In August 2021, in a live Instagram video that went viral, singer Summer Walker told her Instagram followers that she and famous music producer London on da Track have gone their separate ways. Now, several months later, it looks like the producer is the inspiration for some of the songs on the singer’s heartbreaking new album. Always on. The new tracks seem to reflect Walker’s love life – and she renders them with her trademark sound of melodies, acoustic moods, poetic sensations – with a deeply personal blow to why the relationship ended.
Obviously, London wasn’t a producer on this album, but Summer Walker was in good hands as legendary music producer and songwriter Sean Garrett helped Walker complete the album. In fact, he wrote 10 of the 19 songs. The chart-topping producer has produced 52 number one singles in seven years. He has written and produced for other stars such as Usher, Beyoncé, Ciara, Mary J Blige, Diddy, Britney Spears and Chris Brown. Now his skills have helped the latest version of Walker achieve similar success.
Below, EBONY chatted with the iconic producer about his work on Walker’s latest project, his days working with Usher and Beyoncé, and what we can expect from his new baby, his label Hey Young World (HWY) .
EBONY: How do you feel now that the project with Summer Walker is over?
Sean Garrett: Unbelievable. It is out. Everyone loves him. It’s a time of celebration, probably like a historic moment, to be honest with you. We break all types of records. We are No. 1 in 40 different global markets. We are # 1 in 5 different countries on iTunes. It is billed as the biggest female debut since Beyoncé Lemonade. It’s getting crazy. It’s getting crazy all over the world. I am so happy for everyone who participated in the album. I’m so happy for Interscope and I’m so happy for R&B music. I guess I’m getting good at it. Another memorable moment was when we were doing Usher’s Yes! He was coming to the back of Napster. Napster has definitely rocked the world. Everyone thought the music was over and then come back with a dominant album, my first record. It was unbelievable.
People were waiting for him… did you feel a lot of pressure?
Of course, we felt the pressure. I can’t lie, I felt the pressure. But it’s part of our sport. It’s part of what we do. We worked our tail on this album. So it’s gratifying to finally be able to release it and everyone loves it.
You‘I’ve worked with a lot of great celebrities — Usher, Beyoncé, and others. What was it like working with Summer Walker? How is she different from other people than you‘have you worked with?
Being able to work with someone like a Beyoncé on Destiny’s Child, then work with her on B’Day, is completely different. So working with Summer, I would say Summer is unique. We had a different way of working together than the way I worked with Beyoncé. I think it was really perfect based on how Summer worked. We really didn’t mind. Especially since she also controls her pen. She’s really so good. It was a perfect match.
What do you think of the reaction of fans and people in the industry to the album?
Unbelievable. Everyone and their mom hit me. I couldn’t ask for more. I feel amazing for our culture. It’s definitely something cultural. We have stopped the world and therefore for blacks, R&B, urbanites who love R&B music, for the history of R&B music, it’s incredible.
I read that you worked on 10 of the 20 songs. What songs have you worked on?
I don’t remember all the names because there were a lot of them, but “Amer”, “Screw on”, “Constant BS. There were a lot of songs. Some of Summer’s songs were recordings that she had made herself. They were so beautiful. She is very unique. It is not a carbon copy. She doesn’t look at things the same as other people, which is what makes some of her opinions unique.
The songs seem to reflect what the world knows about the artist real love life. Is it difficult to be so open with the world through music and how did you help it to do so?
You know, I’ve written quite a few life-changing records—Check this, make me a body, sound the alarm, Diva, Tshirt, Girl, Soulja, Lose my breath, Good woman, Enough crying, Work this. It’s just what I do, so it wasn’t that hard to touch Summer because you know we’re both genuine people and I really consider her a little sister. So I wanted her to have certain perspectives like for example for “Fourth Baby Mamma”, she didn’t want to be called a fourth baby mom; but you will hear my prelude there and then Summer gives it another facet. So basically the prelude is the idea of being the fourth baby mom, and then the other half of the song is the result of being the fourth baby mom. We collaborate very well. This comes from the fact that everyone knows their role and knows what they have come to do.
You‘I’m working on a new label, Hey Young World. How will HYW improve, change or impact the culture of music and black people?
One of the most important aspects would be the holistic approach. There is a certain integrity, passion and perspective that we put into music and our art as a culture. And that’s the same kind of integrity, passion and perspective that we put in our plans and in our model as a label. And then there is also the approach we take to teach and take care of our artists. So many young artists suffer from not having the advice and information they need to access to build a real career. I have a career, my son. Do you know what I’m saying? Not just a few years. Decades. And I want our artists to have it too. Without mentorship – having someone to teach them the ins and outs of the business and how to make a real living out of their trade – it will be so easy for them to get eaten up by the industry. There are artists who can change culture. This is the kind of artist that we want to grow and bring to the world.
Max Goussee has always been a very good friend of mine. He’s someone I’ve always admired in the industry and met him while working on B’Day, on one of the biggest albums of my career. It ended up being such an amazing project, and we ended up eliminating this process in such a short time. Max really understands business, branding, marketing. I really feel like we are a great team.
Are you looking only for rappers and singers or are you looking for songwriters as well?
So we are not necessarily looking for songwriters. But if I happen to find an artist who is incredibly bonkers, but also has this gift, then that’s an added bonus. For me, as a songwriter and producer, there is nothing quite like working with an artist who understands how to write and create an amazing song from scratch. So that might put someone on the edge. Songwriters are also legends.
Anything else we should know?
My new album is also on the way. The first trimester. I haven’t named him yet. Always TBT.