PJ Morton is a singer, songwriter, and producer. He’s the first artist ever to be nominated for a Grammy for the Best R&B album three years in a row. In 2020, he won the Grammy for Best R&B song for his track, "Say So," which is a duet with the singer JoJo, a platinum-selling artist in her own right. But that version of "Say So" almost didn’t come to exist. In this episode, PJ takes us through his original voice memos, the demos, and the isolated pieces of the final studio recording, as he tells the story of how the track was created, then disappeared, and then got re-created—and ended up becoming one of his biggest songs.
For more, visit songexploder.net/pj-morton.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
You're listening to song exploder, where musicians take apart their songs and piece by piece. Tell the story of how they were made. My name is
She case your way song.
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Pj Morton is a singer songwriter and producer.
It's been nominated for ten grammys, including best Aren t album three years in a row into them,
twenty. He won the Grammy for the best are in besought for his track, say so, which is it
with the singer, Jojo
the platinum selling artist in her own right, but
That version of say so almost didn't come to exist in this,
those Pga pj takes us through his original voice, memos the demos and the isolated pieces of the final studio, recording, as he tells the story of how say so was created then
It appeared and then got recreated and ended up becoming one of his biggest songs. So, if you just say so, I need to know from you right now before I go.
Misty J Morton
say so came out in two nineteen, but pj had his first idea for it on February, Fourteenth two thousand and fifteen Valentine's day ahead.
really bad writer's block,
maybe one of the worst of my life,
my form of writer's block is, I can't write a song from myself.
Sometimes I can still as a songwriter write for other artists.
When I say right, as I mean I can't
get my own thoughts out, but I would get these melodies
everything I heard I would like we get it down,
it MIKE. Maybe this could break it.
In normal says, Bob
Thus I hear myself playing the bass, notes and stuff, because sometimes I need to give myself content.
Then, with the melody with the
Oh plenty, listening back to that,
it says the Burma
we learn to disease.
To be totally honest, I didn't want to be an artist in the beginning. I wanted to be
just a musician. I wanted to play for people on tour. That was my biggest dream initially and then I started to write and produce
and that's what I wanted to be I to be Quincy Jones. I wanted to write songs for other people and
happened was I will write these songs and they didn't
Did anybody and it was just coming from me and I was like I will
if a melody, it's so much me that it can't fit
someone else, then maybe you know it's just meant for me.
because I had that idea for the song. I brought the band into the studio. Let me see if this inspires me to actually write it, so we went in there and I just tried to start to build the song still without any lyrics or words
I'm playing that leave ya some type of mug,
For me, as a keyboard player first sounds inspire me. The sounds telling me how to sing it.
those melodies, determine what I say.
If you love me,
just say so sorry to listen is is no competition,
keep in school
totally different words. There
at the same, so I knew I wanted to say that that was such a
empathy concept to me. If you
love me. You know just say so. Are you
We started the chorus you know just because that is the grand idea for me. So once
had the chorus. Then I started to say: ok, we'll why my asking her to just say so you know so I started doing those
his voice notes
eating hard for me to hold my own
cause no one wants to be in love alone
I've wanted somebody to just say it to me where it's like
no we're here, but you are really communicating our you fill in the how I'm feeling you know and it
something that I naturally felt
acted to cause? I know how that feels to want somebody to just express their feelings
as a writer which you're tryin always shoot for is coming from a specific place that specific to which you feel when you write it according to you, but you know, a bunch of people can relate to it
and that's what got me to that. First, verse, which
is getting hard for me to hold my own. Nobody wants to be in love alone.
Nobody wants to.
Oh good thing indeed Maxie single and I have some first begins
My guns in ahead, say so
I put it on There- merit the third song almost like. I don't think
is as good as everything else you know, and
for me say so was really kind of my throw away. I know the song spoke to me, but from a production standpoint
just isn't it was in a strong. Is everything else that I was working on,
and when I listen to that version.
Again, the way you know the drums or in the way a little bit for me. Even all the extra background book was, it was
just kind of in the way of this very simple message, so I pulled the whole thing:
Just a memory mere. He was just gonna, be a memory, but we made me go back to it
because I was kind of done with it cuz I asked
rip the song from everywhere. So if you didn't buy it at the time, you don't have that first version, but I
we're being and Australia, and somebody requested it
and it was so long after that that I didn't even remember all the words I tried to sing it for this couple because they said
they ve got engaged on the soundness and, unlike really that's
and I would always see people referencing it where's this song say so I used to listen to that all the time. So I was like
it'll take another look at it and that's when I started from scratch really
the I just wanted to see if this was even worth my time, you know so I set my phone up at the piano and started to say. Alright, let's see what we're trying to say sometimes I'll, build a whole track and build a song and then go
the piano and see if it still speaks to me with nothing with none of that production.
like. I, let me give it the space it deserves. So you can hear these simple words. I'm trying to say to you- and I think it
started to change from me immediately once I did that sort of different rhythm. It fell
more, like a conversation when I started to,
to reimagine. It
want somebody else to be saying this. I want there to be perspective.
