Ian Kirkpatrick Co-Writes & Produces Hits For Dua Lipa (“Don’t Start Now,” “New Rules”) Plus Hits For Selena Gomez, Jason Derulo And Other Artists

Ian Kirkpatrick
Ian Kirkpatrick

During the past five years, songwriter & producer Ian Kirkpatrick has emerged as a top hitmaker in pop music. Impressively, he co-wrote & produced pop star Dua Lipa’s current Top 10 hit, “Don’t Start Now,” which is #6 this week on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart, and a hit in many other countries. He also co-wrote & produced Lipa’s 2017 breakthrough hit, “New Rules.”

In addition, Kirkpatrick has collaborated on hits for Selena Gomez (“Bad Liar,” “Back to You,” “Look at Her Now”), Jason Derulo (“Want to Want Me”), and Justin Bieber feat. Halsey (“This Feeling”).

Based in Los Angeles, Kirkpatrick is a multi-instrumentalist who specializes in creating fresh, cutting-edge music tracks and hooky melodies, and he works closely with songwriters & artists who write lyrics and melodies. In most cases, he co-writes the song and produces the recording, although in some cases he’ll also work solely as the producer.

Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Ian Kirkpatrick, who tells how he co-wrote (with Dua Lipa, Emily Warren & Caroline Ailin) and produced Dua Lipa’s big hit, “‘Don’t Start Now.”


Kirkpatrick got his start producing rock bands, and he had his first hit when he co-wrote & produced electronic rock duo Breathe Carolina’s 2011 single, “Blackout.” Notably, he produced the group’s album, Hell Is What You Make It, which was certified platinum. He also produced albums by the bands Young the Giant, Neon Trees and Plain White T’s.

It was Kirkpatrick’s early success as a producer, that led to him co-writing with hit pop songwriters and artists. He then had a breakthrough in 2015, when he co-wrote & produced the Top 5 pop hit “Want to Want Me” for Jason Derulo. Following this, he had pop chart singles with Justin Bieber feat. Halsey (“This Feeling”), Andy Grammer (“Good to Be Alive (Hallelujah),” “Fresh Eyes”), Nick Jonas (“Levels”) and Jason Derulo (“If It Ain’t Love”).

In 2017, Kirkpatrick struck up another hit collaboration, working with pop star Selena Gomez. Their first hit together was “Bad Liar,” and it was followed by “Back to You” (a single from the hit TV series, 13 Reasons Why). On Gomez’s new album called Rare, he co-wrote & produced the hit “Look at Her Now” and the song, “A Sweeter Place.”

Kirkpatrick has also co-written and/or produced songs for Fifth Harmony, Shawn Mendes, Britney Spears, Chris Brown, Pitbull, Lauv, Blake Shelton, Jon Bellion, the Chainsmokers, Julia Michaels, Ellie Goulding, Backstreet Boys, Ally Brooke, Hilary Duff and other artists.

Here’s the video of Dua Lipa’s hit “Don’t Start Now,” which was
co-written by Ian Kirkpatrick.

Kirkpatrick is managed by Dan Petel of This Is Noise Management, and he’s signed a publishing deal with Warner/Chappell Music.

Ian Kirkpatrick Interview
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Ian Kirkpatrick. He discusses his hits with Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo, and he mentions an artist that he would love to work with.

DK: I read that you’re from Los Angeles. How did you get started as a musician?

Ian Kirkpatrick: Yes, I grew up in Los Angeles; in Encino, in the Valley. Music started for me when I was 5 years old, when I got a drum set for my birthday. Playing the drums was a headache for my parents obviously, but I slowly progressed into playing in some small bands in junior high and high school. Then in 1998, I heard a CD by Aphex Twin and became obsessed with the production and details, and I realized I needed a computer to do those things. So around the end of high school, I started playing around with computers. Then throughout college and just after college, music was still a hobby, and it slowly turned into a profession.

DK: You started out playing drums. Now as a producer, do you play all the instruments?

Kirkpatrick: Well I play all instruments, but not great. I think if you’re a drummer, you have the advantage of seeming like you can play instruments, because you have rhythm. So I can play keys and guitar, but my strengths are in the rhythm and the drums.

