Crafting the Song of Ali Tamposi

Crafting the Song of Ali Tamposi

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Crafting the Song of Ali Tamposi

In a (still virtual) fireside chat with V, Tamposi dives into charitable work, songwriting through an abyss, and what it's like working on hit after hit after hit

In a (still virtual) fireside chat with V, Tamposi dives into charitable work, songwriting through an abyss, and what it's like working on hit after hit after hit

Text: Ahad Sanwari

Ali Tamposi’s career as a songwriter, essentially someone worthy of being labelled “songwriter to the stars,” has been on a meteoric rise for the past few years. Grammy nominated, certified 35x Platinum (that’s 3.5 Diamonds, y’all), net three Billboard number ones and several top 10s, her imprint on top 40 radio has been significant. Songs like Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger,” Camila Cabello’s “Havana,” Cabello and Shawn Mendes’ “Senorita,” Selena Gomez and Marshmello’s “Wolves,” DJ Snake and Justin Bieber’s “Let Me Love You,” 5 Seconds of Summer’s “Youngblood,” among several others, all give her discography a reason to shine. But none encapsulates her journey quite like the very first song she wrote, “Save The Hero” for Beyoncé in 2008, where the lyrics tell the story of her past, present, and future.

“But everybody wants to lean on me
I guess I’m their soldier”

For Tamposi, it’s the art that’s the most important to her, something she aims to advocate for with the initiation of the Creative Waves charitable foundation. Founded in 2019, the foundation aims to advocate for arts and music education in schools, helping preserve such programs and providing facilities to make them happen, including fundraising to build an Enrichment Center in Belle Glade, Florida. “I believe that all of us are creative,” Tamposi says. “And I think we just haven’t had the access to or the proper education for things that can really stimulate that part of us.”

The message of Creative Waves is on the verge of a breakthrough with the creation of Song Start, an online platform for aspiring musicians to educate themselves, learn about the industry, and sharpen their skills. Involving classes with A&R reps, industry executives, songwriters, producers, mixers, and several other heavyweights of the vast expanses of the music industry, Song Start will be taking its practical and rhythm-heavy curriculum to Spotify soon. “Why not give everyone who wants access that just doesn’t have the resources to go to major schools, or to pay for Masterclass? Why not lift the veil on the process in real-time from the people who do it every day?”

A large part of the force behind Creative Waves and Song Start is Tamposi’s mother, an educator (who was Ali’s school principal) and advocate for arts education. Tamposi herself grew up in West Palm Beach, Florida, the kind of kid who did musical theatre and jazz band to indulge in the escapist aspect of music. “I remember after school, I would come home and just go right to the CDs, and I only had a small collection,” she adds, “but I would open up the CD case and I would always read the lyrics inside the booklet and just really feel the stories.”

Her mother played an instrumental role in getting her career off the ground, often driving her down to Miami to meet with producers and put in hours at the studio. Chance connections and years of training eventually gave her the start she needed when she wrote “Save The Hero,” eventually making its way to the deluxe version of Beyoncé’s record-breaking I Am…Sasha Fierce album.

“Who’s there to save the girl
After she saves the world”

Further work in the studio figuring out her sound as an artist and songwriter (and a move to LA) led to a period of slower returns which eventually culminated in penning Clarkson’s “Stronger,” a global number one hit that earned Tamposi a Grammy nod for Song of the Year. “My songwriting, while it varies, usually starts with a conversation,” Tamposi explains. “We talk about the intention, what mood or emotion we want to evoke. From there, it moves on to the melody and that sets the stage for the lyrics.”

But it was the period after “Stronger” that proved to be the most challenging. “There were two to three years in between “Stronger” and “Let Me Love You,” she says “where I’d say everything in that window was extremely challenging to write. Because I was emotionally reliant upon a substance outside of myself, that could help create the magic.” 

Tamposi’s personal struggles and dependency on alcohol continued on till she achieved a breakthrough in 2016 with the release of “Let Me Love You,” the one creation she considers to be the most rewarding in her career. “It proved to me,” she says “that I can be honest with myself, I can create some space where I can tap into my own emotions and I don’t have to be influenced or stimulated by a substance to really tap in.” The song also marked her first collaboration with frequent partner-in-melodic crime, Andrew Watt, who started racking up the hits with her as co-writer and producer, also sitting on the Creative Waves board.

“Come find this buried treasure
Rainbows lead to a pot of gold”

The culmination of her rise thus far, both career-wise and personal, comes with her most recent work on Bieber’s album, Justice, an album predominantly created during the COVID-19 pandemic and a nice full circle moment. “The only difference was that we weren’t all in a room together,” she says. “But I think that even though the world stopped, the desire to create something and the urge to get out of our heads and putting pen to paper or a computer and doing something productive drove us forward and everything came together well.”

After a busy opening season of the pandemic, especially working on Miley Cyrus’ rockstar debut Plastic Hearts, Tamposi has been able to find her groove and figure out what she wants going forward. “I do feel like I’ve grown a tremendous amount through this pandemic,” she says “I feel like I want to share more of a connection to the process and less about getting the numbers on the board, because you never get fulfilment from those numbers.”

But given the state of the world, the state of the music industry, constantly in a state of evolution and change, what’s the guarantee?

At the very start of our conversation, Tamposi, a fan of the ocean, rang in from her house in Malibu, talking about taking her dog for a walk on the beach, visiting her little brother for coffee, summing up the moment by saying, “it’s such a beautiful day.” And that statement, that little assurance of bliss, leaves you with everything you need to know about the life and career of Ali Tamposi.

Credits: Image credits: Christina Arza

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