Social House discuss their new EP Everything Changed… and working with Ariana Grande
Michael "Mikey" Foster and Charles "Scootie" Anderson, better known as the duo Social House that's served as the openers for Ariana Grande's Sweetener Tour and collaborated with her on their new single "Boyfriend," released their first EP Friday titled Everything Changed…
And a lot has changed since they both moved from Pittsburgh to Los Angeles to work with Grande collaborator Tommy Brown (aka TBHits), who they eventually co-wrote and produced the #1 hits "thank u, next" and "7 rings" with.
"We've been making music for so long and we've so tied up in the studio just hanging out and vibing that actually getting out, seeing feedback, talking to people, [we're] just enjoying the moment," Foster says. EW talked to the duo about how working with Grande has influenced their songwriting process, and how "Boyfriend" came to be.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You guys have songwriting credits on two #1 hits, you've been touring, you're launching your own E.P. So what has this past year really been like?
MICHAEL "MIKEY" FOSTER: Well when you say it like that it's kind of unbelievable.
CHARLES "SCOOTIE" ANDERSON: It's been wild. It's been a roller coaster, but in a good way.
FOSTER: It's really cool to have moments like this because everything we've done this year has been brand new to us, and so having big records and actually doing our music on a stage with people who want to see it, and have good energy, it's really insane because we didn't know if people would like our music. All we do is make beats and stuff in our headphones.
ANDERSON: Sit at home and work on beats until we fall asleep.
FOSTER: Yeah so literally we don't get to show people a lot, so to hear people's feedback about the music, and to see people cheering and things like that, it's really unbelievable. It's kind of magical.
Getting into how you guys started, as I understand it you guys came to Tommy Brown separately and then linked up through him?
FOSTER: I moved out to L.A. like 2015, started working with Tommy. Actually, I had never met anybody in L.A. Literally, he was the first person I met in L.A., and he was like "Yo, I love your music." I played him some songs. He was like, "I love your music, and I think we should team up and work on this stuff." And literally six months later a mutual friend of mine is working on a song for Scootie and Tommy overhears it and what'd he say?
ANDERSON: He was like "Yo, who is this." And [Mikey] was like "It's this kid from Pittsburgh named Scootie," he was like "Oh alright I need him out here." So he got my number from [Mikey] and called me and was like "Yo, I really like what you're doing. I need you out here so I'm buying you a flight for tomorrow, so tell your job you need off." Got out there and worked on some stuff. I was supposed to be there for a week so I worked a whole week with Mikey, and Mr. Franks and our friend Trav, and we just really locked in and made a whole bunch of stuff that we really liked, and at the end of the week it was time to go, and Tommy was like "Yo you should stay," and he said "This is one of those choices that might change your life if you choose to stay." And I've been there ever since.
As far as Social House goes, was it initially your songwriting/production alias or was it always intended the name you two perform under?
FOSTER: Yeah me and Scootie, whenever we just made stuff, we just kind of made stuff, we never really thought of ourselves as like a creation duo. We just worked together a lot and just did that, but whenever we decided to do music together Tommy actually wrote "Social House" on a whiteboard because it was the name of the wifi, and we assumed it would be [the name for] the people in the house making music, but it was it just turned out to be me and Scootie.
ANDERSON: Originally it was us two, and Tommy and Frank, and then at some point they were just like, "You know what you guys got this."
FOSTER: It was like the first week, they were like "I don't know if we want to do this. We don't want to be artists guys. You guys are like artists, you guys can do your songs, you could sing and stuff. I don't want to be a rapper, but you're good."
What was the dynamic like within the house? You all seem to be building a collective over at Tommy's house.
FOSTER: Well the reason why the wifi was named Social House is because, literally it was a very, very social house. There was a constant stream of YouTubers, Instagram socialites, and there were painters and directors and actors. There was a party there every day and there were two studios going upstairs at all times. Literally, we were recording music 18 hours a day and then downstairs there would be people partying and hanging out, working on videos, working on ideas, playing at the pool table. It was like a very, very social house and so that's really where the name came from, and we just kept it because that's how we work.
I imagine there was instant feedback on what everyone was working on.
ANDERSON: Yeah exactly. We would literally go downstairs and play a song we just made five minutes ago and everybody would start dancing around to it and we'd be like "Oh alright this one is a good one, they like this one."
FOSTER: It's actually really cool to go straight from the studio and play something with a crowd there.
What were you guys learning while living there and being exposed to all these other artists?
FOSTER: We're sponges in a lot of ways, so it was easy for us to learn from all the producers and writers that we've worked with because we enjoy music so much and we like everybody's work, and so to see people like Steven Franks and Tommy and Trav working on music, seeing Meghan Trainor writing and stuff like that, seeing Ari's work ethic, seeing how she writes and sings, you just want to be a sponge. You don't want to act like you know everything, so we just learn and hopefully, we apply it correctly.
ANDERSON: Yeah, always keep an open mind because you can literally learn anything from anyone.
To get more specific, what was the Sweetener and Thank U, Next journey like, and how did that songwriting process affect your songwriting process?
ANDERSON: We were in New York when we were working on a lot of the stuff and it wasn't even necessarily to work on music. We were out there to support our friend because she was going through a tough time and she just wanted to be surrounded by love and friends and people who she could absolutely talk to, and it kind of just evolved into music sessions and making songs and stuff because that's ultimately what we all do anyways. So it was kind of therapeutic to do that with people who you're so close to. It was very transparent when we were working on stuff with her and it was very like let's be real about things, how are we feeling, how is she feeling, like literally taking all of her emotions and real-life situations and trying to make these songs out of them, and it really, I feel like it really rubbed off on us because I feel like nowadays that's rare. People aren't really transparent in a lot of their music nowadays.
