Interview: Songwriter @coreychorus talks to @thesoundkillers

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From singing his name on the Google Voice introduction to being an antithetical introvert, Corey Chorus has a personality that’s intoxicating and pure. With his name on credits of some of the biggest artist out, including Rihanna, Chorus is the poster child for hard work and dedication.  Not bad for a kid who grew up in Marcy Projects.

Corey Chorus took time from his busy schedule to speak with The Soundkillers about his interesting start in the industry, including his wins on Showtime At The Appollo, what he’s been working on, and offers some advice for those aspiring to work in the music industry.

[TSK]: So you’re from New York?  Born and raised?

[CC]: Yes, born and raised in New York.  I was born in BedStuy Brooklyn.  Grew up in Marcy Projects, just like Jay-Z, then I move out to Freeport Long Island and graduated from high school.  That’s where I found my love for music.

[TSK]: What was the turning point when you realized music is what you wanted to do with your life?

[CC]: Well, to be honest, when I was three years old, my grandmother took me to church.  I used to walk around the house in the Marcy Projects with a robe and hymnbook, acting like I was a pastor.  I would fake the Holy Ghost.  So, when I was three, my grandmother said, “Hey, you wanna go to choir rehearsal?”  They asked me if I want to do a solo after joining the kid’s choir.  I said yeah.  “It Is Well” was the name of the hymn I sang.  I actually remember doing it because I wasn’t afraid at all, even at three years old.  I just had a good time.  I said, you know what, I want to do this.  So growing up, I listened to people like Luther Vandross, Usher, and Brian McKnight.  When I was 15, I called my mother and told her that I wanted to go on Showtime at the Apollo.  Every week I would write them letters.  They said, “Send your tape in.”  I sent them my tape.  Every time I saw the show, that Monday, I did it [sent my tape in].   I would get my mom or my stepfather to record me singing.  One day this lady called me and said I want you to come to this audition.  I went to the audition, met her, Maxine Lewis.  I went and there was this long line.  I also had a TV audition for EAB Christmas Spectacular with my school choir.  I either was going to miss the audition or the performance.  Luckily my mom walked me up to the front of the line.  She said that she had to get her son to another TV performance; I really don’t want him to miss this opportunity.  I did it and Maxine Lewis loved it.  She asked who wrote it, I said I did.  I told her where I was from; my church, and she said she wanted me to go to church with her.  The church was Donnie McClurkin’s Church, Perfecting Faith.  I didn’t know at the time that you had to get to know people and see if they wanted to invest in you.  I was like, “Ugh, I don’t wanna go to church with this lady,” but I still went and had a good time.  She said to me, upon dropping me off, she wanted to have me on the show.  That was in October 2011.  January 22, 2002, I went and won two shows.  I went against the adults at 16 years old.  I said, “Oh shoot, maybe I need to take this to the next level. “ I wanted to invest my time in music.  I dreamt about it.  That’s all I wanted to do.  I didn’t wanna be a doctor anymore.  All of those kid dreams of what you wanted to be just went out of the window.  I wanted to do music; I didn’t know how it was going to get done.  Then, everywhere I went, people asked me did I have a demo.  But, I didn’t have one and I didn’t know what it was.  My dad had a friend who worked in the music business, but he was too expensive.  So, I started buying my own equipment.    I went to college and got my degree in Business Management with a concentration in Audio Recording Technology from Five Towns College.  If I’m trying to make a demo and be the best at creating a song, I need to know how to control this stuff.  How can I tell somebody what to do if I don’t know how to do it myself?  While at Five Towns College I met this young lady named Chrisette Michele who I went on tour with.  I ended up being her road manager and singing background for her.  That’s where my career kind of started.  After that, I ended up moving to Los Angeles and that’s how I became a bit more confident in doing music.  To be honest, there have been some trials and tribulations, but it’s been a good road. 

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[TSK]: You said you grinded for ten years so far.  A lot of our readers are aspiring artists, writers, and producers.  What advice would you give them when trying to break into the business?

