From the very beginning it was evident that music would be in Toby Gad’s blood. He was born in Munich, Germany in 1968, the son of two established musicians and members of “The Jazz Kids”. His Danish father, Christian Gad, was a clarinetist and aircraft test pilot by profession while his mother, Gaby Gad, was a piano player and aspiring psycho-therapist.
At the age of four Toby was expected to take up the banjo and become a member of his parents’ band. However he instead took to his mother’s piano, and soon formed his own band with his older brother Jens Gad at just seven years old. They went by the “Gad Rollers”, and played original rock’n’roll compositions during the intermissions for their parents’ performances.It wasn’t long before the duo gained some local momentum, and through radio and TV appearances were eventually discovered by Gunther Mende, the hit-producer behind Celine Dion’s “Power of Love”. Mende enthusiastically offered the brothers a record deal, but their parents refused, citing the boys’ education as a top priority.
Undeterred, the Gad brothers continued to form various bands and seize every opportunity to showcase their compositions on stage. At the age of 13, Toby and Jens could be found playing weekly gigs in various Munich bars, open-air summer festival concerts and shows in legendary live clubs such as “The Domicile”. It was this activity that caught the attention of Munich-based hit producer Tony Monn, who took a strong interest in the brothers’ careers and offered to let them use his state-of-the-art recording studio whenever he was out of town. Access to Monn’s world-class studio gave Toby and Jens the opportunity to spend endless days and nights writing and recording material that would become their first three record releases.
In 1986 Frank Farian, at the time Germany’s most successful producer (No Mercy, Boney M, Milli Vanilli), first came across Toby and Jens thanks to a referral from a mutual friend. Farian immediately flew the boys to Frankfurt, and just one week later the Gad brothers found three of their songs on Milli Vanilli’s debut album (which would later be certified multi-platinum). This was the beginning of an extremely successful seven-year collaboration with Frank.
Drawn to the young men’s potential as artists, Farian produced Toby and Jens’ first album, “Q”, which was followed by a live tour. Funk legend George Clinton liked the record so much that he spent a full day jamming with the brothers, and later invited Toby and Jens to perform two songs on stage with him and his P-funk band.
After a successful tour with his brother, Toby’s path crossed with the exotic Mauritian singer Jacqueline Nemorin in 1990. The duo immediately bonded, and Toby went on to co-produce Nemorin’s first album “The Creole Dance” with Farian for BMG. This was the first of many collaborations Toby and Jacqueline would undertake over the next 10 years.
In 1994 Toby’s team expanded yet again with the addition of manager Klaus Frers (Daydream Music Supervizing). After producing Nemorin’s second album for EMI Europe, Klaus’ guidance helped push the duo into music production for dozens of successful TV shows, commercials and movie soundtracks.During this time Toby and Jacqueline wrote and produced the title song for the film “Neverending Story III”, themes for multiple daily talk shows and the single “The Magic of the Fall”, which went on to win the BDA Gold Award in LA for best TV Trailer Concept.
After a long stint of successes in music for film and TV, Toby and Jacqueline chose to return their focus to records. Shortly thereafter in 1998 Toby was hired by Spanish producer Rafael Perez to work on Enrique Iglesias’ third album, “Cosas Del Amor”, which would later be certified RIAA Gold. That same year Toby also signed a deal with Joost Van Os (former head of Polygram) and Sony ATV, which would lead to songs on the albums of Ruth Jacott (Gold), Oli P (Gold), and Nino de Angelo (Top 30).
After this string of successes in his home country, Toby began to grow restless and anxious for an international breakthrough. Having spent a great deal of time in London with his mother and in US producing countless records, the options were plentiful but the decision was simple. In December of 2000 Toby packed his recording studio into a cargo container and set out for New York. Draw to its energy and excitement, Toby arrived in the Big Apple and immediately opened his “Strawberrybee Studios” in Midtown Manhattan, seeking out fresh collaborations with new artists, writers and contacts.