FOSTER: You get five to seven people who literally spend their life in the studio and give them something to talk about and you get Thank U, Next.
What's the story on how "Boyfriend," your song with Ariana Grande, came to be?
FOSTER: I don't know where we were, we were probably at an interview or some workout or something like that… so Ariana was in the studio with Tommy and Frank and they started talking about relationships and how nobody really wants definition, everybody kind of likes doing their thing; how people really want a level of commitment, but they don't want to fully commit. They just want to learn and have a process before dating that's like "You do whatever you want, but don't do what I don't want. Don't hurt me, but we're not together all the way."
So they started writing a song about that type of scenario because so many of our friends are like that, so many of the people you see on Instagram are kind of dating, but not dating. So they literally started writing a song about it. Ari did her verse and the hook and we showed up and she's like "Yo I want y'all on this song, it's so cool. I think you guys love it," and played it for us. We're like, "Hell yeah." And then we started working on it. It was just very, very natural because that's literally what we do all day. We show each other ideas as soon as the other person walks in the door. We're like "Hey Ari, listen to this," or like "Hey Scoot listen to this," or like "Hey Tommy." It's just how we work.
One thing noticeable thing about Ariana Grande this year is not just how supportive she is of her songwriters' performance careers, but how collaborative she is with them as well. She did "Monopoly" with Victoria Monet earlier this year, and worked with you all on"Boyfriend." What has that been like and does that seem unique to you for an artist to be that way?
FOSTER: I'm going to be honest, for somebody of Ariana's caliber and the level of music she's at, for her to actually welcome us so openly into her camp, and to help her with her ideas and her vision, and to actually put us on music with her is actually probably unprecedented. It's really special for her to put her friends in positions to win, and really put her friends on songs that are valuable to her because it's just as easy for her to get the biggest other artists in the world to just jump on songs with her, and she could easily do that because nobody is going to say no, but it's really cool that she trusts us with her story and trusts us with her moment. That's really special, she's a special human for that.
I watched one of your behind the scenes videos on YouTube where you said Everything Changed… was going to be the story of a relationship told in reverse. Is that still the case?
ANDERSON: Yeah we're still doing that. It's a story of a relationship, the EP, but it's like the bullet points, and later on, the album that we release will be the full story of the entire relationship and everything that had happened inside of that relationship. But yeah, it's the story of the relationship from back to front, and it's supposed to be an introspective look into the relationship to see where things went wrong and where the fault lies. What could I have done better, what could you have done better-type vibe, you know.
FOSTER: We want people to look into their relationships and think a little bit clearer. If you want to break up, we want to teach you how to break up with people and not be mean. If you're in a fight, we want to teach you how to love each other and still bring up your point. If you're in a lovey-dovey phase, we want to teach you how to be transparent about your feelings and be open to share them. If you can't stop thinking about somebody, we want you to be able to express that in a good way. So literally we're trying to help people through their relationships as well, because there are so many phases of a relationship we just want to participate in those parts.
ANDERSON: And really connect with people on those levels.
What song are you excited for people to hear? I heard "Tropical Rain" might be the next single.
FOSTER: I would really enjoy "Tropical Rain" as the next single.
ANDERSON:I feel like people are going to like that one. It's got energy in that. Some dope energy, and just feels good.
FOSTER: It makes me want to— nevermind, I was going to say something wild.
It being the last song on the EP, would you say it's the type of song that's representative of the start of a relationship.
ANDERSON: Ehhhh some relationships.
FOSTER: Alright so if it was a bullet point or a chapter title we'd call it like "The First Steamy Night," you know what I mean. It's like all the passion, all the excitement, all the energy.
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Do you guys put yourself under the umbrella of one main genre? I've seen you two written up as hip-hop artists, but you've written multiple pop hits.
FOSTER: Honestly I feel like we're the type of group that we would like to have a song in every genre on the radio, like that type of person. We love rock music, we love folk, we love country, we love hip hop, we love rhythmic, we love pop, we literally do all of those. And so it's just fun for us to explore music, like we're not the type that just thinks one person has one thing in their iPod like or their Spotify. Nobody listens to one genre of music, so we don't like to make one genre of music. Whenever we're feeling energetic or we're feeling sad or we're feeling happy we want to explore that feeling and that doesn't always come with a genre.
ANDERSON: If we if in our career if we could get like a nomination in every category I will die a happy man.
FOSTER: Yeah we're definitely the type that would make a contemporary jazz album.
Lastly, what has it been like the biggest pinch-me moment of this past year?
FOSTER: I think it might be this week if we make it to Billboard with "Boyfriend." And honestly the biggest moment of this year for me personally, everything pales in comparison to being able to move my mom out of her house that she was in, in a bad neighborhood, and put her in a new place. Music was able to do that and I couldn't be more grateful. Literally, it changed my life.
ANDERSON: So for me, I paid off all my parents debt.
FOSTER: That's fire. Music is really cool, but like the real-life application for like working hard and doing this for so many years of 18 hour days, seeing any type of payoff is beautiful and it really just makes us want to keep going and have more fun and enjoy it. We just feel so blessed to be able to do this. <iframe src="https://open.spotify.com/embed/album/3lltPqseSLIBK9qpjksFkc" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true" allow="encrypted-media" class="" scrolling="no" allowfullscreen="" resize="0" replace_attributes="1" name=""></iframe>ã¾µß}ºëÍöuýô×}»ó^»çMßn;ÛO}ß^
This interview has been edited and condensed