[CC]: That’s a great question.  What keeps me is that I keep telling myself that I haven’t made it in the business.  So, never get comfortable.  I would tell them to forget what people say.  I tell people all of the time to keep going.  Look at Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.  Look at some of the newer people like Rihanna and Will.I.am.   The best thing they could have done for their career is to keep going because people are going to continue giving you answers that you don’t want to hear.  The biggest advice I could give someone who is aspiring to be in the music business is: 1) Keep going, 2) Save your money because you won’t always have a hit, 3) Learn your craft if you want to be cutting edge and award winning.  Like I said earlier, I studied audio recording because how could I be comfortable doing music if I didn’t know what I was doing, wanted to do, or even know what to ask when asking for assistance?  Those three things are what I’ve always lived by.  You’re not going to always get that gold.  Sometimes people will spit on you or tell you, you won’t be anything.  So, keep going. 

[TSK]: Do you remember your first placement?

[CC]:  I do!  My first placement wasn’t a big known person.  It was with a young lady by the name of Sariah Eisenberg.  She was signed to one of these dance labels.  The song that I did was called “Deep N Luv.”  We were working in Massachusetts with these producers.  She cut the record and it was on the Billboard Dance chart.  It was really cool.  Of course I’ve worked with other artists, but Sariah was my very first placement.

[TSK]:  Do you have certain artists in mind when writing, or do they reach out to you?

[CC]:  It goes both ways.  Sometimes I’ll write it and send it to the artist or their people.  Other times, an artist or their people will reach out to me.  But most of the time, when I’m in the studio, I’m just trying to write a song for the kid in the back of the car that will live forever, the kid that won’t stop singing that song.  I remember being that kid in the back set that kept listening to Mary J. Blige while my mom flipped over the tape in the front seat of the car.   I try to write songs that are as simple for the kid in the back seat to listen to, but something adults can relate to and respect as well.

[TSK]: I saw that you worked on “Cheers (Drink To That)” by Rihanna.  What was it like working with her?

[CC]: We never worked with Rihanna.  We did a song with a bunch of different writers and producers in Los Angeles.  We called random people in the studio.  We ended up working with The Runners, a young lady by the name of LP, Stacy Barthe, and myself.  Stacy had been playing an Avril Lavigne song.  LP said, “Yo, Imma do something to that.”  Mayne from The Runners ended up making the beat on the spot.  To be honest, it just really happened.  If you listen to the beginning of the song, we’re just in the studio taking shots.  We literally had 60 people in the booth.  We just had a good time.  People pulled out liquor and we were just going H.A.M.  We had this guy names Scott Market, Karen Kwak’s assistant at the time.  He stopped by the session and said, “Oh my gosh, this is crazy.  I wanna play this tomorrow.”  He went to play it.  So we said, take these red cups and Hennessey.  LA Reid had a cabana at the Beverly Hills Hotel.  We set up speakers because that’s how he listens to music.  He gave all of the record executives and cup with some henney in it and told everyone to take a shot.  They played it, and the rest of it is history. 

[TSK]: Are you working on a project for yourself right now?

[CC]:  Well, fortunately I’ve been given this opportunity to release a record I did with a Dutch Dj, Lucky Charms, and his collaborator, Joust.  The record is called “This Is It.”  I did it for Enrique Iglesias.  He didn’t like it, so I sent to Amsterdam.  We shot a video before Christmas.  I had a blast.  The video and song is dope.  I’m not saying I’m going to release and album, but I just wanna release some records. These records are like soup, good for your body and soul.  I have a record called, “Blessing.”  I also have one called, “Let Love Be Your Bullet.”  I hope to release it by June.  I’m going to be touring.  You know, having a good time.  I’ve been working on my stuff, this young lady name Jade.  Her project is called, Blue Notes and Trees.  It’s crazy.  I’ve been working on Cee-Lo’s record.  I’ve also been working with this girl named Jessica Ashley.   She’s a newcomer, but I tell you she must have been working on music in another lifetime.  I can’t really explain it, but her voice is just tantalizing.  You get chills from hearing her voice.  I know her voice will be around for decades.  I’m also working with Shantel.  She’s got a great pen.  I feel like I’ve known her all of my life.  

Andreana E. Thomas, Lead Blogger for The Soundklillers, conducted this interview

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