An Interview With DJ/Producer/Songwriter Extraordinaire ALEX NAHAI!
Posted On 11 Aug 2016
Alex Nahai is the founder and CEO of Alex Nahai Enterprises, a company specializing in a wide range of entertainment related services including: business development for entertainment companies; consulting; talent/artist management and representation; songwriting/production/A&R services; entertainment law services; and content creation and distribution.
Nahai is the Executive Vice President of A&R and Business Affairs of After Hours Music (a division of Capitol Music Group) and provides business development services to major corporations such as: Bento Box Entertainment and Drai’s Management Group.
Prior to this, Nahai was a high ranking music business affairs executive at William Morris Endeavor. In addition, over the course of his career, he has enjoyed major successes as a songwriter/producer and has worked for and with companies such as Interscope Records, Atlantic Records, Artist Publishing Group, and United Talent Agency.
Nahai earned his law degree from the University of Southern California in 2013.
Learn more about Alex in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time, Alex! So what were some of your 2015 highlights and what are you most looking forward to in 2016?
2015 WAS REALLY AN AMAZING YEAR FOR ME PROFESSIONALLY. IF A PERSON HAD TOLD ME AT THE BEGINNING OF 2015 THAT I WOULD END UP WORKING IN A MEANINGFUL WAY WITH CAPITOL MUSIC GROUP, WME, BENTO BOX, AND DRAI’S IN THE COURSE IN THE COURSE OF ONE YEAR, I NEVER WOULD HAVE BELIEVED IT.
I’VE MET AND HAVE HAD THE PRIVILEGE OF WORKING WITH SO MANY INCREDIBLE EXECUTIVES, MANAGERS, LAWYERS, SONGWRITERS, AND MUSICIANS ALONG THE WAY. I JUST FEEL EXTREMELY GRATEFUL, BECAUSE I KNOW HOW HARD IT IS FOR PEOPLE TO BREAK INTO AND SUCCEED IN THIS INDUSTRY.
What does a typical day look like for you lately?
TO BE HONEST, THERE REALLY IS NO SUCH THING AS A TYPICAL DAY FOR ME ANYMORE.
ONE DAY I MIGHT BE IN THE STUDIO ALL DAY WRITING FOR A PARTICULAR ARTIST, THE NEXT DAY I COULD BE MEETING WITH DIFFERENT MANAGERS FOR ARTISTS I AM INTERESTED IN POTENTIALLY WORKING WITH, AND THE DAY AFTER THAT I MIGHT BE WORKING ON PRODUCING TELEVISION SHOWS OR OTHER CONTENT. ON MOST DAYS I DO A COMBINATION OF THESE AND OTHER TASKS. EVERY DAY IS DIFFERENT.
Growing up, did you always want to work in the music industry? Can you talk about how your experience playing music in bands and being a songwriter has affected you on the business side of things?
I HAVE WANTED TO WORK IN THE MUSIC BUSINESS SINCE I FIRST HEARD “COMFORTABLY NUMB” AT THE AGE OF FIVE. IT JUST DID SOMETHING TO ME, AND EVER SINCE THEN I HAVE BEEN OBSESSED WITH MUSIC. APPARENTLY, WHEN I WAS A BABY, MY FATHER WOULD PLAY ME A DIFFERENT GENRE OF MUSIC EVERY NIGHT–SO I GUESS IT ALL MAKES SENSE.
BEING A SONGWRITER AND HAVING BEEN A RECORDING ARTIST HAS HELPED MY PROGRESSION ON THE BUSINESS SIDE IMMENSELY–I CANNOT EMPHASIZE IT ENOUGH. WHEN A PERSON CAN SIT DOWN WITH AN ARTIST AND ACTUALLY SPEAK THE SAME LANGUAGE, IT BREAKS DOWN SO MANY BARRIERS–BOTH ARTISTICALLY AND EMOTIONALLY–AND THE PROCESS BECOMES THAT MUCH MORE EFFICIENT.
I NEVER WANT TO BE THE TYPE OF EXECUTIVE OR PRODUCER WHO SAYS “I DON’T HEAR A HIT; GO BACK AND TRY IT AGAIN.” I AM A LOT MORE INTERESTED IN SITTING DOWN WITH THE ARTISTS AND SONGWRITERS I WORK WITH AND ISOLATING THE PARTS OF A SONG THAT WORK AND BUILDING UPON THOSE UNTIL WE CAN TRY AND CREATE WHAT FEELS MORE LIKE A “HIT.”
What kind of music does After Hours Music cater to specifically?
AFTER HOURS REALLY IS GENRE-LESS; WHEN IT WAS DREAMED UP A FEW YEARS AGO AS A NEW VENTURE WITH CAPITOL MUSIC GROUP, THE FOCUS AT THAT TIME WAS TO CREATE A MORE EFFICIENT PLATFORM FOR BREAKING ELECTRONIC DANCE MUSIC (EDM) ACTS. HOWEVER, SINCE THEN, THE INDUSTRY HAS CHANGED, AS HAVE THE STRUCTURE AND STRATEGIC PARTNERS OF AFTER HOURS. NOW, INSTEAD OF FOCUSING ON ANY ONE GENRE OF MUSIC, THE VENTURE IS COMMITTED TO DEVELOPING AND BREAKING ACTS THAT HAVE REAL STAR POTENTIAL.
