I’m ‘All About That Bass’… And Kevin Kadish
by Jill Effron
You know you’re all about that bass and shake it like you’re supposed to do every time Meghan Trainor’s hit, “All About That Bass,” comes on the radio. After all, “A.A.T.B.” is the number 1 song in the world. I’m excited about this not only because it’s empowering women across the globe to be comfortable with their bodies, but because my dear friend, Kevin Kadish, co-wrote and produced it.
Kevin and I met when we were both teenage camp counselors. He was a musician wanting to be heard, I was writer searching for my voice, and we were living in a small town. It was like Footloose, without the religion. Kevin was like a big brother to me, doling out advice and observations such as, “Jill, you’re the architect of your own romantic woes.” He was spewing out song lyrics way before he became Grammy-nominated. Recently, Kevin and I caught up during a break from a recording session.
Jill Effron: So, how do you go from the guy whose red Honda hatchback was packed with amps and guitars to the guy with the number 1 song in the world?
Kevin Kadish: Well, let’s be real here… I was unsuccessful for as long as I’ve been successful. I didn’t get my first publishing deal (with Warner Chappell Music Publishing) until I was almost 30. I played in bands and solo acoustic, touring up and down the East Coast for most of my 20s. So, I had no money for a very long time. I knew that, if this was the life I wanted, then I’d have to accept the possibility that I could be broke. The key is I never left myself a “Plan B”… No escape route. I think that forces you to find a way to make it work.
JE: Who came up with the song?
KK: I had the title for a few years. On the first day that I ever wrote with Meghan, I was going down my list of titles and I said “All About That Bass (No Treble)”, she sang, “Because you know because I’m all about the bass… Yeah, it’s pretty clear, I ain’t no size two.” And from there, unknowingly, a global body anthem was born.
JE: She’s a songwriter like you, right?
KK: Yes, she’s an incredible writer, and most people in the music business thought she was “just” a songwriter. But, the minute I heard her sing, I knew she was an artist. Her voice was so unique and she had a very definitive point of view on life. We both had a deep love of 50s music and we decided to make a 50s EP for fun. There were no rules. We weren’t “chasing the radio”. She actually got a record deal off “All About That Bass” before we even finished writing the EP. In fact, when L.A. Reid heard the track, he told his staff not to touch it… He said, “master it!”. That never happens!! He gets all the props in the world from me for not trying to put a big name producer on it to “legitimize” it. That takes guts and vision. I owe him a very nice dinner. Ha ha!
JE: Can you explain what ‘all about that bass’ really means?
KK: You have bass and treble on your stereo. Bass is round and thick. Treble is thin.
JE: Oooh. Makes sense.
KK: It’s meant to be positive. We’re not bashing skinny girls by any stretch of the imagination.
JE: How do you comprehend what’s going on in your life right now?
KK: How do you comprehend something bigger than you? You don’t! You just keep working. It would be like driving in a race and you pull over to see how you just slipped into 1st place. All of a sudden, everyone’s passing you. I want to build on this success, not stand around and watch it. Moments like these don’t last forever, but you can prolong them by following them up with another hit. This is definitely life changing for me. I’ve had hits on the radio before, and worked with legitimate artists like Jason Mraz, Miley Cyrus, and Willie Nelson (amongst others), but this is different — and I know that it doesn’t happen every day.
JE: Was there ever a point in your career when you thought ‘it’ would never happen?
KK: Of course. I was sleeping on my friend’s couches, I had no money, I’m getting credit cards to pay off credit cards to survive so I can keep doing music — and I do not recommend that!
JE: You started out wanting to be a musician. How does it feel be the songwriter instead of the performer?
KK: Sometimes in life you have to come to terms with the fact that, what you “want to be” isn’t what you’re “meant to be.” I realized a long time ago I was just better at facilitating young artists and figuring out who they are and finding out what their unique identifier is. I look at the music business like rush hour traffic. What lane do you drive in where there’s no traffic? If you don’t have a lane to drive in, then you’re stuck behind everyone else that’s doing the same thing you are.
JE: That goes for any career, really.
KK: It’s just about realizing what makes you an individual.
JE: How is Meghan handling all of this success?
KK: She was an unknown artist, with no fan base, and went to number 1 in 10 weeks, and has been number 1 on the hot 100 for 4 weeks. She’s handling it with incredible grace and professionalism. This can mostly be attributed to the fact that she’s a solid person, from a good family. She has a strong foundation, and she’s an extremely intelligent girl.
JE: I’m just so excited for you. I still have your cassette tape and put a song of yours on my mix tape.
KK: That’s embarrassing.
JE: And I still have some letters you wrote me in college. I mean, what if a camp counselor you once worked with, who you still have handwritten letters from, makes it? No one’s printing texts for posterity.
KK: Did I make it?
JE: Yes, Kevin, you made it.
KK: I need to call my mom.