During Lady Gaga’s headlining Coachella performance this past weekend, she debuted “The Cure,” a track that EW’s Nolan Feeney described as “her re-entry into the world of flashy dance-pop” in his B+ review. But even though the breezy song is now out from under wraps (“I’ve been trying to keep it a secret for so long,” she told the festival crowd), much about the collective that produced it remains shrouded in mystery.
Longtime Gaga collaborator DJ White Shadow (real name Paul Blair) — who co-wrote “The Cure” with Nick Monson (“Applause”), Lukas Nelson, Mark Nilan, and the Lady herself — recently denied speculation that, despite having worked on hits like “Born This Way” and “The Edge of Glory” in the past, he’d also produced the catchy tune, instead noting Monson had crafted its radio-friendly sound alongside a relatively unknown outfit called Detroit City.
During an email interview with EW, Detroit City, who choose to keep the identities of its members anonymous, referred to Gaga as “an organic, beautiful forest of talent,” adding that the work they created together reflects perspectives culled from artists “from around the world who met because [they] share a passion for greatness.”
In other words, Detroit City could be a duo — or a 50-strong fleet of songsmiths. No one knows for sure, and preserving the element of secrecy is an essential part of their creative process.
“We have no ego. We are fed by brilliance. Fame is fleeting. We are not concerned with you knowing us. We desire to be judged by the content of our art,” they said, though they seemingly gunned for a spot on the Grammy winner’s radar, as “The Cure” came to fruition after Detroit City “respectfully submitted material to a true artist.” What does that mean, exactly? They could’ve sent a demo directly to Gaga, or maybe a friend of a friend of a friend might’ve facilitated the meeting on their behalf.
Either way, the world is listening: “The Cure” rocketed to No. 1 on approximately 61 worldwide iTunes charts within hours of its Coachella bow.
“It was an honor to be a part of [Gaga’s] journey… We treat every artist as we would like to be treated. We don’t count success by number; we reap our reward from good feelings,” Detroit City explained. “We were only trying to write music that would make her proud to sing in front of her fans that she adores so much.”
Detroit City’s recent work functions almost as a rebellious antithesis to today’s biggest mainstream hits. Their freshman single, “Freeky,” dropped in November, and features explicit, sexually charged lyrics rapped by hip-hop legend Too $hort — who previously assisted Gaga, T.I., and Twista on Mother Monster’s 2013 Artpop number “Jewels N’ Drugs” — over a sledgehammering house beat. A press release that circulated with the announcement of “Freeky” says Detroit City, who also worked on Sage the Gemini’s “Do Not Disturb” late last year, “will remain unknown in an effort to remove ego from their creative process,” additionally making a “conscious effort to remove gender and sexuality, and keep the emphasis of their efforts in the music.”
As for whether “The Cure” stresses the looming presence of a bigger release in Gaga’s growing discography (fans have speculated on everything from a new LP to Joanne‘s continuation manifesting in the form of an EP the same way The Fame evolved into The Fame Monster back in 2009) or exists as a standalone single, however, the group revealed, “We have other songs that we are very proud of. Our business stops there and continues with the plans of the artist.” In other words: maybe.
Listen to “The Cure” above. Follow Detroit City on Twitter here.