Jack Knight: ‘My Personal Experiences and the Experiences of Others are the Key to my Work’

Jack Knight: ‘My Personal Experiences and the Experiences of Others are the Key to my Work’

Originally published on The Industry Cosign August 13, 2015

Jack Knight AKA Starman is a comic book superhero in the DC Comics Universe and a member of the Justice Society of America. But, wait, this is a different Jack Knight! Instead of being a comic book superhero in the DC Comics Universe, he is actually a superhero when hits are needed in the industry. And instead of being a member of the Justice Society of America, he was the first songwriter signed to Sean ‘Puffy/Diddy/Puff Daddy’ Combs publishing company at the beginning of the Bad Boy Reign (Knight still records and writes hits for the likes of Diddy). So, both Jack Knights are superheroes in their own right!His credits and accomplishments in the music industry includes a bevy of hits from artists like Biggie, Faith Evans, Keyshia Cole, Jennifer Lopez, Usher, Christina Aguilera, Monifah, Lil’ Kim and so many others that another page would be needed to list. He is also a published author and with his ‘The Jack Knight Songwriting Academy’, is a successful mentor and teacher to those who wish to follow in his footsteps in this fickle industry.

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Although Mr. Knight is working on his latest project, while still penning hits for others, he found the time to speak to The Industry Cosign about his journey in the industry, his future plans and what advice he’d give to those looking for some.

As a songwriter, where do you draw your inspiration for your work? Do you have a particular process you follow when you are preparing a track?

My personal experiences and the experiences of others are the key to my work. A new love interest, a child being born, challenges, depression, things going on in the world, and of course, all my influences growing up like Bobby Womack, Marvin Gaye, prince, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel, these writers help me reach higher and dig deeper when I reflect back.

In an industry where writers and producers aren’t as universally recognized by the public as most artists they produce, do you ever feel slighted by the same audience who may know your songs but not know you as the producer/writer/creator of the song they love?

Being recognized without being recognized is the most powerful feeling a creative can have. When you walk into a club or lounge, or when you get into a cab in another country like Morocco and hear your music come on the radio, it’s like a badge of approval from the universe that you cracked the code without being known as an artist by the masses. It’s kinda hard to explain , but when people eventually do find out you wrote their favorite song, it’s amazing.

You started as an artist before honing your craft to become a successful songwriter, if you could do anything over again, what would it be and why, if you did decide to do so?

I don’t think I would have done too much different. In every moment you do the best you can with the knowledge that you have. I did my best at the time I was venturing into being an artist and that’s part of your journey, “Enjoying your process”. With the right money, timing and connections, any of us can become socially successful, I say socially because what’s perceived as success to your potential fans and the mainstream is different from being a success to your family or on your job.

When you are in the studio working with artists, do you have a different approach in how you work with the artist that is already considered a successful star and an artist who is just starting out?

The process is the same. I always give a time period to see what type of artist that I’m dealing with. Most of the time I start the session having a conversation about life, sharing stories, ideas, an exchange of emotion as the music plays or while a track is being created. Some artists are strong co-writers and other artist basically take your direction. I always perform better when it’s an artist that has experience and is multi-dimensional. They are able to add input to the lyrics of the song and vocally they are able to add color and flavor to the song. I work good when I’m on a strong team of creative minds.

You’ve also written a book, ‘The Art of Writing a Hit Song: the Urban Experience (I actually still have my copy), why did you write the book and are there plans for another one?

Yes I’m halfway through a follow-up book called “Watering Creative Seeds”, it speaks about putting yourself in a position on a daily basis to be inspired and inspire. It shows you how to use the ups and downs of life as the soil to plant your creativity. Without heartache, loss of life, and financial challenges, we wouldn’t fully enjoy Happiness, New life, and Healthy relationships when they present themselves.

As far as The Business of Hip-Hop, how does it compare today to how it was 10, even 20 years ago? Is it better? What are your thoughts on it?

I think the tools of Hip-Hop and music are much more refined then 20 years ago. With crowd funding technology, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tidal, Pandora, you’re able to build a community of fans who will come to your shows and support your music without having a major record deal in place. Creatively, the genre has evolved to the liking of some and to the disliking of others, but I think it’s our job to teach the prior generations what it takes to become great lyricists and leaders in their community.

You’ve recently worked on a project, “American Heart” featuring Matisyahu, which was posted on this site. What was the inspiration behind it and what can we expect, musically, from you, as an artist?

American Heart was partially inspired by me falling to sleep on the train and missing my stop several times on both sides of the track..lool… I was so tired after coming home from a late night studio session. At the time, my girlfriend and my youngest son had just left me and moved to California, my granddad was on his deathbed, the IRS and banks were on my back, and the kids in my neighborhood were shooting up the block every other day. All of that tension and stress led me to write American Heart. It’s about being in the midst of hell in America both physically and mentally, but still maintaining your hope and your pride. I plan to continue to release music that can make people think and possibly help transform their situation. I hope to release my album top of the year, and release a few videos in between time to get people more familiar with me being in front of the camera.

What advice and/or suggestion would you give to anyone who approaches you about how to survive in this fickle industry?

Think about what you want to do first. Thoughts are things. Write down and plan what you want to do everyday. Raise money and finances to carry out your plan. Practice and continue to perfect your craft until you reach your goals. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Don’t stop. Keep practicing and working your plan.

What is Jack Knight working on or what will Jack Knight be working on in the near future?

I think my artistic side, my entrepreneurial side, and my love for teaching will be merged together in a big way over the next few months. I plan to perform and do seminars simultaneously, at the same developing products that can help people develop creatively and financially.

On September 17th in Los Angeles, I will be attending the 10th Annual “Best of the Uncovered” series. I will not only be performing but also demonstrating a new App that will give people worldwide the ability to create and share ideas together. For new artists and songwriters, I have an Independent label and Publishing company called Gifted Kulture that I started with my partner Erick Abreu. We are already off to a good start with several of our artists and songs slated to be in major TV shows, and we just placed Diddy’s new song “Finna Get Lose” featuring Pharell in the new installment of the blockbuster Film “Ride Along 2” featuring Ice Cube and Kevin Hart.

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