DK: On your current hit, “Don’t Start Now” for Dua Lipa, it’s a got a great bass line and track. Is that you playing those parts?

Kirkpatrick: Yeah, those parts are me. The bass sounds live, but it’s actually midi. I grew up on Daft Punk, the Bee Gees and some cool European DJs, so those bass lines are ingrained in my soul. It’s like my favorite mix of disco and Euro-funk stuff. Also, with the wonderful world of midi, you don’t have to be the best bass player. You can play it [rough] on keyboard, and go in and fix it. I’m definitely not the best musician, but I can hear it in my head and make it happen with midi.

Here’s the video of Dua Lipa’s hit “New Rules,” which was
co-written by Ian Kirkpatrick.

DK: Growing up in L.A., what was your first big break in the music business?

Kirkpatrick: Around 2004 my manager, Dan Petel, and I started a recording studio in his parents’ garage. We were recording a lot of local bands, and we slowly started working with bands on labels like Hollywood Records, Fearless and Drive-Thru Records. We were kind of in the bottom of the Warped Tour scene. When we were working with bands that were on labels, it got a little more serious, and this band I was working with, Breathe Carolina, had a song called “Blackout” that we wrote. It made the Top 40 charts, and that was the break that got me sessions with Bonnie McKee, JKash and other writers who were having big pop hits.

DK: You started out producing rock bands. So how did you connect with pop/R&B star Jason Derulo and co-write his hit, “Want to Want Me”?

Kirkpatrick: I thought for a long time, I was just going to be a producer in the more traditional sense. I did full records for The Jakes, who are called Young The Giant now. I would do the pre-production, where we spent a month together with a band, and help them write the songs, and then go into the studio for another month. And that would be stressful and hard, and take a few months. Then (A&R exec) Marc Wilson from Warner/Chappell hit me on MySpace of all places, and he said, “What do you think of signing with Warner/Chappell?” And that opened me up to the world of writing songs for and with artists, like one-off songs, and try to do stuff that gets on the radio. That was the most wonderful feeling, because instead of putting all my eggs in one basket, in a band, I could do a bunch of songs and see who wanted to cut the song. It seemed more fun and diverse, and I fell in love with the challenge of creating pop music.

For Jason Derulo’s “Want To Want Me,” that song was written in a cabin in Lake Arrowhead. It was myself and five other songwriters…it was basically a group of friends. We started the song in Arrowhead, and (music exec) Mike Caren at APG Music heard it, because he worked with one of the writers on it, Sam Martin. And Mike was like, “This song has so much potential,” and he helped make that song a hit. He said, “Change these notes and try this,” and got it to a point where there were four or five artists who wanted to cut the song. And for me, I really liked Jason Derulo’s vocal, and he changed the melodies, and he did some incredible vocal gymnastics that took the song to the next level.

Here’s the video of Selena Gomez’s hit “Look At Her Now,”
which was co-written by Ian Kirkpatrick.

DK: Two years later, you had a big hit with “New Rules” by Dua Lipa. How did you co-write & produce “New Rules”?

Kirkpatrick: “New Rules” was written at a songwriting camp, and a couple weeks later my managers sent it to Dua Lipa’s A&R exec, Joe Kentish. I’d been doing some sessions with her. Then two weeks later he hit my manager back, and said that Dua would be cutting the song. And when Dua put her voice on it, it was like “Holy shit!” It was something else. You’ve heard her sing…Dua’s voice changes records.

So once Dua put her voice on it, all of a sudden it was like, “It’s gonna be a single,” and then I went it on the production. I drank a lot of coffee (laughs) and had way too much fun. “New Rules” was kind of a sleeper, because it also had help by having a great music video. The video was so good; it really reinforced the point of the song, of girls supporting girls, and it shows how positive it is. And obviously, Dua’s stage presence and her whole vibe is so confident. Thankfully, everything just worked out with that song.

DK: Currently, you’re on the charts with Dua’s new hit, “Don’t Start Now.” Can you talk about how this song came together?

