Tre Jean-Marie talks Concord deal and making it as a songwriter

Tre Jean-Marie, producer and songwriter for the likes of Mabel, Anne-Marie and Craig David, has spoken to Headliner about his new publishing deal with Concord Music Publishing, his career to date and what it takes to succeed as a songwriter in today’s music industry.

Among the British hitmaker’s recent successes is Mabel’s latest album About Last Night…, which debuted at No.2 on the UK Albums Chart and saw Jean-Marie co-write and/or produce six songs on. He has also notched up over one million singles sales with Nathan Dawe, having co-wrote, produced and mixed the Top 5 hit Lighter ft. KSI, while last year saw him make key contributions to Anne-Marie’s album Therapy.

Recently, he has also worked with Galantis, Becky Hill, Meduza, David Guetta, Sam Ryder, Zara Larsson, Mimi Webb & Marshmello.

Harri Davies, senior A&R director at Concord Music Publishing, commented: “Given how undeniably talented Tre is, he is one of the humblest songwriters and producers you will ever meet.

It’s why artists and peers alike love working with him. He is an absolute workhorse and remains one of the hottest talents in the country right now. We are absolutely delighted to have him join the family and look forward to working alongside Karma to help shape the next phase of his career”.

Here, Jean-Marie sits down for a chat with Headliner to discuss the reasons behind his decision to sign with Concord, his biggest achievements so far, and what the next generation of songwriters and producers can do to succeed…

What made you decide on Concord for your new publishing deal?

I was in my previous deal for eight years, and over that stretch of time, music went from being a hobby to a career. A lot of important things happened, but I thought now was the time to bring in some fresh energy, new ideas and a new team. It just felt like the right time. We naturally looked around, but I really like the team there and it felt like a natural fit. I’m so excited to be working with them.

Tell us about your path into songwriting and producing?

Both my parents are musicians. My dad toured with George Michael and has done things like Strictly Come Dancing, and my mum owns a music school in North London and she plays multiple instruments, so I’ve always been around music. And because I’ve always been around it, it was always something I wanted to do. I went to a grammar school and I remember when I was 16 on results day they said, ‘congratulations, you have got into sixth form’, and I just turned it down straight away because I knew what I wanted to do. I then moved into my nan’s house in London - a box room - but it was free rent and it was enough for me to do the grind. That was the first landmark for me, when I knew it was something I had to take seriously. I had no other commitments, I just had to put my all into it.

It wasn’t until 2016 when I was 22 that it turned into a career for me. I had the opportunity to produce the majority of Craig David’s comeback album Following My Intuition. Before then, you’re trying to knock down doors and get anybody to listen, but I produced eight songs on that album and it went to No.1. That was when I think people started taking me seriously, and a lot of opportunities started to open up.

What was it like to work on that album, and how closely did you collaborate with Craig David?

By complete coincidence, in 2001 my dad was one of the backing vocalists on his tours and they had quite a good relationship. And it was only after I started emailing Craig the songs that we’d done that he saw my last name and went, ‘wait a minute?!’. I remember being eight or nine and going to Craig David concerts, so it felt like things had come full circle. Also, he is the nicest, most humble person I’ve ever met. And he’s a bit of a legend; he’s a British icon. We really clicked, which was nice, and I learned a lot from him, and from an age perspective, I think I taught him a lot of stuff as well. He really wanted to work with younger talent.

Do you have a particular approach to how your work, or does it always change depending on who you’re working with?

It’s completely varied, and the more you work with people, the more you learn. It’s not about me, it’s all about the artist, so you have to shapeshift around them and find out how they like to work; how are you going to make them sound the best they can on record?. How are you going to help them tell their story? It’s about helping them be the best version of themselves. Sometime artists want you to be more involved, while ithers have everything pretty mapped out so you take a bit more of a backseat.

Do different artists have different expectations of what you will bring as a producer? The label can mean so many different things to people.

It does vary. When you work with rappers, it’s usually that you make the beat and let them do their thing as far are lyrics are concerned, and then you piece it all together. When you work with singer songwriters it’s a lot more collaborative. It really depends on what act you are working with

You recently worked on Mabel’s latest record. What was that experience like?

I started working with Mabel in 2017, and I did one or two things on her earlier mixtapes and a song on her debut album, but we’d never made a complete body of work together. In the first lockdown, she reached out and said she wanted to do some stuff with me and MNEK, who is probably my closest friend in the industry. And it was lockdown, so it was really tough. We had tried Zoom and it wasn’t really working, and we couldn’t meet up, so me and MNEK started sending her ideas and going forward that way. And whenever the restrictions were lifted, we would try to do writing camps. It would be us and a few other collaborators going to a studio and trying to make as much music as we could in the time we had. In that period, where usually artists work with lots of different writers and producers, this was just a small group of people and we became really close, and the closer we became the better the record became. It was one of my favourite projects I’ve ever worked on. It felt like a little family making an album together.

What have been some of your other personal highlights so far?

During lockdown, I got a call from a friend of mine to work with a DJ called Nathan Dawe, who I had never heard of, and I’d never done house music, so it was a bit of a random call! But I had no sessions, so I thought I’d give it a shot. I then came across an old ballad I’d written with Ella Henderson, and I thought, ‘this could be cool sped up’. I spent an hour on it and sent it off, then things happened very quickly. Straight away they loved it, commissioned it and got KSI on it. It became Lighter, which has sold over a million units now and has been my biggest success yet. That took things to another level again. It was the first time I’d experienced having a Top 3 single and it was nominated for Best British Single at the BRITs. That’s been an amazing partnership.

The other project I would say I loved doing was Anne-Marie. I’m a massive fan and I just love pop music. And it felt like an opportunity to prove I can deliver on a pop project.

What’s next?

We’re starting he process with Mabel again very soon and I’m working with the Little Mix girls on their solo projects.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming songwriters?

Make your own team. Don’t chase the hot songwriters of today because they have all been doing this for 10 years-plus and the people they are working with are all people they came up with. You work with your own team and you will be the A listers of tomorrow.