Interview: Meet Jim Beanz: The Secret Weapon In Timbaland’s Camp
When you can come up with the infamous line “It’s Britney, Bitch”, that should be enough to validate you as a genius. However, it doesn’t stop there for Jim Beanz whose talents have been sorely needed in the industry. Though many may not know him by name, they’ve certainly heard his sound. He played a huge role on Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” album followed by Britney Spears “Blackout” album, both of which have gone down as two of the most creative albums in recent memory. YouKnowIGotSoul had a chance to speak with Jim Beanz about his history with Timbaland, some of his most memorable collaborations and also some of the music he’s working on now including JoJo’s new album as well as Timbaland’s “Shock Value 3” album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: How did you originally link up with Timbaland?
Jim Beanz: I was working with an artist years ago; around the time Timbaland was working on the song “Indian Flute” with an Indian artist. Something went down with the artist that he was working with, and he ended up hearing a song that I did with an Indian artist who I happened to be working with. Timbaland loved the vocal production on the project that I was working on and flew me down to Miami to meet him. This was around the time when he was working on Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” project, so when I got down to Miami, he kind of threw me into that project to see what I could bring to the table. So, that’s how I started working with Timbaland.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk about your role as a vocal producer because I don’t think everyone really appreciates what it is that you really do.
Jim Beanz: Well I’m sort of the one who produces all the weird sounds that aren’t necessarily samples. As far as what I do beyond me using my voice as an instrument, I do the same for the artists I’m working with. I’m basically the one that molds the artist into the track, by aligning their vocals towards the direction of the record.
YouKnowIGotSoul: One project you were heavily involved with early on Nelly Furtado’s “Loose” project. What do you remember about working on that album?
Jim Beanz: We had very “left side of the brain” ideas. We just did anything that came to mind. That was my first time working with Timbaland and I knew I had to show off my talent. It felt like I was going in there and doing the craziest stuff. I did everything from opera to chants. I just did the most weird, abstract types of things you could think to do with vocals.
YouKnowIGotSoul: You were signed to Timbaland as a vocal producer, but you’re now also known for your writing and production. How did you get your talents to be noticed?
Jim Beanz: The first thing Timbaland noticed about me was my vocal production, but he didn’t know I also produced songs. Over the years, I would come to him and play him tracks and stuff that I worked on. He would be like, “Man you’re dope!” One of the first songs that I produced with Timbaland was Jennifer Hudson’s “Pocketbook”. From then on, I was looked at as not only a vocal producer, but as a song writer and producer as well. After that came “If We Ever Meet Again” featuring Timbaland and Katy Perry off the album “Shock Value 2”. Since then, I’ve just been showing people that I’m not only a vocal producer, but also a song writer and producer as well.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Talk to me about your writing process especially when you’re writing over a Timbaland or Danja beat because their music is very unorthodoxed.
Jim Beanz: It is unorthodox. What’s great about it is that you get to think outside the box in terms of your own creativity. You can’t have a song that has so many abstract sounds in it and have the lyrics and melodies sound normal. It’s not easy, and not everyone can do it. The greats are the ones that can make the craziest beats come to life with words and ideas. A lot of times it comes from a sound I hear off one of their tracks. Then I’ll go off on a writing tangent based on that sound.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Danity Kane “Right Now”
Jim Beanz: That was the first time I worked with Danity Kane. This was before I did the “Welcome to the Dollhouse” album. “Right Now” was my first time showing the girls that I had the ability to take five different female vocalists and make them sound like they really fit together as a group, which is not easy. A lot of times when you hear a song with a group of three or four people, they won’t let everyone sing because somebody might stick out like a sore thumb or the sounds just don’t mesh well. It wasn’t until after the writing and producing I did on “Right Now” that the girls made the call for me to work on their next album.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Keri Hilson “Slow Dance”
Jim Beanz: We recorded that in Virginia at Timbaland’s studio. That was a great song. That was one of the first songs I actually worked on with Keri Hilson. It was a great experience. The beat box breakdown in the bridge was actually my first time beat boxing on a record.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Day 26 “Made Love Lately”
Jim Beanz: I wrote and produced that song. That was the first time since Day 26’s last album that I got a chance to work with them. It kind of came about out of the blue. I actually wrote that song years back. I was with Brian and Will and I told them I had a song that I felt nobody would be able to pull off as far as a male group. I didn’t think anyone could deliver the vocals on it. I was kind of going for like a Jodeci feel, and to me, that song’s vocals are very reminiscent of a new age Jodeci. They said they were down to do it and snatched that record. I flew down to Miami and recorded the song at Circle House. It was a great experience. I think it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever produced.