I wanted to feel like two people going through. This actually
I was thinking of different singers to see who could work for this, and you think that
people could just sing that because it feels simple, but it's not really, and so I knew it had to be a real singer. You know it wasn't. Just somebody was was popping at the time it was like. No, I need somebody who can really emote and get this message across and I had only met Joe Joe in person, maybe one time prior to that. We didn't really know each other. I've always been a fan.
or a voice, but there was a you know us.
story of her getting out of her deal. Finally, that she had been stuck in for.
ten years or something like that, and I was listen
so our voice and I'm like you, know what she would be perfect for this.
My name is Jojo. I think
cast for my email and said that
there's something one send me just hey. Let me know if you like this and if you'd be interested in singing this with me and
first listen. I just loved the song
Then, once I was like yeah
I haven't been very. We talked about you know who takes what
are and how we could do it. The first verse
It's supposed to be me by myself initially, but once we got there, I was like. Oh,
do the whole first verse together
for me to home
nobody wants to be. I thought
something very beautiful
What about the fact that we were singing in octaves in the first verse, but I need to know right now. No lies just fan, it was
really challenging and exciting? For me,
here's something that he did and I let me wrap my head around that
I can remember saying: oh wait. You
low curl right there
just say so,
she was the one. That said, oh no, let me catch that just
the runs that he hears in his head are out of this world
so it was like a master class for me in playing as the vocalist
just say so.
Need to know from you right now before I go ooh, oh
Like a team like we fit together,
So the decision to have her by herself on the second verse, I think, had to do more with the bill.
in the song. There was more of a production thing for me
that can fill them full Indy.
Not on the phone me, and that first
I know the chorus I was like. Okay, that's the way you going to harmonize on to on
I feel a sense of oh cause. I can't play these games with no, no, oh she's amazing.
I started to build it
and build the rhythm in the snaps,
and then eventually, bringing that whole beat.
no high hat there like it was in that original.
had little ghosts snares, none of it.
There is literally kick in black purple.
I wasn't trying to take the attention away from the message I just was trying to add to it and it needed a push, but not so much of a push where it got in the way
I play bass, but I don't really try to play bass on them on my records. Do not try to get real bass players, the bass player. My friend dj. I remember calling him last minute and I was like hey man. Can you get to the studio like now, and I had him? Do it really quickly? It's just that intro in the vamp and he was like what can I do it one more time I was like nope. That's all I need thank you. I like it
that is sort of become a signature of mine, putting both more bass than live bass together when they speak different languages down there in that register and different textures, you can replace the human the fingers going across those strings to give some life, but then the true bottom of that mode and the roundness of it and the won't walk, is something that I can't get out of the real base. So I just let them both live in there together,
The high end of the mode. That's me play
three different layers of it, because it's mono, so I couldn't play the harmony together. So
is me planet,
and they probably aren't totally align you know, but they did
together alive. You know their human, so I don't need them to be perfectly together, be kind of
gives a rain slide to me of melody the song
just kept getting bigger as it went along. It was like it started off as this little simple piano thing and then it's like voices and voices and sounds- and it was doing
exactly. What I wanted to feel
I think we
both me and Jojo, both knew it when we
left the studio like we did something here. This is
doesn't always happen I felt like.
in a new classic. There's three:
Then it sat where he did for years, because I didn't feel that, but it's really some of my
and they made me
another look at the song and I'm grateful because I would have left it. You know I would have left it
I'm so happy that I
give up on it and really took the time to
you think it and come back to it. It makes it
and now here say so by Pga, Morton, featuring Georgia in its entirety.
nobody wants to be.
so I'm trying my best
I need to know right now. No lies just
so, if you just say so cause I can't play these games with you know. So, if you're me just say so, I need to know from you right now before I go that I can feel the fun is fine with me and I need to know if this is a few feel the same way that the cause I can't play these games with the the visit song exploder dot.
to learn more you'll, find links to buy or stream say so, and you can watch the music video for it thanks.
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Transcript generated on 2022-03-27.