How Poo Bear Went From Being Homeless to Writing Justin Bieber Hits

Poo Bear
Poo Bear at Record Plant studios in Los Angeles / Red Bull

Songwriter, producer, and singer Poo Bear is best known for co-writing some of Justin Bieber’s biggest hits, like “What Do You Mean” and Jack U’s “Where Are U Now.” However, the Connecticut native got his start in the ’00s, having penned anthems such as 112‘s “Dance With Me” and “Peaches & Cream,” and Usher‘s “Caught Up.”

In an inspiring interview with Complex’s Blueprint series, Poo Bear discussed his humble beginnings and rise to fame, from being homeless to writing for some of music’s biggest stars.

Betting it all on music:

“I never had a back-up plan. [laughs] My teachers [would] just say, ‘you need to pay attention in school ’cause only 1% of people make it in the music business and you’re not that 1%.’ When my teacher said that to me, I was 15 and I had a song on the radio with a group called 112. … I never thought about if this doesn’t happen, what am I gonna do. Never. Not once did I come up with a back-up plan. So thank god it worked out.”

Transitioning from artist to writer:

“[I] made a conscious decision to quit my group and just focus on writing songs for other people. And I never really honestly had a real desire to be famous. I just wanted to be able to make a better living for my family.”

His writing process:

“I go to my phone and I’m gonna look up concepts that I’ve been jotting down. … The concept is usually the title of the song … the main idea of the song. Then it’s the chords; let’s find the chords that move people’s emotions. And then usually I start off doing the hook first, the most important part of the song. The hook for me is always supposed to be simple and effective, so simple enough for a five-year-old to sing along with it unconsciously … but then clever enough to stimulate a smart person.”

Staying focused during uncertain times:

“When you don’t have options and your back is up against the wall, you deliver and you find yourself getting through moments that in reality, they’re trying times, but there really wasn’t any other options. It was like, you gotta go in and you gotta work, you gotta create music, and you have to be honest, and it’s not gonna be great every time but you gotta keep doing it. I think that’s what got me to this place, just not having a back-up plan.”

Watch the full conversation below.

Related: Skrillex Teams With Poo Bear for Soulful Single, ‘Would You Ever’