the ever-popular Spanglish, I'm currently in the process of putting together some songwriter demos to pitch to publishers, music supervisors, and major label artists. What are some key elements in putting together a convincing songwriter demo? Should all of the songs on a particular songwriter demo be of the same genre? Thanks.

Max: I think the most important things when you put together a songwriter demo are: 1. To not have more than 3 songs. 2, Choose your absolute best tracks. Whatever genre they may be. 3. If a song is more than three minutes you may want to fade the song after those three minutes. This to make it as easy as possible for the listener. If they like the song they will contact you anyway. 4. Try to make the package that you send out look as professional as possible. Good luck, may the force be with you!!!

Q: Hi Martin, how are you? Do you have any secret advice on getting good backing vocals? How to arrange the parts, how many parts, where to double them and how to mix them? Is there a difference in arranging BV's for a solo-artist (like Robyn, Jessica) and a 5-part boyband (like BSB,nsync)?

Max: One golden rule for me is "If you can't hear it, delete it." If you have a significant sound/hook make sure that you really hear it in the mix. Don't be scared to have things in the mix that really stand out.

Q: There are certain production elements that you seem to use in a large number of your tracks. The high pitched noise-shot snare with heavy reverb comes to mind. (Just what makes that sound, anyway?) Do you use these elements as signatures for your productions in the same way that hip-hop producers will sometimes add their own vocals to a track?

Max: I use some sounds over and over again and that's just because I'm lazy. It's as simple as that!

Q: How does the artist learn the vocals of your songs,? do you sing together with them 'til they learn it ? Do you use the manley when micing up the acoustic guitar? and do you use both line and mic or just mic ? Do you record all the sepatrate midisounds into tape before you mix it or do you play it strate from the modules ?

Max: 1. I give them a full demo with vocals already on it and they learn from that. 2, Yes, I use the Manley for the acoustic guitar. 3. Just mic. 4. Most of the midi stuff is played straight from the module, real-time.

Q: Hello Max from DownUnder! It's so cool to be able to direct a question to (in my opinion) a truly gifted songwriter and producer. My question is: You create some wonderful harmonies/counter-melodies at the end of your song's, (a-la Brirney's "Oops"). Sometimes there are many different lines and layers happening. Do you physically write each part and create guide sheets and record all the necessary parts you imagine, or, do you just tend to record a whole heap of stuff and find interesting ways to piece it together so it works within the song? Thank you for your gift and inspiration and the way you and your team have re-shaped and set the standards higher in Pop music.

Max: All of the melodies and counter-melodies are written so that they fit together.

Q: Hello Mr. Martin: I was wondering....Do you only work with ESTABLISHED artists and if not, how does a nobody get to work with you?? Thanks and Stay Blessed.

Max: Almost all artists that we work with right now were un-established artists when they came to us. I find it more interesting to work with new talent. But since Britney, Backstreet and NSync worked so well we've been kind of busy with them lately.

Q: Hi Max, It goes without say that Cheiron has helped shape POP music for the past few years. What's next for Max Martin? What advise do you have for aspiring singer/producers? Sincerely, Al

Max: Next for me is Britney's third album. My advice to upcoming talent in this business is "work harder than everyone else."

Q: What do you feel is the key ingredient to writing a hit song?

Max: This is a very hard question to answer but it's very important to have a great melody. If you have one, build your song around that. Don't make it too complicated.

Q: I have a tendency to write lyrics that are a little abstract and people ask for explanations of my songs sometimes. One reason that I like writing abstractly is that it causes the listener to think about what it means and they make their own analogies that relate to them. Is that a bad thing?

Max: Listen to "I Want It That Way" with the Backstreet Boys and try to figure that one out! So my answer to your question is: No, as long as you feel happy about your lyrics.

Q: Hi Max! Your work is incredible. What a great sense of melody. My question is what do you think of Swedish fellows Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus's work? Were you eve amazed or influenced in any way by their past or present music? Thanks very much and keep the great work.

Max: Benny and Bjorn's music has inspired me a lot. Especially the ABBA-stuff.

Q: When cutting vocals do you have the artist sing several passes from begining to end and then comp or do you work on one verse at a time until you get the perfect perfomance?

Max: I record every part separately until the artist and I are happy with it.

Q: Max, I love and respect your music so much... tell me, how long does it normally take you to write a song?

Max: Everything between a day and a year. But normally it will take me about a week.

Q: Max, you're my idol! I read a quote that said you don't touch a keyboard (but use a dictaphone) until the song is 'done'. Do you find that using an instrument can impede the creative process and lead you places melodically that you don't want to go?

Max: It's true that I work that way, But every songwriter has their own way of making it happen. I can only speak for myself when I say writing the melody first gives me more freedom than doing it the other way around.

Q: Hello Max! I love your music!! I wonder, normally, how much does the instrumental backing-track for recording vocals/guitars differ from the finished production? Do you record scratch-vocals for your artists? BTW: When are you and E-type going to start up your heavy-metal project? /Jonathan, Sweden

Max: The final production is normally a lot more detailed than the background for recording vocals and guitars. And I do record scratch vocals for the artist to learn from. E- Type and I will get back to you on that one!

Q: Hi Max! First of all I'd like to say I really love your songs and productions! I wonder if you could tell me how you make those fat drumbeats (The One/BSB, I'll Never Stop/'Nsync etc)? Anything in particular when you pick the sounds, layer them and mix it? Do you have any favourite-compressor?

Max: The only way to learn how to program drums is to do it over and over again until it sounds "fat." That's what we did and I can't explain it in a better way. Cause we still do it this way. Yes, I have a favorite compressor. But I don't know the name of it. -- Sorry!

Q: Hi! My name is Robert, I'm a great fan of yours mr Martin! I'm curious how your songs get assigned to new artists. Generally, do you pile up a couple of songs and let different artists/managers/A&R's choose or do you write especially for certain artists? If so, how many songs do you have "in stock" right now?

Max: I normally custom write my songs especially for a particular artist, I really don't have anything in stock right now. But I'm working on it!

Q: What kind of gears did you use to arrange and produce Backstreet Boys the latest album?

Max: For a list of all my gear, please go to and you will find everything you want to know there. Including a picture of a hung-over Max Martin!