Jason Reeves On Collaboration

Singer-songwriter Jason Reeves was making music in his native Iowa when he got a call from a producer inviting him to L.A. Upon arriving, one of the first people he met was a then-unknown songstress named Colbie Caillat. The tunes they would write together became her smash debut. With three indie releases under his belt, Reeves has just released his first major label offering, The Magnificent Adventures of Heartache (and Other Frightening Tales) [Warner Bros.], which finds him co-writing most of the album’s 16 songs. —Matt Blackett
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How did you hook up with Colbie Caillat?

[Producer] Mikal Blue’s manager had found my music on CD Baby—this was before MySpace. I got a call from Mikal, asking me if I wanted to record my songs in L.A. I met Colbie through him because he produced both our records. She and I started writing together, and those songs turned into her first record.

Your styles have a lot in common. Is it easier to co-write with someone who sings and plays like you?

Not necessarily. I think we sound like each other because we started this whole thing together. We started playing together, and that was the sound that came out.

You now have this great network of writers and producers that you can get songs to. Does that give you a sense of freedom?

Yeah. It’s great to know that now I don’t have to write a song for myself. A lot of times you might come up with an idea, and you won’t know where it came from, but it doesn’t represent you. It’s not something that you want to sing. It’s really cool that I can give it to somebody else and it doesn’t have to be a wasted idea.

What’s the best piece of songwriting advice you’ve gotten?

I remember early on, I had a handful of songs and someone told me, “You’re going to need to write 100 more before you really start to like them.” That was true, although I didn’t believe it at the time. As for advice that I would give, I’d say play and write with others as much as you can. I’ve been really fortunate to write with good people, and I’ve learned everything from that.