It would be easy to write off Todd Michael Schultz as just another musician riding the coattails of others to fame. The son of Emmy Award-winning producer Bill Schultz and boyfriend of novelist Bret Easton Ellis, it could be deemed that his connections, and not talent, have led to his musical successes.
This is most certainly not the case however one quickly learns once speaking with Schultz. Hard working and steadfastly committed to being the best at what he does it is clear the 25-year-old is just at the beginning of what no doubt will be a very, very long career.
Read our interview with the talented, and very frank, Schultz below and then check out his video for “You Believed In Me.”
Can you give us a little background on your life, growing up, when you first became interested in music.
I’m 25 now. I was born and raised in Los Angeles, which is where I live now (I spent 5 or so years at The University of Iowa getting a degree in English). My earliest interests in music came when I was perhaps 3 or 4. My father had this great upright piano (I wonder where that piano is now?) and he used to play all the time. I remember feeling music very viscerally and intellectualizing melodies, or perhaps imagining stories to go with his piano playing, which was a lot of improvisation.
What was the first career or profession you ever dreamed of having?
I think it was a doctor or a comedian. I guess at that time I never imagined music as a career. I was writing songs at 4. I read an interview where Miley Cyrus talks about having written her first song at 11 or something, and she called it “Pink” because pink was her favorite color. I wasn’t writing songs like that. I wasn’t writing about anything. I was creating melodies. I was trying to make the songs I heard on the radio in the car with my mom. I might be digressing a bit, but I will say that the reason I didn’t share these songs with people because I figured it would make me appear like “a homo.” That’s not something I say, ever, and I say it now. I was gay at 4 years old, and even then I knew it was something I had to hide. I didn’t share my music with my family because they never really encouraged me to do music. Not only did I hide my sexuality until I was 17, but I hid my musicality, too. I hid them in the same way. I associated them. I don’t now. But Hindsight is 20/20, right?
Do you think growing up around the industry made it harder or easier to make your way and distinguish yourself in the music field?
This is a much more complicated question, and I imagine discussing it might sound something like a therapy session. My dad discouraged me from pursuing music as a career, saying it was something like winning the lottery. I’m a good songwriter, but I think I have a lot more work to do to distinguish myself musically. Studio time doesn’t come cheap.
Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
Ideally, I’ll have at least one charted song (Billboard) with me as an artist, and have written two dozen more theme songs. In 2007, I got the opportunity of a lifetime from one of my biggest supporters, Mike Young. I wrote the international theme for SamSam. He let me write the entire song. He gave me a taste of success. When I was bent on being a novelist at 17, I told myself that one of my dreams was to be translated into several languages. Thanks to Mike, I achieved that goal before the age of 21. Sam Sam is sung in Spanish, Danish, Czech, Italian and more languages. I didn’t make a fortune by any means off the song, but it was the first step into converting my music into my job. I actually co-wrote two new theme songs with my father and Jaco Caraco, who plays for Miley Cyrus. One is for Rob Dyrdek’s new cartoon on Nicktoons, called Wild Grinders, and the other is for a show that will come out next year called Teenage Fairytale Dropouts.
Short answer: Writing cartoon themes.
Where do you want to take your music and composing, dream jobs and experiences? Film? Theater?
I want to complete a musical I started last year. It’s a political satire inspired by Rocky Horror. I literally wrote 14 songs in the week after seeing Rocky Horror. That musical is a HUGE moment in music history. I’m also working on screenwriting. I’ve got a script I’m sending out to producers called Victoria Blake. It’s about what happens behind the scenes in Hollywood. I’ve been privileged to have a boyfriend who’s got a ton of notoriety so I’ve been to a lot of what you might call “red carpet events.”
Who are your dream collaborators?
Where does most of the inspiration for your songs come from?
Pain and strife. Love and hate. Sex and drugs.
What is your songwriting process? Is it quick or long and labored?
It’s pretty quick. For example, the theme song for Teenage Fairytale Dropouts I wrote in a 2 hour session. An hour after that we pretty much had the green light that our song would be used.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
I don’t think of myself as a singer. I think of myself as a songwriter first, and an artist second. But, if I weren’t doing music, I’d just be writing for T.V. and film, I guess. I guess there is something toxic about growing up in Los Angeles. It’s a revolving door of egos. I think it wasn’t until I was in college in Iowa that I realized not everyone wants to be famous. Haha.
Who are you favorite lyricists?
Fountains of Wayne, I discovered recently. YOU HAVE TO BUY THEIR ALBUM: Sky Full Of Holes.
Fountains of Wayne sang “Stacey’s Mom,” so some people may think of them as a novelty band, but they are anything but. I think this album, that I’ve been listening to the past couple of days contains my favorite lyrics of the moment. If I could suggest one song to listen to it would be: “Hate To See You Like This.” It’s a vivid description of a girl who’s depressed. Listen to it, it speaks for itself.