Top songwriter & producer Jesse Frasure has enjoyed an enviable winning streak the last several years. For a fourth time in a row, the 2018 BMI Songwriter of the Year has won the Country Music Association’s Triple Play Award. Impressively, he penned three number one songs in the calendar years 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019.
Notably, Frasure has co-written 12 #1 hits and produced an additional eight #1 hits. His hits include Florida Georgia Line’s “Sun Daze” (his first #1), Chris Lane’s “Fix,” Rascal Flatts’ “I Like The Sound Of That,” Jon Pardi’s “Dirt On My Boots,” Lauren Alaina’s “Road Less Traveled,” Old Dominion’s “No Such Thing As A Broken Heart,” and Thomas Rhett’s “Crash And Burn,” “Unforgettable,” “Marry Me” and “Life Changes.” Rhett’s “Remember You Young,” Kane Brown & Marshmello’s “One Thing Right,” and Michael Ray’s “One That Got Away” were all top tunes in 2019.
Frasure is a CMA, ACM, and Dove Award-winning producer and songwriter, and a Grammy nominee for Best Country Album in 2018 and 2020 for Thomas Rhett’s Life Changes and Center Point Road. In under five years, he’s had over 125 cuts in the country, pop and Christian world. As a producer, he won the 2016 CMA and ACM award as the producer for Thomas Rhett’s Die a Happy Man. Frasure also has produced such artists as Kelsea Ballerini, Dan Tyminski, Lauren Alaina, Billy Currington, Little Big Town, Abby Anderson and Kylie Minogue. Interestingly, his resume also includes being an international DJ for Lil Wayne, Nicki Minaj, Alyssa Milano, Drake, Florida Georgia Line, Thomas Rhett, Chris Lane & Lauren Bushnell, and CeeLo Green.
In addition to his writing & producing, Frasure is a music publishing executive. In 2016, he launched a music publishing company called Rhythm House, which is a joint venture with Warner/Chappell Music and Roc Nation’s Nashville operations. His wife, Stevie Frasure, is Vice President of Creative at Rhythm House.
We are pleased to do this new Q&A interview with Jesse Frasure. He tells the stories behind last year’s chart-toppers. He also discusses his songwriting process, and Nashville’s increasing genre-bending musical collaborations.
BC: Congratulations on your latest Triple Play award. What a great year you had in 2019.
Jesse Frasure: It was a crazy year, man! My wife (Stevie) went through breast cancer, so we definitely had our shares of extreme highs and extreme lows. Thank God for all the blessings. He’s helped us through it all.
Here’s the video of Thomas Rhett’s hit “Remember You Young,”
which was co-written by Jesse Frasure.
BC: What was the story behind your hit with Michael Ray, “One That Got Away”?
Frasure: “One That Got Away” was written with my buddy, Josh (Osborne) and a couple of the guys (Matthew Ramsey and Trevor Rosen) from Old Dominion. I think at the time, we were [working on songs] for Old Dominion. It was probably a little progressive for their sound at the time when we actually wrote it, because we wrote it several years back…it kind of sat there. It was one of those songs where my wife and my last publisher were pitching the hell out of it, and Buffy Cooper (of Morris Higham Management Company) who handles Michael Ray was a big champion of that song.
It is weird sometimes when you look back over a song’s journey, and you see old songs like that as they go through several hurdles. It starts to feel like it’s just a miracle that stuff gets done. For a song to not be on the top of the pile and then get reminded over and over again, and then becomes something that kind of raises its hand on its own, and then go through all the trials and tribulations at radio. [The journey of this song] really is shocking to me still 18 years later doing this, and it never ceases to amaze me.
BC: You also had a #1 hit with “One Thing Right” (Marshmello & Kane Brown).
Frasure: I did that at a Kane Brown (writing) camp. We were at (music exec) Jim Catino’s house from Sony. He hosted us at his lake house. Myself, Matt McGinn, Josh Hoge, and Kane wrote that. It was kind of a cool little stripped-down thing, and again fairly R&B leaning, so maybe a little progressive for what Kane was doing at the time. It was just a personal song to him. That’s another great example of things that find their way. The EDM community and the pop world are often looking for hooks and top lines, and that was the perfect storm of Marshmello having an extremely big year to where he’s created like a cartoon character in a very positive way, to a point where my young 5-year-old nephew has a backpack of his and wears his clothes and probably doesn’t even know much of his music, but says he’s his favorite DJ because of the way it looks. He’s this branding genius. So, it’s a cool idea to see that collaboration happen.
Here’s the video of Michael Ray’s hit “One That Got Away,”
which was co-written by Jesse Frasure.