TO THAT END, AFTER HOURS STRIVES TO WORK WITH ARTISTS THAT IT CAN OFFER RECORDING CONTRACTS, LIVE PERFORMANCE DEALS, AND ENDORSEMENT AND SPONSORSHIP DEALS TO ALL UNDER ONE UMBRELLA. THIS MAKES THE SELECTION PROCESS INSANELY DIFFICULT BECAUSE FINDING AN ARTIST WHO IS UNIQUELY POSITIONED ENOUGH TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF AND MAXIMIZE SOME OR ALL OF THE RESOURCES WE OFFER IS LIKE FINDING A NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK. BUT AT THE END OF THE DAY, THERE IS SOMETHING THRILLING ABOUT SETTING OUT TO FIND THE NEXT BIG STAR AND HAVING THE RESOURCES TO BREAK HIM OR HER.
You and your writing partners, Courtney Fortune and Morgan Brown have worked with some of music’s most successful artists, producers and songwriters. Can you talk about some of your favorite working relationships with these people?
COURTNEY, MORGAN, AND I HAVE BEEN LUCKY ENOUGH TO WORK AS SONGWRITERS WITH MAJOR RECORD LABELS AND PUBLISHERS. THROUGH THAT, WE’VE DEVELOPED A LOT OF WORKING RELATIONSHIPS THAT WE HOLD NEAR TO OUR HEARTS.
I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS 17, I WAS PLAYING IN A BAND CALLED “THE UPSIDE” AND DAVID FOSTER PRODUCED OUR FIRST EP; THAT WAS INSANE. BUT OVER THE YEARS, THE THREE OF US HAVE WORKED WITH A SUPER DIVERSE GROUP OF PEOPLE. TO NAME A FEW: SCOTT STORCH (CHRIS BROWN, BEYONCE), CHRIS WALDEN (MICHAEL BUBLE, JENNIFER HUDSON), SOULSHOCK(USHER, 2PAC, BACKSTREET BOYS), NICO & VINZ, ANDREAS CARLSSON, L2M, EMBLEM3, STIX (IGGY AZALEA, BISHOP NEHRU), ZHU, RYAN MCMAHON (WALK THE MOON), J.P. NEGRETE (FLO RIDA, B.O.B.), DAVID BENOIT, CARMEN GRILLO (CHICAGO, TOWER OF POWER),PATRICE RUSHEN, ETC.]
Who are some of your favorite musicians?
OH WOW, I AM NOT SURE IF THIS INTERVIEW IS LONG ENOUGH TO ADEQUATELY ANSWER THIS QUESTION! (Laughter) I THINK THE BEST WAY TO ANSWER THIS IS TO SAY THAT THE LEGENDS — BEATLES, FLOYD, BIGGIE, BOWIE, STONES, MICHAEL JACKSON, EMMYLOU, BOB DYLAN, JONI MITCHELL, MUDDY WATERS, ETC. — ARE LEGENDS FOR A REASON. I REALLY FEEL LIKE MY LIFE HAS BEEN SHAPED AND INFLUENCED BY ALL OF THE ARTISTS I JUST MENTIONED, AND BY SO MANY OTHERS.
Are there newcomers that our readers should really pay attention to now?
DEFINITELY. I WOULD BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR PEOPLE LIKE DJ ESCO, FLETCHER, LEMON, STEVE JAMES, CATEY SHAW, JO$EPH, DUA LIPA, KIIARA, ANDIE CASE, GNASH, KANE BROWN, SARA HARTMAN, ETC. THERE’S A LOT OF TALENT OUT THERE RIGHT NOW…
Can you talk about the new opportunities you are about to embark on?
ABSOLUTELY–I’M VERY EXCITED ABOUT THE FACT THAT MY PARTNERS AND I HAVE JUST OPENED UP A STUDIO AND ARE FOCUSING A TON OF OUR ENERGIES ON WRITING AND MAKING RECORDS AT THE MOMENT–NOT ONLY FOR PLACEMENT, BUT ALSO FOR SPECIFIC ARTISTS. ONE THING I HAVE FOUND ABOUT THE BUSINESS THAT IS FRUSTRATING IS THAT ALL EXECUTIVES, MYSELF INCLUDED, HAVE BECOME MORE RISK AVERSE BECAUSE MONEY ITS NOT THE 80s ANYMORE. SO I THOUGHT: WHY DON’T I ELIMINATE SOME OF THAT RISK BY BRINGING ARTISTS I BELIEVE IN TO THE STUDIO AND ACTUALLY EITHER WRITING/PRODUCING WITH THEM, OR OFFERING GUIDANCE ON THEIR TRACKS IN A CREATIVE, MEANINGFUL WAY, SO THAT WHEN IT DOES COME TIME TO PRESENT THEIR PROJECTS TO A LABEL, THEY ARE THAT MUCH MORE PREPARED.
I’M ALSO REALLY THRILLED TO HAVE STARTED MY NEW BUSINESS, ALEX NAHAI ENTERPRISES, WHICH WILL FOCUS MAINLY ON BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT CONSULTING FOR MAJOR ENTERTAINMENT COMPANIES–BRINGING IN BUSINESS FROM THE OUTSIDE, AND TIGHTENING UP THINGS ON THE INSIDE AS WELL. WE HAVE TWO MAJOR CLIENTS ON RETAINER RIGHT NOW, AND ARE HOPING TO CONTINUE TO BUILD AND SCALE, WHILE GIVING EACH CLIENT THE TIME AND ATTENTION IT DESERVES.