cover story Features November 25, 2019

Louis Schoorl: Meet the Aussie producer with a cut on Kesha’s new album

Louis Schoorl: Meet the Aussie producer with a cut on Kesha’s new album
Louis Schoorl / Jane Kelly

“There’s just so much. It just doesn’t stop,” says writer and producer Louis Schoorl down the line from Los Angeles.

Dutch-born Schoorl has been cutting his teeth in the pop songwriting capital of the world for the last couple of years after getting his start in Australia. He’s now developing some of the most exciting new pop voices and the world and has also just landed a song on Kesha’s forthcoming album High Road. 

Schoorl began his career in Australia after meeting his wife here. He built his own home studio and started the long road of pitching to record labels and artists. It took 7 years for him to land his first publishing deal but once it rained, it poured. 

“When I did get going it happened quick,” he says, noting that it was mostly through work with artists on the Sony Music Australia roster. He worked with on his 2012 number one record Armageddon, wrote with 5 Seconds Of Summer for their debut EP and contributed to Tina Arena’s Reset album. By 2015, the hits were rolling in. He worked on Sebastian’s Eurovision entry ‘Tonight Again’, collaborated heavily with Daniel Johns on his debut solo record ‘Talk’ and later co-wrote and co-produced Jessica Mauboy’s radio hit ‘Fallin’. 

Despite the success here, he realised that Australia is, “a very small pond.” After attending a songwriting camp in Bali for five years, he was guided by a team of people that encouraged him to make the move to LA where a number of Australian songwriters including Alex Hope and Sarah Aarons were having success. He signed a publishing deal with Mitch Allan’s Disney Music joint venture and started the grind. 

“I don’t know anywhere that can make you feel small quite like LA. Everyone else’s success is so in your face here,” he says, calling the experience of transferring from the Australian music scene, “a slice of humble pie.” 

His first breakthrough project was developing burgeoning pop artist Charlotte Lawrence. Since 2017, Lawrence has been nabbing big numbers on streaming. Schoorl has worked on multiple songs with the LA-based artist with one of them ‘Sleep Talking’ generating over 60 million streams on Spotify.

“It was fun to build an artist up from the ground and find a direction. That gave me the idea that it could actually work,” answers Schoorl, when asked whether there was a moment where he decided he could make it. 

Lawrence has since signed a deal with Atlantic and is still working with Schoorl on material for forthcoming projects. To put it in perspective, she’s also been penning songs with Charlie Puth, Ryan Tedder and Louis Bell. It’s not a bad pool to be amongst.

While Lawrence has been an artist of note for Schoorl, he’s also landed songs on projects for The Backstreet Boys, Why Don’t We and former Fifth Harmony member Ally Brooke. Funnily enough, one of his most involved projects is with Australian artist who has been working on her pop career from LA for the last 5 years. 

“She’s so good. It’s mind-blowing. I’ve been blown away by her from day one,” says Schoorl about working with CXLOE. He co-produced and co-wrote her most recent single ‘Devil You Don’t’ and teases that some of his favourite songs he’s done with her are still yet to be released.

While Lawrence now has a label behind her, CXLOE has been an independent artist from the start with Schoorl stressing that it’s not an easy road: “The thing with CXLOE is she had to put one song out and then make enough money from that song to put the next one out. It’s amazing how she’s built it up from scratch.”

As well as being excited about forthcoming CXLOE material, Schoorl also has one of his biggest songs yet with Kesha on the way. Set to be released with her album in January, ‘Chasing Thunder’ saw Schoorl work with Kesha and Jeff Bhasker who has produced for Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Lana Del Rey and more. It’s an experience that he calls, “a good career moment.”

Schoorl wrote multiple songs with Kesha for the record but there was only one that made the cut in the end, not a bad feat given that the album features some of the biggest producers and writers around from Ryan Lewis to Justin Tranter. Schoorl has nothing but good things to say about Kesha calling her, “a superstar” and “a great writer”. 

“I got to spend a couple days with her and Wrabel in a room. They’re an amazing duo of writers…It’s a fantastic thing to be a part of,” he continues. 

Despite the continuing success overseas, Schoorl hasn’t completely left Australia behind. He still has a property there with his wife and they are currently working on a startup together called Jaxsta which just launched he describes as, “an IMDB for the music industry.” He’s also been working with Australian artists there, notably having a hand in Mauboy’s most recent record Hilda. It’s the first album she’s co-written for and it’s also her first ARIA number one album.

“Jess Mauboy has found her confidence as a writer and she’s stepped up and realised she can do this,” says Schoorl, noting that her ability as a writer was something she only noticed halfway through the process, deciding to scrap the songs she’d been pitched earlier on. 

It’s Mauboy’s first original studio album in five years, something that shows the decline in frequency of Australian pop artists releasing albums. According to Schoorl, it’s becoming harder and harder for writers and producers to pitch music as albums fade and talent shows rely less on original music.

“For songwriters to write and pitch for others, there’s one single a year on The Voice and then now you’ve got Eurovision too,” he says.

“Imagine having the whole industry of young songwriters all trying to write for the same thing. It didn’t used to be that way. There used to be a lot more opportunities… Streaming has changed the whole game, it’s become a singles game.”

Thankfully for Schoorl, he’s got plenty of work going on in LA. He’s excited about the music that he has coming up and also about the wave of Australian talent that are making their way over to LA. He namechecks everyone from ex-Evermore member Dann Hume to local pop voice and songwriter Ivy Adara as writers and producers who are making a big splash in the city.

Just like he did in Australia earlier in the decade, Schoorl is beginning to shape the new sound of pop. His forthcoming song list includes work with exciting new names Carlie Hanson, Olivia Holt, New Hope Club and more. It won’t be long before he’s infiltrating global pop charts. 

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