Producer/songwriter J.R. Rotem visited The Recording Academy's headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif., for an installment of 5 Questions With … . During his visit, Rotem reflected on his creative process, favorite GRAMMY moment, musical influences, the impact of social media, what music he's currently listening to, and upcoming projects.
"One of my strengths is my versatility, which is rooted in the fact that I was a classical and jazz pianist before ever becoming a producer," said Rotem on his creative process. "If somebody comes in and just starts singing a hook, idea or a melody, I feel very comfortable being behind the piano and figuring out the right chords to accompany them, and build a track based on that."
Born in South Africa, Rotem relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area at age 12 where he began taking piano lessons. After graduating from high school, Rotem attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, focusing on piano performance. His first career break came when producer Dwayne Wiggins came across a CD of his beats, eventually leading to the placement of "Fancy," which Rotem co-wrote, on Destiny's Child's 2001 album Survivor. As a producer/songwriter, Rotem has worked with artists including 50 Cent, Natasha Bedingfield, Dr. Dre, The Game, Leona Lewis, Rihanna, Snoop Dogg, and Britney Spears, among others. In 2006 Rotem, along with manager Zach Katz and brother Tommy Rotem, formed a joint venture between their label Beluga Heights and Sony Music Entertainment's Epic Records, a partnership that fostered the development of Sean Kingston. In 2008 Rotem was named Producer of the Year along with T-Pain and Kanye West at BMI's Urban Music Awards. Now a joint venture with Warner Bros. Records, Rotem serves as president of Beluga Heights, overseeing a roster including Auburn, Jason Derulo, Iyaz, and Kingston.
Click on the "5 Questions With ... interviews" tag below for links to other GRAMMY News stories in this series.