Kirkpatrick: “Don’t Start Now” was started in Wyoming at (hit songwriter) Emily Warren’s place. It was started with Dua in mind. {Over the past two years) Dua had blown up and she was working with everyone now; she’s in with Diplo, and with Mark Ronson. And it was like…it’s cool to get the first hit, but to get the second one would be the coolest thing ever (laughs). We were chasing it for a long time. We were trying [to write a song with Dua’s] sophisticated, confident, sassiness, and what came out of it was “Don’t Start Now.” What I love about what (co-writers) Emily, Caroline (Aaron) and Dua did, is that all the lyrics are confident and they’re smart. It was like, “I’ve recovered from this, and I’m even better now, and if you don’t wanna see it, don’t show up. Because you’re gonna see just how good I’m doing.” I love that message…I think that people resonate with that. And for me (with the music & production), I got to go Bee Gees, and you know, a little Two Door Cinema Club and Daft Punk influence. The sound of “Don’t Start Now” is probably my guilty pleasure of production. It’s exactly the kind of song I love to produce.

Here’s the video of Jason Derulo’s hit “Want To Want Me,”
which was co-written by Ian Kirkpatrick.

DK: You‘ve also had several hits with Selena Gomez, such as “Bad Liar,” “Back To You” and “Look at Her Now.” How did you connect with Selena?

Kirkpatrick: Selena works a lot with (hit songwriters) Julia Michaels and Justin Tranter, who I also work with a lot. Eventually, they brought me in on the project, and Selena quickly became one of my favorite artists to collaborate with. She’s always down to take risks, not only lyrically…being so revealing and honest with her songwriting, but also production-wise. She always wants to do cool, different things. If you listen to her new album, Rare, literally every song is so different, and they’re all amazing songs and productions.

With our song “Look at Her Now,” I had the track started, and I played it for a few different writers in different sessions, and people said, “this is too weird.” But when I played it for Selena…she and Julia looked at each other, and Justin was there too, and they were all like, “this is incredible.” (At the time) we were writing a sad ballad, and Selena said, “Can we do something uptempo?” So I played this track and she said, “this is awesome—let’s do this.” And I was like, “Hell yes! Let’s go.”

DK: As a producer and as a songwriter, what do you feel are your strengths?

Kirkpatrick: It’s a good question. I’m super OCD in general, but production is the perfect scratch for that itch, if you know what I’m saying. I love details, and I’m obsessed with 101% improvements that add up to this big, substantial difference in a song. I think I’m good with rhythms and stuff because I’m a drummer, but I’d like to think my real strength is exploring all the different ways of finding contrasts and dynamics, and juxtaposing things. Like now, I’m obsessed with how to support the vocal in the best way, and not overproduce. I think my strength is in the details, and finding the place for everything in the song. And thank God for coffee (laughs), because that is like my co-producer (during the long hours).

DK: Besides working with Dua Lipa, Selena Gomez and Jason Derulo, what are some of your other favorite projects that you’ve worked on?

Kirkpatrick: One of my favorite projects to work on is Julia Michaels’ music. She’s like Selena in a sense, that she’s always down to try different stuff. Sometimes pop music can get kind of homogeneous and start to sound the same. But Julia’s like the anti-pop writer. She’s always trying to do something different, and she’s always chasing inspiration. That’s why I love working with her.

Also, I recently started doing some work with the Chainsmokers, and they’re incredible…the most crazy, creative dudes, and such good guys. Andy Grammer is another great artist I love working with…it’s always a good time.

There’s a great artist that I would love to work with—Lizzo. I haven’t worked with her yet, but there’s a chance that I might work with her in a month or so. So I’m just gonna add to her to that list of favorites, because I’m so excited and I know she’ll be one of my favorite artists I’ve ever worked with.

DK: So should I mention Lizzo in this article, even though you haven’t worked with her yet?

Kirkpatrick: Oh yeah, I need all the help I can get (laughs). She’s obviously so huge now, and everyone wants to work with her. So I’m just one of those hundred producers that she’s probably going to meet and have one session with, and see how it goes. But I’m so in love with her artist project, and the way she sings, that I’m really trying…I’m prepping tracks and everything.

Dale Kawashima is the Head of SongwriterUniverse and a music journalist. He’s also a music publishing exec who has represented the song catalogs of Michael Jackson, Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and Motown Records.
Dale Kawashima