Making it in any industry is super tough, especially the music industry where you are hot one second and gone the next. Add reality into that of some sorts, and the pressure on you is even higher than you would expect. However, there are a select few that find what works for them inside the industry, thrive on it, and continue to make themselves relevant and fantastic in what they do throughout it all. A good example of that is producer Donnie Klang, who is one half of the producing team at The Loft Sound Studio, located right outside New York City in Long Island.
Donnie, for most people, is remembered for being the solo standout on MTV’s hit series “Making The Band”, where Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs separated him from the pack and wanted to explore a solo career for him while five other guys formed the band that he was supposed to be trying out for. Having his success in the limelight, he has transitioned himself into being an up and coming producer in music, and is doing what he can to find the next big thing in it. We sat down with Donnie to talk about all of this, from his humble beginnings in “Making The Band” to where he is currently.
What was your overall initial experience like when you did Making The Band so many years ago?
Initially it was similar to The Voice or American Idol. Hours waiting on line in the cold. The whole experience was so surreal that it’s hard to remember everything. I remember the epic moments- signing my first record deal.. Filming my first music video with Puff.. Looking out the MTV TRL window down at thousands of fans in Times Square. And lots of flights and hotels and traveling.
Do people have a warped perception when it comes to what is shown on reality television?
We always make the joke reality TV- take 2. It’s tough for a film crew to capture every single thing that happens 24 hours a day 7 days a week and then somehow turn it into a storyline that makes sense to a viewer. It’s crazy because I remember a lot of different things than what actually had aired on TV.
What do you think it was that made you stand out from the other guys, hence Puff wanting you to do something solo?
I went into the competition an underdog. I wasn’t the best dancer or singer in the bunch. But I have a crazy work ethic and when I set my mind to something I won’t sleep until I accomplish it. I was like a sponge learning from everyone around me and building on my talents. I learned a lot through that experience.
What essentially brought on the transition from spotlight to producing?
It’s a tough business. As a recording artist there’s a small window of opportunity to capitalize on- and you need the right team in place to help make it all happen. We made a lot of mistakes on the business end. So 4 years ago I got back in touch with my best friend from high school, Matthew LaPorte, that I’ve been singing with since way before making the band and we opened up our own recording studio business “The Loft Sound Studio” and set out to find and develop new talent. One of our first clients, Madison Beer, we developed for about 8 months and helped her get a deal with Justin Bieber and Scooter Braun.
Did you take anything you learned from Puff when you were developing these artists?
Absolutely. Making The Band was the last of an era of artist development. Labels now just want a package or product they can sell without putting in the time and energy that they used to put into artists. Specifically learning from Puff how to be multifaceted- he has a record label- he’s an artist – has a clothing line- Ciroc vodka- fragrances- he’s involved in real estate- charities- etc. It takes a lot of hard work and focus. I also learned from the things we did right and wrong. Now I’m able to advise my artists on what to avoid and what to push harder at.
Tell me about some of the artists you are working with now.
We work with a ton of amazing talent at The Loft Sound Studio. We’ve gotten artists we developed onto The Voice and X Factor. Our most notable act is a girl group we auditioned and put together ” The Janes “. Five girls from 16-22 years old that we have been developing for about a year and half. I’m sure you’ll be hearing about them this year.
Do you still have aspirations to get back out there and make another mark on the music industry?
I’ve always said if I do something that builds my career on the business side that I’m making money and have some time to step away I’ll do another album. I don’t want to do it in the hopes of it selling or because it’s what a label wants me to do- I want it to be genuine and about the music and my creativity.
What are your biggest hopes for your career moving forward?
My biggest hope is that I never stop dreaming. As you break through levels into this industry it gets more stressful and you can easily forget why you were doing this from day one. Currently- my goal for this year is to hear a song I produced and / or wrote on the radio.