The first two years in New York proved to be a dire test of Toby’s perseverance. After writing over 200 songs with various US artists and writers only one of them was placed on a major record (“Unspoken” by Jacqui Velasquez). With his publishing deal expiring and two new #1 hits overseas the cards seemed stacked against his stay in America, but Toby refused to give up.
With his career seemingly in jeopardy, Toby spent months frantically taking meetings with major labels, publishers, and music law firms. As one meeting after the next ended with less than promising results, Toby’s options seemed fewer and further between.. until he met David Sonenberg. Manager for chart-shattering acts such as The Fugees, the Black Eyed Peas and Natasha Bedingfield, Sonenberg immediately sensed similar potential in Toby and offered to be his exclusive manager.
With the help of his newfound management, Toby achieved his first #1 US Single in 2006 with “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, a song he co-wrote with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. The song reached #1 and stayed there for an incredible 21 weeks, a record breaking stint that earned the song a Grammy nomination and ASCAP Song of the Year award on two separate occasions. The song would later go on to be the 13th most played song in the decade, and in the top 100 of all time.
Just one year later Toby found multi-platinum success yet again with the Australian rock duo The Veronicas. Toby co-wrote and produced 9 songs on their platinum release “Hook Me Up”, including the #1 single “Untouched”. Without a moment’s respite Toby continued to write and produce, and his dedication was rewarded yet again in 2008 with another #1 US Single, “If I Were a Boy”, recorded by Beyonce. The song shot to the top of the charts in over 10 countries and shortly thereafter went double platinum, resulting in Toby’s first Grammy Award win.
With Toby’s meteoric rise to notoriety also came a desire to expand his role in the music business. In 2009 he co-founded a record label, Kite Records, with his long-time managers David Sonenberg and William Derella. Their first signing, Jessica Jarrell, put out a debut record produced by Toby through Island Def Jam and immediately thereafter went on a 50 date US Tour with teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber. Kite Records would go on to sign the young Australian sensation Jordan Jansen, Santa Monica busker-turned-major label artist Chelsea Williams (Kite/Interscope) and New York-basedSusan Justice (Capitol/EMI).
In the midst of hit records and founding a label, Toby also managed to find time for a date with Li Fan, who lived in New York and served as a translator for foreign dignitaries in the United Nations. The two immediately bonded, and before long said their vows and were wed in the Big Apple. After some time spent in the city it became apparent that the music business and next chapter of their lives seemed to be in Los Angeles, so with careful consideration they relocated to California in summer of 2009.
With Strawberrybee Studios a remnant of his New York past, Toby set up a new studio in Los Angeles and dubbed it “Kite Music Productions”. Seated in the hills above city, this new studio would become the birthplace of many more records and home to a whole new set of artists and collaborators.
One of these new artists was Selena Gomez, with whom Toby recorded their hit “Year Without Rain”. The song was chosen as the lead single and title track for her record, which went Gold in the US and hit #1 on the Billboard Dance/Club charts. The hit with Selena was followed by a collaboration with the phenomenal Demi Lovato, whose heartfelt performance on Toby’s “Skyscraper” racked in yet another #1 single and multi-platinum certification. Additional LA-based collaborations have included Jessi J on her Platinum-certified record “Who You Are”, Kelly Clarkson on her Gold-certified record “Stronger”, Colbie Caillat’s hit single “I Do”, the UK smash “Love You More” with JLS, and Nicole Scherzinger’s #1 hit “Don’t Hold Your Breath” (see “News” for more recent projects).
In addition to a new era of success in the music business, the move to Los Angeles also presented itself as a new era of family. Shortly after first coming to LA, Li and Toby chose to adopt their first daughter, Melodie. In keeping with the Chinese proverb “Good things come in pairs”, they then had their second daughter, Mae Mae, a year later. To this day, when he isn’t working in sessions or at meetings with colleagues chances are good Toby is spending time with his family in their Studio City home.
