Featured myHitOnline member Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir, now stationed in Norway (Tor Erik Hermansen & Mikkel SE are based in New York) sat down with us to share his experiences.

 

Rustan has been in involved with high-level projects that have landed the production team numerous #1 hits.

 

Starting in the music business as far back as 1997, the team managed to get a firm grip on the UK market boasting production credits on album projects for artists such as Blue to Cher and Atomic Kitten to Samantha Mumba and Sisqo and many more.

 

With the move to the US, Tor and Mikkel, are continuing their production work in that territory, while Rustan stayed back in Norway with his family still actively working on various high-level projects.

 

 

Did your family influence your interest in music?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: Actually, I went to church every Sunday and was sitting next to my mother, who was the church organ player. I later started to play the guitar and compose music with my sister.

 

Sounds like you were always surrounded by music when you were growing up - how did your parents react to your growing interest in music?

 

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: I have always had a love for music first and foremost, but my dad said that although I can continue my music, I should get some other education.

 

Since I was always interested in cars, I delved into mechanical engineering, which could lead me to either work with cars or with oil wells or similar. So that’s something I had to complete first before I was allowed to do any kind of music.

 

Once you started to spend more time with music, did your equipment change over time or do you still have the same keyboard you started with?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: Yes, it has changed very much – I don’t think I have a single instrument remaining from when I first started.

 

I was always saving money by composing music for radio jingles and every dollar I earned, I would put towards upgrading my music equipment. Today I mostly use Pro Tools.

 

How many songs do you write in a week? Do you always write songs together with the artists or also separately?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: We’re a team of 3 people and currently we write about 2-3 songs a week, but have done as many as 9 songs in a week. We regularly co-write with approximately 10 people.

 

I am currently in Norway, and Mikkel and Tor Eric are in New York. We work on a lot of projects together, but because of the distance they work directly with artists in the US.

 

Currently, I can’t get involved as much as I would like, since I made a choice to stay in Norway, because I didn’t want to leave my family behind.

 

What are some of the biggest mistakes you see songwriters make?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: The biggest mistake new songwriters can make is to spend too much time on the production.

 

It’s better to have a lot of ideas and then look at what might work before delving deeper into the production.

 

We always write a lot of songs – some good, some not so good at all. We only finish off the good songs. It’s easier to get high-quality songs that way.

 

How do you go about improving your songwriting? Do you listen to some other big producers in industry?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: We do that all the time. We constantly listen to other producers, new artists and try to learn from them. Sometimes we try to replicate new sounds or sections to see how they do it.

 

In the end, of course, what we create will sound very different. But it is a good way to learn and experiment with fresh sounds.

 

When did you first start pitching your music?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: Actually, it’s funny you should ask, because ever since I was 8 years of age I started to compose music. My sister and I tried to pitch music to a Norwegian Television festival. The music was awful – not good at all!

 

Nowadays, however, once we know about the latest project opportunities, we like to pitch music through our management.

 

For me, the key to success is a good manager. He will pitch our music to a specific artist, manager or A&R.

 

In the end, how many songs usually get cut?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: If pitching for outside projects, the number of songs that make it to the album is about 1 in 20.

 

Important is to stay focused, work hard and be in the studio to improve your skills all the time so that you can provide the best music out there.

 

 

Since you’ve produced music for so many top artists, have you considered developing your own artists?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: Actually, we have tried, but without success. We launched a project called “Stargate” (no less!) for the UK market.

 

The problem we had was that the music we composed was too similar to the music we produced for other artists. At the time we were working with “Blue” and it was basically a conflict of interest.

 

Let’s just say Blue’s record label Innocent was not thrilled by the idea and we had to focus on Blue instead.

 

Finally, what are some of your favorite projects you’ve been involved with?

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir: There are a lot of projects and it’s hard to choose one, but I particularly enjoyed working with Elton John as well as the Pet Shop Boys.

 

We all had such respect for each other that it was certainly a great experience.

About Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir

 

Stargate's Rustan Hallgeir, now stationed in Norway (Tor Erik Hermansen & Mikkel SE are based in New York), has been in involved with high-level projects that have landed the production team numerous #1 hits.

 

Starting in the music business as far back as 1997, the team managed to get a firm grip on the UK market boasting production credits on album projects for artists such as Blue to Cher and Atomic Kitten to Samantha Mumba and Sisqo and many more.

 

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