YouKnowIGotSoul: JoJo “Sexy To Me”
Jim Beanz: That track was produced by Danja. I first met him through Timbaland and have been working with him for at least 9 years. I ended up getting a phone call from Danja and he told me he was going in on a project with JoJo and wanted me to do the writing and the top line for it. Danja put on this crazy track, “Sexy To Me”, which is sort of like a flirty record. I felt that I had to make sure JoJo killed the song vocally. Her vocals are slamming on that song. The girl is running and rifting. She’s a very talented artist. I’m blessed that I’ve had the chance to work with both JoJo and Danja on that track.
YouKnowIGotSoul: I know you’ve been working with JoJo on her upcoming project. What can you tell us about the work you’ve done with her and are there any songs that you feel stands out?
Jim Beanz: Me and JoJo did about 6-7 songs together for her project. I don’t know which ones stuck, but I will say she’s amazing and each song we did really showcases her vocal capability. We had fun doing it. The majority of what I did was recorded in Los Angeles. It’s going to be crazy. She’s matured as a young woman now, so the songs are a little bit more mature then when she first came out. Now she really wants to showcase that she’s older, she’s not a girl anymore, and that she’s on to the next phase of her life. The songs are really dope. A lot of people are going to be shocked with a few of the lyrics she says here and there, but it really showcases her vocal capability and where she is as an artist.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Can you talk about the “Shock Value 3” album a little bit and what sonund you guys are going for this time around?
Jim Beanz: Timbaland could never do the same thing twice. One thing he told me, as far as the work I’ve done, is to never repeat yourself because people begin to lose faith in your ability to grow as a producer, vocal producer, or artist. As far as “Shock Value 3”, I did some stuff with Timbaland, Missy Elliott, and even a joint with Pharrell on it. It’s going to be really crazy. He has a large roster of artists that are going to be on it and I think it’s going to be really dope. The music is definitely different than what you’re hearing on radio right now. That’s one thing Timbaland is known for, giving you something new with fresh ideas.
YouKnowIGotSoul: One thing I noticed with “Shock Value 2” is that there wasn’t a lot of R&B. Do you think there’s going to be a little more of that on this one?
Jim Beanz: This one has a little bit of everything in it. He has a few R&B artists, some Pop artists, and some Hip Hop artists on it. It’s going to be a mixture of everything. I don’t know exactly which songs are going to be the ones that make the final cut, but Timbaland has recorded roughly 1000 songs. I wouldn’t be surprised if he did a double CD. That man has so many songs in his vault, it’s just amazing.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Who are you working with?
Jim Beanz: I just came back from working with Justin Bieber and Timbaland. Right now I’m working on some stuff with an artist named of Cheryl Cole who is signed to will.i.am. I’ve also been doing some work with Jason DeRulo for his new project, as well as working with a few artists that are up and coming. I actually have an artist of my own named Chase Landon. He’s going to be sick!
YouKnowIGotSoul: I read that Timbaland is working with Brandy soon. Are you involved with that?
Jim Beanz: We’re supposed to be going in with her soon. Brandy has wanted to work with me for a while now, but I just haven’t had a chance to because of scheduling conflicts. As far as I know right now, she will be going in with Timbaland soon. Then when I get the call, I’ll end up flying to Miami for the session. But that hasn’t happened yet.
YouKnowIGotSoul: Anything you’d like to add?
Jim Beanz: Follow me at @BeanzBeanzBeanz. Be on the lookout for Chase Landon. It’s going to be a really cool project. Also, for the people who see me on Twitter, if I say anything crazy on there, don’t take it literally. I’m just crazy. I say some wild stuff and I don’t mean any of it. I’m just bored sometimes and I just have to get it out, otherwise it’ll end up in a song and sound terrible.