I feel like the stigma of Nashville has really lowered as far as pop collaborations. When I first moved to town, you’d see a couple of people that were maybe out of their prime collaborating with country, but in the last two years you’re seeing really successful, top-level pop acts collaborating with our musicians and our artists. It’s a really cool time to be in town with all the genre bending and collaborations. I’m really proud of that one, because that’s a song that’s really ended up on all kinds of playlists all over the world, and took a country voice (Kane Brown) into probably territories that wouldn’t have normally happened with just regular radio. Pretty cool to see that happen.
BC: Why do you think we’re seeing that change?
Frasure: My personal opinion on music in general is that fans don’t care about genre. I don’t think a music listener is consciously thinking about it. They may go, “Hey, we’re going to a country concert this weekend…let’s suit up in our boots and jeans.” A typical listener—if they’re working out or they’re at a boat or they’re by the pool—they’re not thinking about “Oh, this is that genre, this is that genre”…they just like certain music. They may listen to Thomas Rhett or Sam Hunt and listen to Post Malone and Drake in the same afternoon, and there’s not a big shift in their mind. That’s just something our industry is dealing with because of formats, and obviously radio is a huge part of country music. But I do think the normal listener is not conscious of it. As we get into more of this global audience because of streaming, because of awareness, because of the town of Nashville itself becoming a safe haven for creators of all genres, you’re going to see more of that. We’re very thankful for pioneers like Florida Georgia Line [and other artists] who have bridged that gap a little and have had success. The bottom line is some of it’s capitalism and commerce. Justin Bieber is #1 now with Dan + Shay (“10,000 Hours”). As you see success happen, others are going to follow that.
BC: You wrote another #1 hit for Thomas Rhett, “Remember You Young.” How did that song come about?
Here’s the video of Marshmello & Kane Brown’s hit “One Thing
Right,” which was co-written by Jesse Frasure.
Frasure: That was written on the back of a bus. That’s another old song. Thomas had just begun his Life Changes tour when we wrote that song. Obviously, he was going through all kinds of changes in life (kids, etc.). It stemmed from that idea of watching things change around you and our memory of everything is kind of frozen in time. We wanted to keep it nostalgic, but in a way that felt like it was still a bar song that you could raise your glass or lighter too and sway back and forth.
I write with (hit songwriter) Ashley Gorley and Thomas quite a bit. They’re two of my favorite co-writers. That was one of those songs that even before it was a single, Thomas was playing it at his live show. Whenever you can play a ballad and people pull out their lighters without being asked or their phones and light it up, that’s a good little sign. We knew it would be a special song.
BC: How does the songwriting process work for you?
Frasure: It varies every day. For example, today we chased something down until one o’clock, and then we put a pin in it and felt like we needed to jump off of it. Luckily, we got onto something else we got really excited about. If we had of labored over the first thing longer, it might have burnt us out, and we would have stopped.
There’s really no method to the madness. I think some people either claim they know or maybe they actually do. I don’t. We have a lot of ideas that come from conversations in real life, things we’ve experienced, we have musical ideas that we get excited about, and sometimes you’re sort of painting that picture for the artist. The artist will say, “I need a show opener or I’m really going through this situation; I’d like to talk about this.” Our job is to help that artist get their show to the next level, or finish out their album or fill that missing piece of a single. If it’s just us with the songwriters, it’s very free. It’s just sort of exposed space. Every day is completely different.
Here’s the video of Thomas Rhett’s hit “Life Changes,” which was
co-written by Jesse Frasure.
I used to think if it feels laborious, it’s not right; we need to get off it. Then, there are times I’ve labored over things for multiple sessions, and you finally crack the code. I’ve never claimed to be a very prolific songwriter. I love what we do, and I have a love of music. So, when we like something in the room, then I trust that and float it out there. We write 200-250 songs a year. Our track record of success—we’re like wow, you’ve had a great year. It’s weird because you feel like you failed more than you scored. In the grand scheme of life that is a good batting average. I think people don’t get a glimpse at the hard days. We’re talking about three moments in 230 plus songs.
I think I’m most proud to do this for a living. Every day is like a new challenge, and you hope and pray that you come up with something and you trust that I kind of like this; maybe the world will.
BC: Thank you Jesse for doing this interview. What’s coming up next for you?
Frasure: Florida-Georgia Line’s single “Blessings” is out. I’m [co-wrote] that. [New singles] by LoCash called “One Big Country Song” and Little Big Town “Over Drinking.” I think it’s confirmed that we have the next Old Dominion single called “Some People Do.” It’s pretty exciting. Then, we start with Thomas Rhett in May and just writing away.
Bill Conger is a freelance writer for various publications including Bluegrass Unlimited, ParentLife, Homecoming, and Singing News and is currently writing a biography on The Osborne Brothers with Bobby Osborne. He can be reached at [email protected].