Jacob Kasher on 'Quitting' Music, Then Crafting Hits for Maroon 5 and Charlie Puth
publish date: 2017-11-03
At a certain point, Jacob Kasher (professionally known by his moniker J Kash) was done pursuing a career in music.
“You can probably scour the internet for some awful audio of myself rapping,” says Kasher with a laugh from his West Hollywood studio of his former dream. “I wasn’t living the movie 8 Mile or anything; I used to just rap for fun and try to make beats. I was 25 but never made any money or had a job [or was] looking at music as a way to make a living, just wandering about in the pursuit of happiness.”
Fortunately for Kasher, he’s since improved on those early days in Virginia. Lately, the writer-producer has found a home on the radio, crafting some of the biggest pop tracks in the country, from Maroon 5’s recent rising singles “Don’t Wanna Know" and “Cold” (he’s credited as an executive producer on their newest album, Red Pill Blues) to cuts for Zara Larsson (“So Good”) and Liam Payne (“Bedroom Floor”). However, it’s his partnership with another major pop act that altered both the trajectory of his life and career.
The first time Kasher met Charlie Puth, the two were introduced by another pop star. “I was in the studio with Jason Derulo and Charlie walked in the room to say hello,” remembers Kasher. “Afterwards, Jason wanted to take me out on tour [to work on music] and said, ‘You really need to work with this guy.’ He thought we’d make a great team.’” After spending two weeks on a studio tour bus, Kasher and Puth became close collaborative partners, with the two joining forces on a string of Puth hits, from his Selena Gomez duet “We Don’t Talk Anymore” to current smashes “How Long” and “Attention,” the first two singles from Puth’s upcoming sophomore album. Voicenotes. “Charlie’s on all together another level than anyone,” explains Kasher. “He’s a special guy and has a real gift, so for me to sit here and say, ‘I wrote this song with Charlie’ is awesome.”
All smiles w the most talented guy on --
A post shared by J Kash (@jacobkasher) on Sep 15, 2017 at 8:32am PDT
For Kasher, the collaboration with Puth scratches a creative itch that he found elusive for much of his career. After giving up on his hip-hop dreams in Virginia, Kasher decamped for Miami with a friend, soon befriending the producer Kevin Rudolf. (Both Kasher and Rudolf would hang out at the local mall in the same store.) Before long, the two struck up a friendship with Kasher, subsequently helping Rudolf craft his entire debut album, 2008’s In the City. “He was producing and I was more co-writing songs,” says Kasher of the collaboration. “I’d be a part of the conversations about the vision and what shit was going to sound like, but it was very much his thing I was a part of.” When Rudolf became a star when his debut single, the thumping “Let It Rock,” hit No. 5 on the Hot 100, Kasher’s fate was sealed. “I felt like I hit the lottery -- not in a financial way, but I never thought I’d have opportunities in music that would be beneficial for my life,” Kasher remembers.
With a song on the charts, he then made another move, this time trading Florida’s sun for Los Angeles. “When I first got to California, I learned as I went and started to get lucky.” Kasher’s lucky breaks during his early days in L.A. included a handful of chart-toppers (Kesha’s “We R Who We R,” Cobra Starship’s “Good Girls Go Bad”) as well as a bevy of sessions that never went anywhere.
Says Kasher: “Some of the stuff was cool, and some of the stuff…” he pauses. “I would basically say ‘Yes’ to anything. I didn’t give a fuck. Anytime someone would have me in a studio and they had a food budget, I was there.” That included a disastrous session with Lindsay Lohan, then at the height of her tabloid heyday. “We had a song for her and I remember when she came in, we played it [and] she just left.” However, Kasher readily admits his memory is fogged of the session, as well as much of his early days navigating the industry in California, since he was in the midst of battling addiction. “I was popping a lot of pills then, doing Xanax and taking painkillers,” he explains, noting he’s been sober for the past four years. “Anything that happened before then is a blur.”