Colby O’Donis Interview - Grammy Nominee Makes Strides

He’s more than just a new kid on the block. Singer, songwriter and producer Colby O’Donis is now a Grammy nominated artist. After only three months of releasing his self-entitled album “ColbyO,” Akon’s protégé is taking center stage.

While some may consider him a new found success, O’Donis’ journey started at the age of nine. The Queens native moved to Florida at a young age and began working with platinum recording producers Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam and soon thereafter opened local Florida shows for Backstreet Boys, 98° and Brian McKnight. By the age of 15 O’Donis was in Los Angeles recording with the legendary Michael Jackson, which led to the creation of “Your Life in My Life.”

But O’Donis life had more in store. After already releasing six independent albums the young artist crossed paths with music artist/producer Akon. Following a career-altering meeting O’Donis accepted Akon’s guidance and signed with his label Konvict Muzic, an imprint of Interscope. Early this year O’Donis released his first single “What You Got” placing him on the top of the charts and permanently on the map.

The collection of songs in the album is “beyond definition—we are doing whatever is hot,” said Akon. “Colby is my secret weapon.”

Excited for 2009 O’Donis took a brief moment to share with us his upcoming projects and answer a few peering questions.

How does it feel to be a Grammy nominee?

It feels good. I’ve been working for a long time to get to this point and I’m really excited to be where I am now—this is only the beginning.

Where were you when you heard the news of your nomination? How did you celebrate?
I was in my studio working on some music and I got a text telling me I was nominated.  I celebrated with my family over dinner it was just something simple. I’m a simple guy.

Tell us about your relationship with Lady Gaga. How was it working with her?

Lady Gaga is a great person and a cool person to hangout with. I met her about a year ago and the collaboration just happened and [“Just Dance”] came out really well.  She’s definitely a great person to be affiliated with, for sure.

O'Donis collaboration with newly found pop diva Lady Gaga garnered both a Best Dance Recording Grammy nomination for the single “Just Dance,” off Lady Gaga’s debut album “The Fame.” Among those nominated in the same category are Madonna for “Give it 2 Me,” and Rihanna for “Disturbia”

What other artists are you collaborating with?

All different types of artists, of course Akon and Lady Gaga, I’m also working with Sean Kingston, Ray J and Frankie J.

You’re considered Akon’s secret weapon? Many have said it-heard it-and agreed. What makes you such a powerful weapon?

I don’t know. [Laughs] I love music and I love what I do. I put as much effort as I can into it and I take things seriously. I’m here to make great music.

Akon’s new single “Beautiful,” featuring O’Donis made it to No. 7 on the Billboard Pop 100

What’s in store for 2009?

There are a lot of projects in store for next year, of course getting ready for the Grammy’s. I hired a trainer to get in shape. I am releasing another single entitled “Sophisticated Bad Girl,” it’s a fun, up-beat, Euro club sound, it’s definitely going to be a top track. The song is about a bad girl who is really sophisticated—two worlds in one.

What’s your New Years resolution?

Being able to keep making great music and just do what I do while enjoying it.

Tell us about your family? Do they help keep you grounded?

Yes, I am really close with family. My sister has helped me all along my career.  She would give me $100 out of her pay check every week for seven years to help me with dance and piano lessons. My mom and dad also sacrificed a lot. We are all in this together as a family and I’m happy it has worked out.

Holidays are here! Where were you for Christmas and where will you be for NYE?

[I was] at home with my family on Christmas. [It's] exciting to spend some time with them. My mom cooks a lot for the Holidays, so it’s definitely hard not to gain a few pounds. I am training but I know ill probably gain some weight because of the Holiday season.

I have a show on NYE [at Cantina Lounge in Fullerton].  For more information check out Colby’s myspace page:

Now, you’re Puerto Rican. I saw you on MTV Tr3s.  Any plans to record an album or song(s) in Spanish?

Well, I recorded “What You Got” in Spanish.  I would like to work on a Spanish project, eventually. It would be cool to record something with Frankie J. He is a really cool guy.


Behind the scenes of O'Donis' video "What You Got"

Your only 19 years old, but your journey has been long—tell us what triggered the thought—I want to be a music artist?

It all started at a very young age. I was nine years old. I signed with Motown Records when I was 10 to sing on a movie sound track from there it was all about a lot of moving and action. Before my deal with Akon and Interscope Records I had six independent albums that I worked on my own. It took a lot of hustle and work to get to the point of where I am now. But at nine is when I took things full force. It was definitely a calling.

How did you get discovered by Akon?

I met Akon about four years ago. I got in the studio with him and played him my demo and it just happened from there. He fell in love with the demo and from there we had more meetings and got in the studio a dozen of times and the next thing you know we are signing a deal with Interscope and his label.

I understand that you wrote most of the songs on your album.

Yeah, I wrote 14 out of 15 songs.

Where did you find inspiration for this album?

Girls. [Laughs] Well, just life in general, past experiences and feelings I’ve gone through. It was cool that Akon gave me that much control over the album.

What types of songs will our readers find in your album?

“Natural High,” featuring T-pain—it’s a song about getting a natural high from a woman. “Sophisticated Bad Girl”—a girl that I want and I’m trying to get with, but her playful nature of being sophisticated and bad leaves me wondering what could possibly happen with her.

O'Donis and make-up artists in preparation for a photo shoot

I have another song called “Let You Go”—its about a little experience I had. I was in a relationship with a girl and she was everything I knew. I was with her for so long it was hard to let her go.

Colby, for all the ladies out there, are you single? Searching for love?

Oh, yeah. I’m single right now, but I’m a relationship type of guy. My longest relationship was for four years. [What went wrong?] I [was] really busy and had no time to really do anything. She was used to me being around all the time and ever since things started taking off I’ve been on the road and she just wasn’t used to that.

Who are your role models?

Akon is definitely at the top of my list with my father. My father has always mentored me and made me who I am today. Akon of course has made a big impact in my life musically and in general.

Do you still get butterflies when you hit the stage? Yeah. I still get them. It’s constantly different all the time. I always get the butterflies before I go on stage, but once I’m on stage it totally changes the environment for me

What do you do during your down time?

I like to go to the movies. Spend time with my family.

Is it difficult to maintain friendships right now?

Yeah. I mean I have a few friends. I keep my circle very tight. I don’t have a lot of friends. I have a lot of acquaintances, a ton of them, but not a lot of friends.

Have you thought of having your on reality TV show?

No. Never. Me and my family are nuts and I just don’t want anyone to know how crazy I really am.  I just rather keep the way I am to myself. [Laughs] I am definitely a little crazy. I’ve had a lot of people and big networks offer us reality TV show deals, saying it would be the biggest reality show of all time. We turn them down all the time. Some things are better kept a secret.

Any last thoughts you would like to share with LA Splash readers?

Yeah, just check out my myspace. I find it’s the best way to keep in touch with my fans. I try to answer back all the messages and comments.


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