If you’re unfamiliar with who Ali Tamposi is then today is your lucky day. The music powerhouse has written for all your faves and has the ultimate CV. Tamposi is one of the most successful pop songwriters in the music business who has penned hits for Cardi B, Kelly Clarkson, BTS, Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Dua Lipa, to name a few. With her knowledge and experience, she has decided to give back and launch her own Creative Waves Foundation in Belle Glade, Florida this year, which aims to help bright and underprivileged youth make it in the music industry.
Tamposi is a complete boss and spoke to us about how the foundation has been coping during the pandemic, her songwriting process, some of the artists she has been in the studio with, and a whole lot more.
Congratulations on launching your own foundation, Creative Waves Foundation, this year. How long had you had this idea to start your very own foundation? It’s been circulating for the past five years but the pandemic really gave the opportunity to focus my energy on really building it and solidifying a mission. I also think the pandemic, sort of the warrior instinct kicked in. The only thing we could really do was stay home and so yeah I felt really inspired to get it off the ground. It’s been an incredible learning process for me because not only am I developing Creative Waves, I’m also developing a free online music curriculum as well. I’ve realized that there aren’t enough creative outlets that are affordable and going to music schools is really challenging for people who don’t live in the States and can’t afford it. So with Creative Waves, we’ve been helping develop music programs for underserved areas and simultaneously I’m developing this e-curriculum which will hopefully be launched in January.
Were the online classes always in the plan or did the pandemic influence this idea? Not necessarily. With Creative Waves, my mom has been an educator for 35 years and she’s just recently retired. I had all these plans on doing something and working out projects with her and she’s just so seasoned with fundraising and has access to the areas that need the most help. I was always so inspired to do it. It would have probably taken a bit longer before because I was so busy leading up to the pandemic.
You have a Creative Waves Music Room located in The First Haitian Baptist Church. How often were kids spending time there before the pandemic? We had just started the process. It’s been properly developing for the past year. Within the last six months, it’s become what it is. It’s officially a foundation so now we can accept submissions from parents who would like to give their kids music lessons because when music programs are the first programs cut from the school system there isn’t any access to learning so we are accepting submissions and giving grants now to the children and two schools that need help with their arts programs.
Your website currently states that feeding the children has been at the forefront during the coronavirus pandemic. Is that still something you are currently focusing on? We are. The school that we were helping was doing virtual part-time so they aren’t needing as much as they were prior as the school is up and running. Now our focus has been back on fundraising for Belle Glade to help them raise $400,000 more to build the new building. So we are currently actively accepting donations for that.
The new building plan that will include includes classrooms, a dining hall, a kitchen, and The Creative Waves Music Room/Recording Studio. Is that going well? It really is. Shure microphones have donated a significant amount and also I’ve had equipment in my makeshift studio that I’m no longer using that I am also going to donate to the school. It’s coming along but anything and everything helps. It’s been a challenge to fundraise in the way we had hoped prior to the pandemic because we can’t really do any in person but we are seeing a tremendous difference.
Is there a specific plan for when you hope to get everything built and ready? We’re taking each day as it comes. I’m planning on going down to Florida in October to take a tour of the school to really see the progress first hand so I’m really looking forward to that.
Obviously you’re a very established songwriter. How did you enter that world and what made you want to pursue it as a career? Since I was 14, I always wrote my own songs but I didn’t know there was a career for songwriters professionally but on the quest for being an artist, I spent a lot of my time in the studio in Miami and I’ve had the chance to work around some of the most incredible songwriters for the majority of my life. I always felt more comfortable in the studio than I did performing so it just became a natural path and I felt there were more opportunities for me to continue to work in the studio with other producers and writers as a songwriter and that’s all I wanted to do so I naturally followed that path.
You’re a singer as well but seem to have focused more on being a songwriter. Did you ever consider releasing more of your own material? I’ve sort of gone back and forth with the idea in the past but I’m now at this stage in my life where I just want to continue songwriting and also split the time focusing on Creative Waves.
According to the internet, Beyonce was the first artist you wrote a song for. Is that true? It is true! So that song was supposed to be my first single as an artist but the producer was also working with Beyonce at the time and played it to her and she loved it so I was given the option of keeping the song for myself or giving it to her. You don’t really say no to Beyonce! *laughs*
Talking about kickstarting your career on a high! And since then, you’ve written No. 1 hits for the likes of Kelly Clarkson and Shawn Mendes. When writing a song, do you ever have a strong feeling that it’s going to be a smash, or do they come by surprise a lot of the time? There are definitely sessions where you really feel it. It’s really hard to tell. I sort of go off with that feeling that gives you that stimulating emotional connection and sometimes it really resonates with me and sometimes it’s not necessarily the song that is my genre but stylistically I try to naturally keep the consistency with the way I work. There are definitely genres that I connect with more. So, yeah I definitely feel like there are moments where you believe you’ve written something really special and that I’m proud of. I try not to get too emotionally attached to the records and let them take their own path.
