Pop

Charlie Puth Talks Love, Selena Gomez’s Strange Favorite Food + Which “Really Sexy” Female Singer Made Him Freeze

The "Marvin Gaye" singer is music's current boy on fire.

Midway through Charlie Puth’s first interview at VH1’s Lift Ticket to Ride Saturday, he started riffing a showtune on the piano with shocking precision. It’s the kind of move only a true musician would make–someone more interested in the smooth keys of a Baldwin Baby Grand than the sugary glitz of media attention.

That same virtuosic zeal permeated through our chat with Puth. Sprawled out on a distressed leather chair, he dished on everything from his sound to sexy female singers. Nearly every answer came back to the music, Puth’s biggest love–though he is excited about finding love elsewhere. Or falling in it.

Until then, the tunes will suffice. Puth was part of arguably the biggest song of 2015, Wiz Khalifa’s “See You Again.” His debut album Nine Track Mind is chock-full of soulful ear candy, including the hit single “Marvin Gaye” with Meghan Trainor (who he smooched at the 2015 American Music Awards). Puth performed a medley of his songs during an intimate Lift Ticket to Ride performance; he slayed, of course. That’s nothing new, but you’ll be surprised by some of the things he told us in the mountains.

How did you discover your sound as an artist?
I still don’t think I discovered my sound. I finished the album and I immediately started making a record the next day in Pro Tools and I was like, “This sounds, No.1, nothing like the record I just put out a day ago.” I’m still evolving and finding out what the sound is. I think [Nine Track Mind] is the first example of me attempting to figure out what that is. As long as it falls under the category of “soulful melodies”–“soulful pop music.” It can be more electronic in the future.

Nine Track Mind is creative and fresh but still has undeniable mainstream appeal. Was that intentional or organic?
It definitely is an intentional move. I came to Los Angeles a year before I made the album intending to be a songwriter-producer who is just making people singles. I’m very single-minded. When I made the album, I was like, “OK. It needs to make sense when you listen to it from start to finish.” It needs to all make sense–some sort of musical story. But at the same time, I want it to be catchy and know the chorus right away. I treated every song as a single.

What is your favorite song on the album?
“We Don’t Talk Anymore” with Selena [Gomez]. That’s a good example of a song of me coming closer to figuring out my sound. That was the last song I produced on the album. I thought the album was done and focused on just making a song. I called up Selena and she came over that night and recorded it. I was like, “Oh my gosh! There’s still time to submit this for the album!” Now, it’s one of the most popular songs. It’s produced 100 percent by me. Selena wrote on it, too.

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