Spotlight: David Stewart, 10 years on

"I decided that I wanted to be a songwriter and producer rather than an artist"

Copyright: David Stewart. Credit: Ed Cooke

10 years is a long time in this day and age… Back in 2013 (the year Stagedoor FM launched), the music scene was in a truly-exciting place. The UK had just come off the back of a hugely-successful Olympics in London; The Rolling Stones were about to make their debut headlining Glastonbury… and global politics was – well – let’s just leave it there on that topic.

With Stagedoor FM now celebrating its first decade in existence, we thought we’d take a little look back at 2013 itself. The year started off massively-exciting – Sam Smith had just kicked off what was to be one heck of a major career; Justin Timberlake announced his return to the music scene (‘Suit & Tie’, followed by his successful double-album – ‘The 20/20 Experience), and delving further into the summer, we saw Daft Punk’s ‘Random Access Memories’ (with lead single ‘Get Lucky’) rule airwaves and charts. The year also closed with Beyonce’s surprise self-titled album – a complete ‘hush-hush’ project that sent her fanbase – and the popworld – into a spin overnight.

It was toward the tail-end of 2013 that we also started to delve into the talent that was to come, launching the first in our Ones To Watch series. The first foray – aptly titled 2014 Ones To Watch – saw the aforementioned Sam Smith make their debut appearance, alongside the likes of Disclosure-collaborator Sasha Keable, house producer Ben Pearce, acoustic singer/songwriter Alison Levi, and the focus of this article – David Stewart – who we’ve reconnected with to see what he’s been up to the past decade.

2013 was a game-changing year for David too – off the back of his ‘Late Night Viewing’ EP (which featured the likes of Ed Sheeran, Example and Wretch 32), Stewart caught the eye of Ludacris’ imprint Disturbing Tha Peace, a tie-up which saw him spend 3 years in Atlanta to hone his craft. It was there that he sought a shift in direction – “I decided that I wanted to be just a songwriter and producer rather than an artist” he tells us.

However his decision to move away from being an artist isn’t without the sheer graft he placed in his career pre-‘Late Night Viewing’. Working with Example for almost six years prior to his own endeavours, David is enthusiastic about the exposure to the industry he gained at that time – “..with [Example], I learned the full span of an artist career from the bottom to the top” he tells us – “I started with [Example] playing to 50 people and ended headlining arenas… I did 3 album cycles – it was incredible to watch and learn”

It was – however – the post-DTP signing that really saw David move to higher heights. Returning to London after his Atlanta jaunt, David went head-first into the studio, working with Tinie Tempah on his 2017 ‘Youth’ record, whilst producing ‘Hands‘ – his sister Kate’s major release featuring Yungen. These projects then fast-tracked a wealth of additional partnerships, tying up with co-collaborator Jessica Agombar and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder for the Jonas Brothers’ ‘What a Man Gotta Do’. A snowball of tracks for the likes of Hailee Steinfeld, Neyo and Griff followed soon-after.

However, we couldn’t write an article on David without bringing to light his huge production credit on BTS’ international hit, ‘Dynamite’. “This is when life changed for me” he says – “It was a single that every songwriter and producer was after and Jess and I got the gig!”. ‘Dynamite’ was the band’s first English-spoken single – “Jess and I immediately got on zoom [with Columbia Records President, Ron Perry] and worked up some ideas. We did a few but the one that instantly jumped out was ‘Dynamite’.

Hitting Number 1 in 119 countries, at the time of writing the song’s YouTube video has so far racked up over 1.6 billion views, and climbing.

Post-‘Dynamite’, endeavours continued. With a focus on driving full projects, David teamed up with UK artist Olly Murs on the star’s seventh studio album, ‘Marry Me’, a record Stewart produced and co-wrote in its entirety.

And David shows no signs of slowing down just yet. With music reigning supreme, he’s now set his eyes further afield, this time into the world of TV. First up comes an as-yet-untitled production in the US (cited as a “Hannah Montana-style scripted show”), written by Tim Pollack (The Suite Life of Zak and Cody). David’s fiancĂ© Betsy English has been added as one of the cast credits here, alongside a second show written with Ryan Tedder, James Corden and Corden’s long-term collaborator, Ben Winston. The show – also untitled – will centre around a new boyband (though at these early stages, David is only drip-feeding information about both shows, such is the confidential life in the world of TV).

Credit: Michael Shelford

Eagle-eyed TV viewers should be no stranger to aforementioned Betsy, with the British singer/actress having spent a fair few years in front of the camera. Recently starring in the 2016 reboot of ‘The Tracey Ullman Show’ (alongside Emily Atack and Kevin Bishop, among others) plus Hulu’s ‘Four Weddings’, Betsy will soon appear as lead character Cindy in Sky Monster, a project led by famed B-movie director Rhys Frake-Waterfield. She’ll also play another lead in an as-yet-untitled big budget US comedy/horror shooting this fall.

And what’s next for what seems to be a more-than-illustrious career for David Stewart? Well music still drives his heart. Whilst working on Murs’ ‘Marry Me’, he also took the role as an exec producer for new NYC-based band, The Scarlet Opera who Stewart firmly believes “will be the world’s next stadium band”. “I have produced and written all of their music to date and remain as their sole collaborator” he excitedly tells us.

And The Scarlet Opera are just a tip of a large iceberg – if he wasn’t busy enough, he’s also recently started his own imprint – 8 World, which has already signed Hana Effron, and 17 year-old Keilah (the latter who will also appear on one of David’s TV endeavours).

You can be sure there’s far more to come from David in the not-too-distant future – you can follow his movements on Instagram and Twitter. Meanwhile The Scarlet Opera’s ‘Comedy’ EP is out now – listen below.