Charlie Puth Interview

Rising Hitmaker Charlie Puth Debuts at Madison Square Garden

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Twenty-three year-old Charlie Puth has had one fast rise to fame in 2015, though he’s put in years of hard work to get where he is today. The “See You Again” singer-songwriter was trained at Manhattan School of Music as well as Berklee College of Music and got his breakthroughs winning an online video competition sponsored by Perez Hilton and was later an artist on Ellen DeGeneres’ label. Fast-forward to this year, his heartfelt falsetto feature on Wiz Khalifa’s rap ballad propelled Charlie’s career as “See You Again” from the movie Fast & Furious 7 went on to dominate the Billboard Hot 100 at #1 for twelve weeks, making it the longest-running rap #1 in the U.S. tying Eminem’s “Lose Yourself.” Puth has continued his run on duet “Marvin Gaye,” which he recorded with Meghan Trainor. Puth is one of many acts who will appear at Z100’s famed Jingle Ball spectacular coming December 11 at Madison Square Garden, on a bill that includes Top 40 superstars of the year including The Weeknd, Calvin Harris, Selena Gomez, 5 Seconds of Summer, Demi Lovato, Zedd, Nick Jonas, Fetty Wap, Hailee Steinfeld and more. New York City Monthly was honored to speak with him recently…

New York City Monthly: Z100 Jingle Ball marks your first Madison Square Garden performance ever. Coming off a whopping year with the second longest-running single of the year following Bruno Mars & Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk.” what does this end-of-the-year celebration mean to you at one of the world’s most iconic arenas?

Charlie Puth: I’m gonna get up on that stage – everything goes in black and white and you hear the crowd – and it’s super cheesy right now – and then everything goes silent. I’m just going to be staring at the crowd in total disbelief. It’s also hard to believe that my next single “One Call Away” is the first one that just features me. I get to play that and have people sing all the lyrics. I’m just dumbfounded.

NYCM: Taylor Swift, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, Ariana Grande, Jason Derulo, Justin Bieber, Maroon 5, the list goes on of big stars who have performed in recent memory at Jingle Ball. What is it like to be included among these names?

CP: It’s wild, and all of these people are like my friends now – I haven’t met Maroon 5 yet but I have met Taylor – they’re just normal people and I get to figure out how to improve my artistry every day by talking to people who have been doing it for a second.

NYCM: Have you seen any artists play at Madison Square Garden in the past, and if so what were your most memorable moments?

CP: I’ve never been to a show at MSG and I live so close to it. I’ve seen James Taylor at the Beacon. I saw Sting at PNC. Jethro Tull in Baltimore. I saw a Bruce Springsteen show before they tore down the old Giants Stadium. I remember being at a show and the saxophone part people knew by heart, and I was like wow, I want to make a song that people actually know the instrumental part not just the vocal part.

NYCM: Who thought up the idea for “Marvin Gaye” as a song title? Cause it’s pretty clever?

CP: I wrote it just very relaxed. In the studio, I had a milkshake and I was like, “oh wow.” When I write music I try to think of hypothetical scenarios in my head. I was thinking of a diner, I had that melody and then the lyric was Marvin Gaye and “Get It On” fell out. Now I can’t have milkshakes.

NYCM: If there was one artist whose song you would have liked to record that’s playing Jingle Ball this year, whose song would you want to snag?

CP: “I Can’t Feel My Face” by The Weeknd. I’m so floored by that record. Max Martin and Ali Payami and Savan [Kotecha], everyone at Max Martin’s place is so brilliant.

NYCM: The Ryan Seacrest Foundation benefits from the national Jingle Ball ticket sales, with $1 from each ticket supporting children in hospitals across America. What does holiday time mean for you and what is special about being here in New York during the season of giving? 

CP: Just playing kids a song, in general, if I don’t have physical gifts to give them. Making the effort to FaceTime, it just goes such a long way. They remember it more than something physical. If only I could duplicate myself a couple times. It also makes me feel really good, I take that energy and apply it right back to the songwriting. New York is really affiliated with Christmas. In Philadelphia I had some extra time to stop by some kids at the hospital.

NYCM: What advice would you give up-and-coming musicians and the next generation of Jingle Ball-ers?

CP: My advice to them would be don’t be concerned about what’s on the radio. Radio wants to progress, that’s how music progresses, putting your personality into a record. You have to predict the future when you’re making records. Make what you are genuinely happy with. If it doesn’t work the first time, keep trying. Repetition is key.