Louis Bell on CoProducing Post Malone's No. 1 Hit 'rockstar': 'We Weren't Thinking of the Hot 100 At All'
publish date: 2017-10-20
"Post is probably the most authentic artist I’ve ever been around," says collaborator Bell.watch video:
Just before chatting with , Louis Bell was informed his collaboration with Post Malone, the angsty 21 Savage-supported “rockstar,” hit No. 1 on the Hot 100. “When you first start out, you’re like ‘I’d die to have a No. 1,’” says Bell, who co-produced the track with Tank God and also co-wrote on it. “Then when it happens, it’s surreal. You get numb. Getting a No. 1, so many weird elements have to come into place. It’s all about timing.”
It was indeed timing that put the writer, producer and engineer on a collision course with Post Malone, quickly becoming the rapper’s right-hand man on a multitude of tracks, from the Justin Bieber collaboration “Deja Vu” to the equally moody “Congratulations” alongside Quavo.
When it comes to the origin of “rockstar,” it was last year when Malone texted Bell a video of a song he was working on. “I knew it was a smash through the phone,” he says of the song that would eventually top the charts. “A few months later, we got in the studio and I wanted to really build it up to make it really full and musical. It’s a very droney, vibey piece. I wanted to add a long outro with a guitar, but it can’t be an actual guitar because it’s 2017. We went with something futuristic to give it this nice cool and dark vibe.” For Bell, an overarching issue was to make a song called “rockstar” not become a parody of itself. “The records that work are the ones that feel authentic and real,” says Bell. “We weren’t thinking of the Hot 100 at all, which gives it its magic I think. There was no intention of ‘Let’s make a hit!’”
It’s that mindset that ironically boosted Bell from recording studio operator in Boston to in-demand hitmaker. Growing up in Quincy, Massachusetts, the future producer took piano lessons when he was 13. It was a skill that came in handy when he set out to become a rapper years later. “I got into rap and started recording myself on the computer. Because of the (piano) lessons, I was making my own beats with a keyboard.”