Charlie Puth’s ascension to stardom was no overnight success story. After posting his own videos and song covers on YouTube for several years, Puth struck music gold last year when he wrote, co-produced, and sang in Wiz Khalifa’s hit tune, “See You Again,” featured in the film Furious 7 as a tribute to the late actor Paul Walker. So far, the Grammy- and Golden Globe-nominated song has reached a staggering 1.5 billion views on YouTube and shows no signs of slowing down.
Embarking on a world tour for his debut studio album Nine Track Mind—with a stop at The Fonda Theatre in LA on March 6—Puth chatted with us about his success this past year, how he gets writing inspiration for his songs, and why Bruno Mars is the artist he wants to work with most.
“See You Again” is such a global success. Is it true that you had originally intended it for Sam Smith? Charlie Puth: Yeah, I wrote it not just for Sam Smith, but to audition a lot of people with that high upper-register type of voice. Then they asked me to sing it. I was very happy and excited.
Nine Track Mind is your first studio album. What was the experience like? CP: It was very organic, all made on my laptop. I traveled the world and got to work with some of my best friends. We went to Montecito in California, rented this house, and wrote some of the songs. It was just a really fun experience.
What’s your process like and where do you draw inspiration from? CP: Inspiration, to me, comes from every day life. Just looking around at maybe a tree a certain way, it will inspire a melody. My brain works very weird. I’m a very sensual person—I take in all of my senses. That’s how I write music.
Any particular song on the new album that’s more meaningful to you than the others? CP: "Losing My Mind" for sure because I was at a pretty low point in my songwriting life where I thought I was a failure. I couldn’t figure out what to write about, so I literally wrote a song about not knowing what to write about.
When you get to those points in your writing process, what helps you get out of it? CP: Eating food. Probably the unhealthy ones, like lots of pizza. Being around people, being around my friends. Energy is a real thing, and if I have good energy from them, it will inspire me to write an uplifting record.
In addition to Wiz Khalifa, you’ve also collaborated with some amazing artists like Meghan Trainor and Selena Gomez. Is there anyone on your bucket list that you’d like to work with? CP: I really want to work with Bruno Mars because the way he writes songs is very similar to how I write songs. He has good musical instincts and intentions, and I just think it would be so fantastic if he and I collaborated. I was going to go up to him at the Grammys, but I lost the courage because he looked busy. I didn’t want to bother him.
Now you’re going on a world tour. What are you most excited about? CP: I’ve been to these places, but I haven’t performed music outside of the United States in a show. I’m excited to see how they react—non-English speakers—because music is such a universal language. I might do something special for LA.