Los Angeles.

Toby Gad barely spoke German for over two decades, but now the Munich native is able to speak his native language quite easily again.

“I had to retake my German. I’ve read a few books out loud and my mouth hurts,” Gad said with a smile. “It’s a lot more mouthfeel than American pronunciation.” Gad laughs a lot in the Zoom interview with the German Press Agency. The 53-year-old music producer sits in his Los Angeles studio, overlooking the countryside. Swimming pool, palm trees, hammock in front of the window.

Back home

The offer to become a juror on the RTL casting show “Deutschland sucht den Superstar” (DSDS) alongside pop star Florian Silbereisen and singer Ilse DeLange now brings Gad back to his homeland. The 19th season was taped in Germany last summer and the talent show is now airing. Saturday night’s first issue was watched by 2.65 million people, significantly less than in previous years.

Gad looks back on 21 eventful years during which he realized a dream in New York and Los Angeles. He wrote the hit ‘Big Girls Don’t Cry’ with Fergie, produced ‘If I Were A Boy’ with Beyoncé and created the hit ballad ‘All Of Me’ with John Legend. Recordings with Madonna, Selena Gomez, Miley Cyrus or Demi Lovato, invitations to Grammy parties, music trophies – Gad himself has become a star of the American music scene.

write an autobiography

But the path was difficult. In the beginning, he earned almost nothing. “The first three years, you just have to persevere and work very hard and don’t expect anything at the beginning”, recalls the songwriter and producer.

A cheap apartment with mold on the walls, a tight budget, noodles and soup, a door-to-door cleaning every day looking for young talent and studios who want to work with him – it’s is what Gad describes in his autobiography “All of Me”, which was published on Tuesday (25.1.) appears in Germany.

In any case, the son of a Dane and a German mother brought with him musical abilities. Very young, he played in a band with his older brother and learned to play the piano and the guitar. By the age of 20 he was working for successful producer Frank Farian and writing songs for a Milli Vanilli album.

With then-unknown Fergie, Gad wrote the song “Big Girls Don’t Cry” in New York in 2002, but the song wasn’t released until five years later – and became a hit. It takes perseverance and patience in the industry, says Gad. “The music industry is almost always a bummer, 99% turn down, but something always worked,” he says with a wink.

In 2009, Gad moved to Los Angeles with his Chinese-born wife and two daughters. This is where his career finally took off. Of course, we’re nervous about meeting big stars to record, admits Gad. “It’s a bit like speed dating, because we don’t know them before and then we spend a few hours together.” He always prepared well, learned a lot about artists and what was happening in their lives. “The point is actually that you can improvise together and have fun together and let the music come out of you.”

Word battle with Madonna

Things didn’t go so well with superstar Madonna at first. “It took time and also required arguments,” Gad says of a longer recording in 2014. There was a real war of words when he urged Madonna to redo a song, saying ” You can do it better.” described in his book.

“Madonna started to respect me. From then on, she also took an interest in my opinion and appreciated my honesty. […] From then on I was called, jokingly, something like your German dictator. Gad writes that he experienced Madonna as a “warm” person. He and his wife were also invited by the singer to his birthday party at a chateau in France.

Gad has many success stories but also talks about missed opportunities when he failed to recognize and turn down young talent. “Taylor Swift, 13, was in the studio with me and Katy Perry, after she lost her second recording contract and was so devastated, I could have started with him,” the producer explains.

music as a drug

He is also critical of himself. Sometimes work completely determined his life, music was like a drug. His family often had to hold back, he writes in “All of Me”. A few years ago, Gad braked. Now he produces far fewer songs, but devotes himself to other hobbies and projects. He lives with his family on the edge of the Hollywood Hills, close to nature. He hikes and surfs and is active in environmental protection with his wife.

His heart project is the protection of endangered orangutans on the island of Borneo. Gad is currently making a film about Canadian primate researcher Biruté Galdikas and her organization Orangutan Foundation International.

Gad describes his new role as a DSDS juror as a “beautiful experience” that he would like to continue for many years. In principle, it’s like him in the recording studio, where the artists present themselves with their songs – “except that ‘DSDS’ is in German”, laughs Gad. He would like to inspire others to believe and work on their dreams. “It’s worth fighting and trying,” says Gad – from experience. (dpa)