Writer/Producer Cook Classics Co-Writes The Hits “High Hopes” For Panic! At The Disco And “Sweet But Psycho” For Ava Max
During the past eight years, Cook Classics (aka Will Lobban-Bean) has been a successful songwriter & producer who has collaborated with artists in several genres, including pop, hip-hop, R&B and rock. First emerging in 2011, when he by co-wrote & produced pop/hip-hop artist Outasight’s Top 40 single “Tonight Is the Night,” he then had his first Top 10 hit in 2015 when he co-wrote & produced “Somebody” for Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih.
Notwithstanding these fine achievements, Cook Classics is currently enjoying a higher level of success. He co-wrote the worldwide hit “High Hopes” for rock/pop band Panic! at the Disco, which went Top 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #1 on the Hot Rock Songs chart. Impressively, it is still on the charts almost a year after its release.
On top of this, Cook Classics has another hit that is moving up the charts. He co-wrote the single “Sweet but Psycho” by pop artist Ava Max. This record has already reached #1 in many countries including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden, and it’s nearing the Top 10 in the U.S.
Born and raised in New York City, Cook Classics moved to Southern California to attend college, and then he settled in Los Angeles to pursue his music career. His specialty is making beats, creating tracks and producing. In addition to writing & producing songs for many artists, he’s also had sync success, placing his music in movies, TV shows, commercials and video games.
Here’s a list of other artists who Cook Classics has had cuts with: Beyonce, Charlie Puth, Martin Garrix, Chris Brown, Troye Sivan, Jason Derulo, Kevin Gates, Flo Rida, Pitbull, Lil Wayne, Hey Violet, Machine Gun Kelly, Austin Mahone, Max Frost, Conrad Sewell, Cee Lo Green, Jamie Foxx, Kid Ink, Trey Songz and Sam Martin.
Cook Classics is managed by Hannah Babitt and Dan Petel of This Is Noise Management, and he’s signed with APG Music Publishing.
We’re pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Cook Classics. He tells how he got started in the music business, and how he co-wrote his hit songs “High Hopes” and “Sweet but Psycho.”
DK: Where are you from, and how did you get started as a musician?
Cook Classics: I’m from New York City—I grew up in West Village, Tribeca, Brooklyn…all over downtown New York. I played the piano a little bit when I was around 10 years old. And I grew up in a creative household; my mom is a singer, actress and writer, and my dad’s a fashion photographer. For college, I went to Pomona College in Claremont, which is near Los Angeles.
DK: One of your specialties is making beats. When did you start doing this?
Here’s the video of Panic! at the Disco’s hit “High Hopes,” which
was co-written by Cook Classics.
Cook Classics: It was during college that I got into making hip-hop beats. I grew up listening to a lot of classic artists, like Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Frank Sinatra. But for some reason, I really got into underground hip-hop when I was in college, and I got into sampling. I learned about different producers, and how they made certain [sounds]. I realized that Dr. Dre was sampling P-Funk or another classic record, and I was like…Oh my God, I can do that. Not that I’m Dr. Dre by any means, but it became tangible, to think that I had access to the same things that other people had access to.
DK: After you were at Pomona College, how did you go from being a student making beats, to writing and producing for other artists?
Cook Classics: Yeah, that was a long road. I moved to L.A. with a friend of mine from college, with the intention of doing whatever I needed to do to make music and network. I did random odd jobs for work, and every now and again somebody would pay me for a beat. At the time, I was was just making beats day and night, staying up until 5 o’clock in the morning, and going out and meeting different singers and rappers and getting on the internet, collaborating as much as possible. And you know, if you do that long enough and you’re persistent, the dominoes start falling.
Then around 2008 I did a mixtape, and I had a friend helping me put the whole thing together. He introduced me to Miguel, Aloe Blacc and other artists. And through that, I met [the artist] Outasight, and that was probably the biggest turning point in my career. I started working with him a ton, and we did 40 songs. And over the two years of us working together and doing mixtapes and EPs, he got upstreamed to Warner Bros. Records. Then in 2011, he had a hit called “Tonight Is the Night,” and we had a big sync placement in a Pepsi ad campaign. So that helped launch the song. I then signed a music publishing deal with Sony, and that was the turning point for me, from being independent and really hustling and not having many credits, to having a publisher behind me and having more access to writers for collaborating.
DK: Over the years, you’ve continued to work with Outasight, including his latest album. Can you talk about your connection with Outasight, and how you’ve kept working with him?
Cook Classics: He’s a close friend of mine, and we’ve had so much success together. “Tonight Is the Night” is one of the most significant songs to me, because it changed my life more than anything else. And to be linked with another artist like that, I feel fortunate to continue collaborating with him. Also, we found ourselves in a lane of getting a lot of syncs, so we’ve been getting commercials, movie trailers, movie credits and video games. So not only is it a great creative collaboration and friendship, it’s nice to be able to make music and know that it’s gonna go somewhere.
