Philip Cornish is a master pianist whose musical alchemy has been heard everywhere from Coco Jones’ “Double Back” to Kim Kardashian’s living room, and even on unreleased songs by several big-name artists.
“I truly felt like [Mary J. Blige and I] were going to make a hit that night. I thought the song we made was dope. The song didn’t even make the album,” Cornish told REVOLT. “Every album has a story that is being told, and sometimes, the song may just not fit the flow or the direction of the album.”
In this installment of “Studio Sessions,” the Grammy Award-winning musician explains how Coco Jones likes to make music, how Kanye West operates on a different planet and the R&B megastars he has unreleased music with.
Who was the first R&B/Hip Hop artist you worked with in the studio who made you feel like you made it?
Probably Musiq Soulchild in 2011. For my generation, he was a gamechanger. I got the opportunity to work on his album MusiqInTheMagiq. We locked in for multiple days so I could see his creative process. Musiq is very hands-on. He writes, he sings, and he produces a little bit, so he has a lot of input into where he feels songs should go. That was unique. I was impressed by that because he doesn’t play an instrument. So, for him to be as educated and informed on different layers and aspects of making a song was very impressive. He was able to communicate exactly what he was hearing without having the ability to play an instrument.
Who else has impressed you in the studio?
I would say Kanye [West]. I worked with him well after he was already the Kanye we know, but I caught glimpses of how he would pull out the ASR and chop up a song. As far as him having an idea, I spent almost three years with Kanye. So, I’ve seen him in every creative aspect. He’s another rare talent as far as having an ear for something that’s not there. He’ll say an idea, and you’re like, “What the h**l is that?” And then when it comes together, you’re like, “How the h**l did you think of that?” There are a lot of those moments with someone like Kanye. He likes to say he’s operating on a different planet.
We were working on the Sunday Service stuff, trying to come up with a particular part, and he suggested we mute all the music and just have the baseline going, and then just have the singing over the baseline for an extended period of time. It didn’t really make any sense because it came in the middle of the song when all the music was playing. I would never think to drop the music and have a lot of vocals over just a baseline. When he did it, it shifted the entire feeling of the whole song.
Speaking of Kanye, I saw you were recently in the studio with some of his mentees: Hit-Boy and London On Da Track. What was going on there?
We were working on some ideas. I’ve been working with London for a little bit over a year now. That’s been going well. I had the chance to collaborate with Hit-Boy on the King’s Disease III album. They had never worked together before. They ran into each other at Lil Wayne and 2 Chainz’s album release party and decided to hit the studio that night. It was like watching KD and LeBron work out. They complemented each other, two high-level music producers. It was very, very, very, very cool.
You produced “Double Back” off Coco Jones’s album What I Didn’t Tell You. How did you two connect?
Originally, Coco just randomly popped up at the studio session with this producer named J. White before she was signed. She came by for some advice and input on pursuing a singing career. He gave her some advice. That’s where we originally met. Someone else there helped her secure her deal. After her deal was done, he reached out to me again, saying, “Hey, I want to bring you in to work with Coco. I just signed her to Def Jam.” I actually brought her to London, and that’s how we ended up doing “Double Back.” Coco is a very talented force. Her work ethic is second to none. She takes her craft very seriously.
What’s her vibe like in the studio? What does Coco Jones need to make her best music?
She’s very laid back. She’s really down to earth. She doesn’t like anything forced. It should come easy, and if it doesn’t come easy, and it’s not happening the way it should happen, then we just start a new idea.
You had your first child in late 2021. Were there any sessions or artists you worked with during that pregnancy that forced you to choose between the two?
Not for my first son. She’s pregnant now and is actually due right around the same weekend as the Grammys. Her water might break on the red carpet.
What is the most memorable session you’ve been in?
Probably with Mary J. Blige. I truly felt like we were going to make a hit that night. I thought the song we made was dope. The song didn’t even make the album. That shows you can never get too married to something; all you can do is make the best music. The vibes in the session were incredible. But, to be honest, these artists record a lot of songs, and each song takes on a life of its own. Every album has a story that is being told, and sometimes, the song may just not fit the flow or the direction of the album.
What other artist do you have unreleased records with?
Shenseea has some really amazing material. When her album comes out, you’ll remember I told you she has some really, really amazing songs. She’s sitting on some great records. So are Rihanna and Beyoncé. Hopefully, the songs I was a part of will be in the final tracklist. The same is true for SZA. I have a long list of artists with whom I have unreleased music.
You’ve been in the studio with Rihanna?
Not inside the studio with her. I was in the studio with Ne-Yo, who’s writing for Rihanna. Beyoncé has writing camps just for her that she’s a part of. But, you won’t see her unless she cuts a record. SZA is right there for all of it. Once you become the Beyoncé and Rihannas of the world, and they’re running billion-dollar companies outside of music, they’re busy.
What do you have planned for 2024?
I’m going to be doing more producing and more touring. Hopefully, I can get some TV opportunities. A goal for me still is to have my big No. 1 record.