Please introduce yourself. What do you do? Why? What do you want people to know about you?
My name is Markus Shields and I am a choreographer turned songwriter/producer. I’ve more recently found that my creative addiction is not only dance but storytelling. Throughout my career as a choreographer I have always been a sort of closeted poet but now putting words to music that is a lot of times produced by myself is a new and exciting journey that I’m grateful to be on. I basically still dance but with lyrics and melody instead of with my body. But I still be dance though 😉
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I think the thing that differentiates me from other songwriters is my ability to explore. Being my own producer sometimes helps and I remember a moment that changed the way I viewed my own ability.
While producing a track I started to hear a duet between a male and female instead of only the male perspective which is all I’d solely explored at the time. In that moment, writing from two pairs of eyes while adding more and more instruments and samples I realized a flow state I’d never before achieved. From there a vowed to continue to open up, to lend my lens to any situation that came to mind or became necessary and since, I’ve been striving to write from all facets of the human experience.
Also, the fact that I have written songs in almost so many genres R&B, Pop, Rock, Rap, House, Show tunes, you name it. I have dreams about songs and those dreams aren’t just me waking up with words in my head. They’re full blown productions with visuals and purpose. I even had a dream about a juke joint musical; spent about two hours writing the song; was late to a meeting and all. But I’d have hated if I didn’t remember the melody and feel. Ode to the Quintet is ready Lin-Manuel Miranda!
Describe THAT moment when you realized you’re doing what you were born to do.
The moment I knew I was born to do this was more of a week of constant realizations. All my life I can remember songs, hooks, melodies just coming to me. A lot of us do that. Making a song about what’s happening or what we’re doing at the time. But, as I said, not everyone wakes up dreaming in song.
So during the pandemic, when I was first tapping into this talent I was traveling home and this line got stuck in my head. “You feel like home to me.” After a few first class cocktails and writing a poem for a friend who’d just lost his dog (a pet we’d both owned since he was a puppy) I found myself a bit emotional. There was the line again but this time it came with a melody. Boom! I start writing. While writing the song I picture hundreds, maybe thousand of couples getting married, their proposals, their receptions. Black couples, white couples, mixed, gay, straight, all colors and preferences. After a little over an hour I had written an interlude, a song with two verses, a hook, a bridge, a key change and an outro. Rereading it I could hear the entire song, produced, mixed and mastered in my head. But how was I supposed to get this done? I’d just started writing songs and had barely any producing skill. Within that week, God or the Universe or the Spirit or all three of them got together to send me everyone I needed to complete the song. It wasn’t only their arrival though, I had to direct these talented and extremely experienced individuals toward the finish line and in the end T hey all felt I rose to the occasion. From my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI back to LA I flew with a fully produced wedding song and I knew for a fact that I was living my in my purpose. It felt and still feels amazing.
What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve had to go through and how did you grow through it?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to face is the transition from being a successful choreographer/dancer to a beginning songwriter. Especially when my former career is funding the music. I have had some difficult choices to make as far as turning down jobs and gigs for studio sessions with certain singers, engineers and other producers. Literally turning down hundreds and thousands of dollars just to spend the same amount in order to keep the creative momentum going. Denying making money in order to spend money. It’s tough to begin again when everything I built in my dance career was out of faith in my ability anyway. To in turn, transfer the same faith into another creative field a decade and a half later has been a battle. A battle I’m fighting because I know it’s an investment that will payoff tenfold as long as I continue to work and believe in myself. And I said that for me! I say it everyday! I am manifesting it!
Also, it’s a different world, different people, different tactics. People in the music industry don’t connect in the same way dancers would. So finding and keeping my team tight has been a challenge but I’ve got some amazing people around me and I am grateful for them.
Who are the TOP 3 people you’d want to meet that could elevate your career or business? Why these specific individuals?
Usher: As aforementioned, I dream of songs and I literally woke up one day spelling U S H E R out in hook form… so obviously I made the song, and made a whole pitch for him. I have a link ready for whenever the opportunity comes.
Dianne Warren: I feel like she could give me insight on how she’s done it for so many artists. She’s worked in so many different genres and with so many amazing artists that I feel a conversation with her would be career enhancing for sure. Also, I bet she could connect me with the right people to get my name out as songwriter in the industry. It’s all about connections.
Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis: I feel like those two have worked on so many projects of different genres they could easily produce around the songs I have written. I’ve penned over 70 songs and some of them I just don’t have the ability to produce to yet. I only started working on music in 2020 and though everyone tells me I’ve come very far in a short amount of time I know I have a long way to go. Plus as I found in my dancing days, you can and should always be a student. Nonetheless, I feel they’d be able to add music to the many words I’ve written.
If I have to leave it at 3 I feel that’s a well rounded list but honorable mention would be Beyoncé, I wrote a song with her voice in my head, CB, I have a nice amount of bangers for him, Timbaland because just his drums alone are mind blowing, and a Capitol Records or Sony Music exec would definitely be a blessing to meet, they’d know just where to put me. Plus, I feel I have something to offer these people as well.
Drop your social media links.
Facebook: http://facebook/Markus Shields