With many more amazing projects and events on the horizon, there is no doubt that much of Toby’s biography has yet to be written. For now suffice it to say that the journey so far has been an amazing one, and he is thrilled for what lies ahead.
First of all I want to honor my grandfather, EGON SCHEIBE ( 1908 – 1998). He invented airplanes, sold over a thousand of them worldwide. He is a real legend of aviation history and he is my personal hero. As a young kid, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents and he was always at the drawing board, drafting countless sketches of weird looking contraptions that would eventually fly. He explained me his latest ideas while people around him doubted they would work and months later he would take me on a flight in the real thing…
He was a true visionary and I learned from him that if you have a dream, no matter how many people discourage you, if you know it in your heart and keep at it, you can make it work.
My father CHRISTIAN GAD made his biggest dream come true 4 years ago. After he retired from his work at my granddad’s company as an engineer and a test pilot, he bought a little sail boat called “Nelly” and eversince he spends more time on sea than on land, crossing the Atlantic Ocean three times ( 24 days without land is beyond my imagination…). He has always been a daredevil, but since “Nelly” he is a changed man. I never knew how much I loved him until I moved to America… Papa I miss you!
My mother GABY GAD left the family when I was 7, studied psychology and moved to England. It made me grow up faster and though it left its scars, looking back, even if I could I wouldn’t change a thing. For the past 20 years she lives in London Vauxhall as a spiritual and alternative healer in the once notorious Bonnigton Square and tours the world with her traditional dixiland jazz bands…
One memory I want to share is our Cannes-vacation, when I was 12 years old. Mami brought 100 $ and a guitar for a 10 days vacation ( The plan was to make music on the sidewalk to pay for our basic needs ). The first night we slept in the park near the train station and the guitar got stolen. The next 9 nights we slept on the beach, ate food from fruit market leftovers, and learned what it must be like to be homeless. I thank you for this vacation, it opened my eyes!
My brother JENS GAD … once my worst rival, now my best friend. He is doing his thing, lives on a tiny Spanish island in the Mediterranian Sea and still manages to sell records worldwide. New York and Ibiza couldn’t be more opposite, nor could we, and yet time reveals how much we are alike. We discovered music together as toddlers, moved out of home together, had our first platinum record together and I think without each other’s support, and without all the competition between us, we wouldn’t be where we are now.
A major influence on my career was FRANK FARIAN ( the father of MILLI VANILLI, No Mercy, Boney M…). My brother and I signed to him in 1988 as artists and I left him 7 years later as a producer. I never imagined that someone who has sold over 100 million records, starting out a as a poor cook, would still work 24/7. I remember once when he was sick… I was alone in his studio and he laid there on the couch in the kitchen for two days just because everything inside him said he had to be in the studio… His infallible sense for hits made him Germany’s most successful producer and his drive was contageous.
JACQUELINE NEMORIN spent 10 years with me, almost 24 hours a day, being my artist, co-writer, and co-producer. A decade… I’m glad that we’re still friends after all this and looking back at some 25 record releases on Major labels and 20 TV /movie projects that we had together, I’d say we’ve made quite a bit of noise (-:
After leaving Frank Farian in 1995, KLAUS FRERS got Jacqueline and me a deal at EMI records and for the next 5 years he fed us with countless TV-, Advertising-, Movie-score- and soundtrack-opportunities. As Klaus got our “film music career” to a point where we could have made a fortune every single month, Jacqueline and I went for 7 weeks to Borneo/Indonesia and we choose to make a U-turn and never do score again. I felt I had cheated on myself. My heart really beats for music that is 3 dimensional, music that doesn’t depend on motion pictures, music that has it’s own life, crosses oceans and becomes thescore to everybody’s personal movie. So I started over and aimed for writing singles … actually everything Frank Farian wanted me to do in the first place…
The new focus drove Jacqueline and me deeper and deeper into debts. We had invested in talents that didn’t get record deals, and as we were so broke that neither GEMA, nor the bank would give us any more credit, JOOST VAN OS came as our savior. In 1998 he offered us a 5 year publishing deal with SONY/ATV/CYCLUS. Our main “Sony guy”, GEORG CLAUS, someone we already knew from our “Never Ending Story 3” record, became one of my favorite publishing guys. He speaks his heart and acts on it. He kept pitching songs we wrote years ago until they made it on 4 number one records.