Is the process for writing a song pretty much the same or does it vary? On paper, it would seem that writing for Ciara would be a different experience when writing for Ozzy Osbourne? Yes, there are differences but I think for the most part it is the same if you start with the music and then the melodies and then the lyrics. It depends on the artist’s involvement as they really dictate the direction and how the session is going to unfold. My process is pretty much the same and has been for the past couple of years but I am able to adapt to the sort of natural flow. I think that’s why I’ve been able to work in so many different genres because I’m not completely stuck in one area.
This year, you have been killing it. You wrote Dua Lipa‘s “Break My Heart” and Miley Cyrus‘ “Midnight Sky.” What was it like working with those ladies? Oh, it was awesome! I love those women and their great songwriters as well. We’ve become friends through working together so it feels like a good hang when we’re together. And their processes are very similar when they write because they are very active in the process and so it always it fun and takes off some of the pressure to come in inspired as they usually have something they want to get out.
BTS are one of the biggest groups in the world right now and you’ve written a number of tracks for them. What was it like working with them? Were you in the studio with them all? I was not, no. My fiance sort of drove the ship with BTS and has a more rhythmic style of writing. When we were asked to work on some of their material, they sent us some tracks over which was really fun because we kind of went into it still pretty blind to what they want and because there is such a distance geographically, their label gave us the freedom to explore a bunch of ideas. They either picked a chunk of one melody that we did and they sort of put all the pieces altogether themselves.
Are most of the experiences like that or are you usually in the studio with the artists? Most of the time I’m in the studio with the artist, for the past few years, it has been that way. I think that’s because artists that are at the top of the charts right now are all incredible songwriters as well and less about writing a song and placing it with an artist and more so the collaboration.
Out of all the songs that you have written, is there a song you are most proud of? It’s hard to say because there are songs that represent a time in my life. I think that “Stonger” [Kelly Clarkson] was the song that really solidified my position in the industry and then “Let Me Love You” for Justin Bieber was the second major hit that I had. “Let Me Love You” really marked the next phase of my career that is still going pretty strong. It was the first song that Andrew Watt, Brian Lee, Louis Bell, and I had written together so it was the beginning of our collaboration and I still write with Andrew every session and I think that’s a really rare and special thing in this industry.
You don’t really see too many teams still working together as long as we have. And we still laugh when we’re in the studio and can’t believe that we have been doing this for as long as we have. In some ways, it feels like we have been doing it forever and in another way, it feels like we’re still like kids writing records. When we started out we were just writing in his guesthouse bungalow in Beachwood Canyon, throwing darts in the dark not really knowing what was going to happen and it really just came together. I feel very fortunate to have those friendships. A lot of it is luck and that things happen at the right place and the right time and you say yes to the right sessions. You never know where it’s going to take you. So that’s been a really awesome part of my journey.
In 2019, you won the BMI Pop Songwriter of the Year award. How did that feel to win that after many years of hard work? It felt incredible, it really did. It represented so much more than just a trophy. Andrew was always a bit of an outward dreamer and would throw things out into the universe and say that we would win Songwriter of the Year and so winning that together with him was still very surreal thinking back on it. I just adore everyone at BMI and the work that they put in and their ability to take care of songwriters. I imagine the rest of my career will be with BMI because they’ve taken such care of me and I feel very safe with them.
With the success, you are a 35x platinum Grammy-nominated songwriter. Do you get given plaques for the songs? I do, yeah. I always imagined that I would hang up those plaques but maybe one day. I send them back to my mom but at some point, I’ll feel better about flaunting them.
Are there any artists that you haven’t worked with that would be a dream to write for? Ah, there are so many. I would love to work with Stevie Nicks, she’s much at the top of the list. Rihanna would be awesome. Ed Sheeran would be fun, I would like to do that. The list could go on.
Lastly, have you set yourself any goals for the rest of the year? Yeah, I really hope that Creative Waves can be forever and I can’t wait to see what it develops into. I hope to ensure that music and arts programs are locked in and secure in the school system and not only are they an important part of the curriculum but also evolving. As far as songwriting goes, I still have the same amount of drive from when I started but it’s a bit different, I want to keep honing in my skills and improving my work and putting out songs that they can feel connected to.