Born and raised in Hoover. Got his start on the Birmingham nightclub scene. Now making music in Hermosa Beach, Calif. If your mind is filled with images of sun, surf and beach volleyball, well, think again. Michael Warren is working hard out there in Los Angeles. The singer-songwriter, 30, is living with a roommate to cut costs and looking for every break he can get in the music business.
Case in point: Warren is one of the songwriters of “Goin’ In,” a 2012 radio hit for Jennifer Lopez. The catchy party anthem, featuring Flo Rida and an uncredited Lil Jon, topped Billboard’s chart for Hot Dance Club Songs in the United States and made a significant splash overseas.
Warren also has writing credits on songs recorded by teen heartthrob Cody Simpson (“Summertime,” “Summer Shade”) and British boy band JLS (“One Shot”).
“To hear your song on the radio is, ‘Like, what?'” he says, laughing. “I just like to write the songs that people can’t get out of their heads. My dad always told me, ‘If they can’t remember the chorus, your song’s no good.'”
Warren started his career here about 10 years ago, playing original folk-pop and covers at bars, parties and festivals. He released a couple of albums — “Michael Warren,” 2006, and “Race to Beat the Sun,” 2007 — plus two EPs. Some major labels showed interest, including Atlantic Records, and Warren moved to California in 2009.
Yes, it was a risk. But Warren says he was ready and eager for a challenge. “You just do it,” he says. “Just just pick up your guitar and sing. You just play music. You follow your head.”
When his deal with Atlantic didn’t turn out as planned, Warren shifted his focus to writing songs for other artists. He played guitar for Greyson Chance and founded a clothing line, Teenage Tycoon. His own music went on the back burner, but Warren says he’s turning up the heat again, working on the next EP.
“I’ve got a lot of songs and I’ve got a lot to say. I write about life and what people are going through,” Warren says. “I’ve gone from playing in my living room to playing a huge festivals, getting signed to getting dropped. I feel like I know who I am now.”
– Mary Colurso