Through my work with WILLA I met DAVID SONENBERG and soon after he proposed to become my manager. I admire people who trust in their instincts, don’t operate fear driven but are driven by the love for music and see the big picture when I get lost in details. David has great intuition and has proven it over the years, selling over 300 million records with “unconventional” acts like Imani Coppola, Wycleff, Joan Osborne, The Spin Doctors, The Fugees, The Black Eyed Peas… I love these records and not too long ago I discovered that the man I work with was involved in all of them. He tells me when a song sucks and it makes me want to write a better song. I need such honest feedback and I am excited about this new work relationship with David, WILLIAM and his wonderful DAS COMMUNICATIONS crew.
If those first 3 years in NYC were like going back to school, then my more than 100 various CO-WRITERS were my teachers. We all share the same dream and live the same crazy life in which all that counts is a simple idea, a moment, a little feeling that can be turned into something powerful enough to move the entire world. Some writers have become great friends and regular collaborators and some are just a-song-in-a-day encounters but I learn from each of them. It really doesn’t matter how experienced a writer is. Some kids I write with can be more inspiring than Grammy winning top writers. Every song is like a journey, sometimes a very personal experience that can feel & heal like therapy. I feel blessed for those intense moments of creation and thankful for being able to share them.
My first room- and soulmate in NYC was WENDY OXENHORN. She is the most charitable and caring person I’ve ever encountered. For many years she was a spokesperson for the homeless in NYC and for the past 5 years she dedicated her life to saving legendary Jazz musicians who can’t afford their medical bills. Her annual charity concert at the Apollo lines up stars like Cassandra Willson, Herbie Hancock ….If you want to donate for a good purpose, consider THE JAZZ FOUNDATION OF AMERICA.
I want to mention one place in New York City that is special to me, with one extraordinary man behind it… THE VILLAGE UNDERGROUND and RON GRAND.
When I first came to NEW YORK, I practically started over. In my first year I wrote 100 songs that every record company turned down. I had to learn my lesson the hard way. The second year after another 100 songs, I began to understand that I can only survive in NYC if I find out who I am, and regardless of all the great music out there, stay true to my inside, do my own thing, do me! The third year, 300 NYC songs and more than 100 co-writers later, I finally saw fruits of my hard work and 2004 looks extremely promising. During this learning experience, THE VILLAGE UNDERGROUND served as my church and my anchor. This joint has the best talents I’ve ever seen, without egos, without all the hype that comes with the Biz. This place gets me inspired, focused, and even more ambitious to pursue what I came here for: MUSIC.
RON GRAND and the unbelievable MELANI DANIELS host the weekly sunday night open mike and I recommend every artist and writer to join in as often as possible, learn from the best and jump into the cold water when you are ready to swim.
The turning points in my career were whenever I said “NO”. Too many times before I said “YES” to offers that payed but weren’t meant for me. I did them with half my heart, the result misrepresented me and got me unfocussed. My father said “NO” to me several times in life when I asked for his support and those were the moments I grew. I realized I could fall bottomless if I didn’t act responsibly and I learned that my word is more powerful than I ever thought.
I saw people having 20 different talents they’d like to turn into professions and doing everything a little bit but nothing 100%. This made me say “NO” to my design & art studies, NO to being a musician on the road, to being an arranger for hire, to being a score writer, NO to continuing living comfortably in Germany… I figured if you focus all your energies on one goal, you’ll eventually get there.