Music producer Alex Kresovich ’08 recently saw a dream fulfilled when singer CeeLo Green recorded and released his song “Thorns.”
Co-written by Kresovich with longtime friends from Ithaca, Sam Nelson Harris of the rock band X Ambassadors and bassist Hayden Frank, the retro soul song is on Green’s new album, “Heart Blanche,” that came out Nov. 6.
Kresovich also co-produced the recording of the song, which was conceived with Green in mind.
“I’d been a rap producer and got into pop production, but I’d never really done anything soulful. [‘Thorns’] was largely inspired by a lot of ’60s and ’70s soul music,” Kresovich said. “I’m a diehard fan of CeeLo, and it’s been really cool to work with someone with a once-in-a-generation voice.”
At the time he recorded the initial track in 2013 for what would become “Thorns,” Kresovich was down but not out after a publishing deal fell through. He continued to work on the track with Harris, who contributed new elements to the song while his band was on tour.
“He recorded it in their van. Sam is super brilliant,” Kresovich said. “We did everything over email,” sending the track back and forth, he said.
“We had originally just written the chorus; Sam came back and wrote the verses, and then Hayden wrote the bass guitar line on the song,” he said. “Honestly, that’s all labels really care about. If you have a great track and a great chorus, you really don’t need much of anything else.”
Once the demo was ready in early 2014, they wanted Green to hear it.
“We wanted to pitch it to him. There was this label guy who said he’d get it to him, but we didn’t hear anything for a year,” Kresovich said. “Then we heard through the grapevine [last January] that he was working on a new record. I’m an email hustler, so I got in touch with everyone who’d worked with him.”
He heard back from the head of Green’s management company and from “the chairman of talent at Atlantic Records, Craig Kallman. They ended up liking the track. They wanted to make it a little more radio-friendly; the way it ended up, it was even more soulful.”
Kresovich had some success prior to this; in 2010 he was chosen from a worldwide producer showcase to produce a track for the rapper Scarface. The following year, he won a national contest to place a song in the video game NBA 2K12. His song, “The Return,” is on the game’s soundtrack.
He began work as a full-time producer four years ago while he was still a graduate student at the University of Georgia, and moved to Los Angeles last year.
He’s currently working with popular hip-hop artist Hoodie Allen, “producing half of his new project coming out in January,” and with other artists including Happy Camper, Max Schneider and Kid Ink.
His communication major at Cornell “actually helped me get my foot in the door” in the music business, he said. “One of my early professors was Jeff Hancock, and he connected me to another student, Allison Markowitz ['07], who had worked in the business. She had interned at Island Def Jam [Music Group], and helped me get an internship there.”
He said that Harris and X Ambassadors, based in Ithaca, are also enjoying national success.
“It couldn’t happen to a greater group of guys. They’re humble,” Kresovich said. “We grew up together in Ithaca and we had these music dreams. The fact that music finally brought us back together so many years later is really cool.”