Here’s the video of Ava Max’s hit “Sweet but Psycho,” which was
co-written by Cook Classics.
DK: Around 2015, you had your first Top 10 hit “Somebody” with Natalie La Rose feat. Jeremih. How did this song come together?
Cook Classics: That was a track I made with the production duo The Futuristics, who are close friends. At the time, Natalie La Rose was unsigned, and I believe Mike Caren, who is my publisher and The Futuristics’ publisher at APG Music, was talking to Natalie about working with her. [Natalie recorded] the song, and I believe Mike sent it to Wendy Goldstein (A&R exec), who signed Natalie to Republic Records. And this happened really quickly, where we finished the production, and it came out a month later. “Somebody” ended up going Top 10 in Billboard, and it was an amazing experience to see a song take off like that.
DK: You recently had a big hit, co-writing “High Hopes” for Panic! at the Disco. How did you co-write this song with the other writers?
Cook Classics: We were in Aspen, Colorado, at a BMI writing camp. I believe I was one of the first people there, with (hit songwriters) Ilsey Juber, Jonas Jeberg, and Tayla Parx. I remember talking with Ilsey in the living room, and she mentioned that she had an idea for a song called “High Hopes.” And I was like, “That’s really cool, let’s do that.” Jonas and Tayla were also there. It was like…we’re in Aspen, in the Rocky Mountains, and there’s a hot tub. So we went down to the hot tub and we started messing around and coming up with ideas. In the hot tub, I had my OP-1, which is a little, portable synthesizer made by Teenage Engineering. And there was some collaboration between Jonas and I, noodling on the OP-1, with him singing things and Tayla singing things. Then I think Tayla started singing the “High Hopes” melody, and then Ilsey came in, and it snowballed and morphed into things.
We got to a point where we’re like, “Okay, this is as far as we can go in a hot tub. Let’s go up to the bedroom, plug in our laptops and pull up some sounds.” So after about an hour on the laptop, we kind of had it…we thought it was a rap hook, so we just left it at that. Then Jonas and I went back and forth once we got back to L.A., doing a bunch of different versions, and pitching it to different artists. Around that time, I believe my manager, Dan Petel, was talking about it with Evan Taubenfeld (of Crush Music), who manages Panic! at the Disco and Ilsey Juber. And Evan thought it was a smash.
Then about 18 months passed, and I see Evan Taubenfeld and he’s like, “Dude, this song is amazing.” By then, Jake Sinclair had finished the production, and they brought in (hit songwriter) Sam Hollander and other writers who helped write the pre-hook and finish the verses. And the next thing I know, Crush is super excited about it, Panic! at the Disco put it out, and it starts doing well at Alternative radio. Then it starts doing well at Hot AC and then it went to Pop radio, and it kept going higher on the charts. It was crazy…I don’t think anybody knew it was going to do as well as it did.
Here’s the video of Natalie La Rose’s hit “Somebody,” which
was co-written by Cook Classics.
DK: Currently, you have another hit, “Sweet But Psycho” for Ava Max. How did you co-write this song?
Cook Classics: That one was a bit of a different situation for me. There originally was a hook melody with no lyric that Mike Caren liked. He thought it was a hit melody, so he sent it to me to work on the production, and (hit songwriter) Madison Love came in and wrote lyrics for the hook, and we worked together to write the verses and pre-hooks. Madison did most of the writing, but I was there working on it with the music. Mike Caren [heard what we’d done], and thought it would be great for Ava Max. And so Ava got involved with it, and (hit writer/producer) Cirkut got involved. Cirkut did the production for that song.
DK: Now that you’ve had two recent hits, what are the new projects you’re working on?
Cook Classics: I have a lot of new cuts that are pending, that I can’t quite talk about yet. I’ll be doing more music with Outasight this year, and I’m developing a few bands. I’m doing a rock project called Broke, and we put our first single out three weeks ago. I’m really excited about that project. And then I’ve been putting out a few songs as myself as an artist. I put one out featuring Outasight, and this song is in the new Shazam! movie and in the trailers. I also put a song out last year featuring Mike Taylor, and it’s starting to pick up traction as well.
DK: Thank you Cook for doing this interview. Is there anything that we haven’t talked about yet, that you’d like to mention for this article?
Cook Classics: I just want to stress the importance of all my collaborators, and working with my managers and with APG Music, and maintaining healthy, creative relationships with collaborators like Outasight, The Futuristics, and my guy (producer/musician) Shiben Bhattacharya, and just the importance of that in having success in music.