Midem Music Sessions – Candice Pillay explains how she got to write for rap and pop legends

Having worked with some of the best in the music industry today (Dr. Dre, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Rihanna, Christina Aguilera, Anderson .Paak, Tinie Tempah, Calvin Harris, and many more), Candice Pillay is one hell of an example to follow for the dreamers out there.

A real story of a self-made artist with undeniable talent and determination. Born and raised in the small town of Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Candice Pillay’s journey from Africa to America was not an easy one. Her relentless sprit and passion for music drove her to accomplish amazing results.

Pop singer and songwriter Candice Pillay, an Indian native of South Africa, moved to the U.S. at the age of 19. In the early 2010s, after several years of trying to break into the industry, she gained major traction once she co-wrote a track for Rihanna (“Cockiness [Love It]”), and co-wrote and co-produced several cuts for Christina Aguilera’s Lotus album.

In 2015, after she racked up additional credits with Tinie Tempah, Candice Pillay released a mixtape titled The Mood Kill, and a number of high-profile releases surfaced with her input. First was Rihanna’s “American Oxygen,” and Dr. Dre’s Compton followed a few months later with Pillay’s writing on five tracks, two of which also featured her vocals. A little later in the year, former Danity Kanemembers Shannon Bex and Aubrey O’Day debuted their slightly left of center Dumblonde project with a self-titled album that involved her writing on all but one cut.

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Solo artist signed to Interscope Records, Kid in a Korner and a super star writer published under Universal Publishing.

Candice also started developing/co-producing the sound for a very fresh new boy band called “WHY DON’T WE”  The band has gained much success recently signing their record deal to Atlantic Records. Sold out tours across the world boasting her impressive catalogue on this phenomenal group.

Now multiple Platinum, Grammy nominated, singer/songwriter Candice Pillay is set to release her own album in 2019.

What is Midem Music Sessions about?

Midem Music Sessions consists of a series of discussions and insights that will take you deep into the music production process. From music producers and accomplished songwriters sharing their experience on music creation, to some of the most talented international singers playing live during our Midem Studio Sessions, get a glimpse into the process of modern music creation.

This Midem Music Session was recorded by Dynaudio at Midem 2019.

Here’s a selection of the most insightful quotes or anecdotes from her talk:

One of the first songs that I wrote was supposed to be for my album. One day, Rihanna’s manager came in the studio to listen to some of the stuff and she said to me “This is an amazing song, you should consider giving it to Rihanna for her album, she would love this.” And I was like “No way! Why would I give this away? This is my song.” I didn’t understand what it meant. But people were like “It’s a good idea, you should think about doing that. You could probably write another song.” But I didn’t even know how I wrote this song! I was new in figuring out what it meant. So it ended up that my song did get placed on her album and my life completely changed.


I was in the grocery store when I got a call on my phone. It is a girl that is like “Hi, this is Christina Aguilera and I would really like you to write on my album.”. I just hung up because I thought it was a joke, this could not be Christina Aguilera on my phone. And then her team called back and said “It was really Christina and you hung up on her!” [laughs]. I ended up meeting Christina and working with her for about 6 months on her album. We wrote 8 songs together. That happened right after the Rihanna song so I had to kind of change my perspective about me being an artist and really just dive into writing. And because I’ve worked with Christina for so long, I really figured out what it was like to be a songwriter.


The first night that I met Dre, he was in a session and he told me “I heard you had some great music and I would love to hear some of it if you have the time.” And I said “Dre, I will wait till the sun comes up if you’re gonna listen to my music! I would love that.” It was a real opportunity to have him hear it. When he was done, he came back into the studio and I remember we were in his room and he has this amazing speakers from heaven. It’s crazy, it’s so loud. You need earplugs on earplugs for those speakers. He then asked me to play a song and I was so stressed out because I didn’t know what the song was gonna be. I put a song on and he put his hands down on the console and listened. I was like “Please like it!” And then he turns around and he said “I love that. Can you play another one?”



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