Timbaland Talks Producing Music for ‘Empire’ TV Show and Upcoming Album

Fox has a new show called Empire, which centers around a fictional music and entertainment company and the drama among the members of the founders’ family.
Now after only two months on-air, the show has brought on Timbaland to executive produce the music. The multi-Grammy winner recently spoke with entertainment magazine Vanity Fair about his new gig and upcoming album, Opera Noir. Here’s what we learned from the brief, yet insightful conversation.
He believes the best music producers don’t stay stagnant.

“I don’t look at what I’ve done in the past, I look at what I’m setting up for the future. I feel like every six years the greats kind of revamp themselves—and for me, Empire is like a first step of my re-invention.”

His creative process is flexible.

“Sometimes things are written to beats, or we go over the script. I’ve got a great relationship with (Empire producer) Brian Grazer, and Lee is letting me be free—letting me interpret the words into music and emotion. Also, I have a team of great people, like Jim Beanz—he writes most of the work, and I tell him the concept of what I want; I oversee it, I listen to it, I change a word here, or add something to a beat, switch that over there … like that.”

He wants to bring back “quality music.”

“I’ve got a label partnership now with [Epic Records chairman and CEO] L.A. Reid. I’m producing a 19-year-old girl named Tink, who’s going to change things back to the days of Lauryn Hill and Missy Elliott—girls who gave you substance the way Biggie Smalls and Tupac did. And a singer named V. Bozeman—and while I don’t like comparing people to other people, she’s going to give you that feeling that Whitney Houston gave you. They’re also on my [forthcoming] album, Opera Noir, which is like nothing you’ve heard before. What I’m trying to find are these young people who have the same hunger and passion I once had and still have, and pass it on to the future. I feel I can be a mentor and help make new music that will break through some of the garbage. When music starts to fall off the path, with dumbness and flashiness, well, it’s my job to set a tone, a foundation. If you want quality music, come up on the Timbaland side of the street.”

Related: Timbaland Says His New Artist Tink ‘Saved My Life’