After the success of her 2001 album, Leah, bolstered by her Top 10 single, We Think It's Love, Australian record producer, songwriter and singer Leah Haywood moved to L.A in 2002 with dreams of breaking America. Fast forward to the present day and she’s instead made a name for herself as a hitmaker for artists including Demi Lovato, Selena Gomez, Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber and Blackpink. She shares her “rags to riches” story…
“I always had planned to be an artist, and although I haven’t stopped doing that, I did fall into writing for other people,” shares Haywood from her home in L.A.
“When I moved to America, it sort of fell into my lap. I did move here originally to keep pursuing the artist thing because there were a lot of labels that were interested in signing me, so that was the path I saw for myself. Then things took a turn, and I just let it happen. For the next 15 years, I ended up writing for other people.”
Born in New Zealand, Haywood grew up in Perth, Australia, and as well as breaking into the charts at home, she was invited by Max Martin to record backing vocals for Celine Dion’s 1999 hit That's the Way It Is while working on her album in Sweden – “Right place, right time,” she grins.
The move to the States was a risk; Haywood and her then-husband (and still professional partner) Daniel James started up Dreamlab, a production and songwriting company, and times were tough – they sold demos on Craigslist just to make ends meet.
“We did whatever it takes,” she recalls, “because there was never a plan B. I knew that music was my path in life, so I'm like, ‘Okay, you're gonna have to hustle and grind to make ends meet while you're waiting for opportunities.’ In life, the minute you have that approach – great things happen.
"You’ve got to be like, ‘I'm willing to do whatever it takes; I gotta get in there and get my hands dirty,’ – you're not being a diva about it. I started doing Craigslist demos for 250 bucks a pop.”