Q&A: Owings Mills native Kevin Kadish on Grammy nods, life after 'Bass' and more

Q&A: Grammy-nominee and Owings Mills native Kevin Kadish on jitters, Meghan Trainor's success and more.

In the early hours of Dec. 5, Kevin Kadish had to call Meghan Trainor — the pop star best known for the chart-topper “All About That Bass” — even though he knew it would startle the sleeping singer. It was barely past 5 a.m. in Los Angeles, where Trainor was, but some news can’t wait.

“Bass” — the six-times-platinum collaboration between Kadish and Trainor that has catapulted both of their careers since it took over radio last summer — had earned two of the Grammys’ most prestigious nominations, Record of the Year and Song of the Year. (The Recording Academy explains the difference between the two awards here.)

“I called Meghan and was like, ‘You need to wake up,’” Kadish, 43, said on the phone from his Beverly Hills hotel on Friday. “She was like, ‘Am I dreaming?’ She was half-sleeping, half-crying.”

The success of “Bass,” which spent eight weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 and topped charts in nearly 60 countries, continues to keep the duo busy. Trainor’s debut album, “Title,” entered the Billboard Top 200 chart at No. 1 in January, and her North America headlining tour begins in Vancouver next Wednesday. (Trainor, a Nantucket, Mass., native, plays the Fillmore Silver Spring on March 8, and it has already sold out.) Kadish, who calls Nashville home, signed an administration deal with Sony, and said he has only gotten busier with songwriting and producing since “Bass.”

Before the Grammys (8 p.m. Sunday, CBS), Kadish discussed life after “Bass,” if he’s preparing a speech and more.

Since we last talked, a lot has happened, including Meghan’s album debuting at No. 1. What’s life been like since then?

Non-stop work. [laughs] I have not come up for air yet, you know? It’s good. Work is a good thing. It’s better to be working than not working.

Once “Bass” blew up, and people realized you were behind it, did it have a snowball effect in terms of people calling you to work?

Yeah, but you know, I’ve been in the business for a long time. I think a lot of people already knew me. What it did was rekindle a lot of relationships I had in the past that had sort of gone dormant for a moment. People drift apart. So I met with a couple of label heads that I had known for years but hadn’t seen in years. We’ve been doing some work together since then. 

Where were you when you first heard about your nominations?

I was at my house. I woke up in the morning, and we were just kind of keeping an eye on it. We knew they were coming out that morning; we just didn’t know what order they were coming. David Baron, who plays piano and the [baritone] sax on “Bass,” texted me and said, “Congratulations! Record of the Year.” I was like, “What?” I looked and I missed it.

You were nominated for two of the biggest awards, Song of the Year and Record of the Year.

I was in my studio and I saw a tweet from the Grammy Association, and it was this guy on this video. So I watched the video and he listed Song of the Year nominations, and I got a little choked up. I ran out of the studio and ran back to the house, and I just sort of lost it — just me and my wife. You work your whole life, and this is what you work for. It’s not just financial success. It’s not just the song being massive. That’s your peers nominating you, and it’s just validating. 

Your first Grammy nomination came about a decade ago for your work on Jason Mraz’s “Mr. A-Z” album. Did you go to that ceremony?

I went once just as a spectator, I went once as a nominee and this will be my third time attending.

What’s your general feeling leading up to the awards? Are you nervous?

I haven’t had a lot of time to think about it, but I’ve definitely thought about it. Like, I had to buy clothes. You know, I’m not really nervous. I’m more nervous about winning than losing, because you don’t have to give a speech if you lose. [laughs] I don’t want to get up on TV if I win and come off like a blubbering idiot. 

Are you writing a speech ahead of time?

I have not written a speech. I wrote a speech for my No. 1 party, and I got on stage and I got emotional and I couldn’t read it. I just winged it, and everyone was like, “That was amazing.” I didn’t even know what I said.

Have you and Meghan talked about the awards much or is it an unspoken topic?

We were just texting before you called actually. She’s getting her dress finalized right now. She’s a pro, man. She was born to do this. We’re all surprised by how good she is at handling all this stuff – press, spotlight, everything. You know what she is? She’s authentically authentic, if that makes sense. She’s really good at being Meghan Trainor. She doesn’t know anything else. She’s just herself.

What are you working on now?

I just finished a song for this girl, Maty Noyes. I just co-produced the song with Mike Posner. It’s her single, and it’s coming out in March. … I’m working with the Madden Brothers this week – hometown boys. I had done open-mics with them and shows at Armadillo’s in Annapolis with them. We haven’t really kept in touch, but we’ve known each other for a long time. 

Does one nomination mean more than the other to you?

They mean different things. One is validating as a producer and one is validating as a songwriter. But let’s be honest, I’ve already won. This is icing on the cake to me. I feel like I’ve already won – not a Grammy, but I’ve already won. As much as anyone can win with one project in this business, I’ve won. So I’m just thankful to be here and thankful for the recognition from my peers. That is paramount to me. You work everyday and you don’t know if anyone even notices you. There’s 12,000 voting members [for the Grammys], and the majority voted for these five songs. I happen to be one of the five songs, which is incredible. 

Your schedule must be crazy this weekend, so I won’t keep you longer. Anything else you want to add?

Just that I hope I represent Baltimore well this weekend.


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