Justin Bieber’s Surprise Collaborator: 17-Year-Old Producer Steve James Talks “Purpose”
Nestled among the line-up of super producers (Skrillex, Benny Blanco, BLOOD) that worked on Justin Bieber’s chart-topping Purpose LP is newcomer Steve James. While the 17-year-old’s SoundCloud is peppered with remixes of tracks by ZHU, Dillon Francis and Melanie Martinez, he was largely known as a bedroom producer before catching the attention of Team Bieber. Needless to say, that’s about to change.
“I came to Los Angeles over the summer to grow as an artist and to really expand my mind creatively across new genres,” The Johnstown, PA native explains. “I was fortunate enough to work with a lot of incredibly talented people and, as anybody in the music industry would know, sometimes you just need to be in the right place at the right time. [Bieber collaborator] Poo Bear enjoyed the music that I was currently working on at the time and wanted to get me involved with the album.”
That led the teenager to co-writing and co-producing “Purpose” (below). “It was an idea that Bieber’s team had going into the process, but I think the fact that it was a message that resonated with us all so much is what drove creative process behind this track,” Steve remembers. His reaction to it becoming the title track? “It was a combination of excitement and disbelief. I don’t think it actually set in with me until Justin started sharing the artwork on his socials.”
The rising producer worked on three tracks with Justin, but only the piano ballad made the final tracklist. However, we’ll be hearing a lot more from Steve in the near future. He’s focussing on releasing his own material and is currently working on a collaboration with Clairity. “I have an original lined up for the end of November,” he reveals. “For now, I’m trying to put myself in the best position to make the biggest splash once all of this Bieber news is behind me.”