Greg Kurstin

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Greg Kurstin
Kurstin in 2013
Background information
Birth name Gregory Allen Kurstin
Born (1969-05-14) May 14, 1969 (age 46)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Genres Rock, pop, alternative rock
Occupation(s) Producer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist
Instruments Keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, vocals
Associated acts Adele, Lily Allen, Beck, The Bird and the Bee, Kelly Clarkson, Ellie Goulding, Kylie Minogue, P!nk,Tegan & Sara, The Shins, Sia

Gregory Allen "Greg" Kurstin (born May 14, 1969) is an American producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.[1]

In 2014, Kurstin (with Sia Furler and Will Gluck) was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Song for "Opportunity" from Annie.[2] He also received two Grammy nominations in 2014, one for Producer of the Year and one for Record of the Year.[3] He was nominated for his work as a producer in 2009, and[4] won three Ivor Novello awards for his work with Lily Allen, including Songwriter of the Year for the song "The Fear."[5]

Kurstin was nominated for the 2013 Grammy Awards in the Song of the Year and Record of the Year categories for his work on Kelly Clarkson's multi-platinum single "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)". Kurstin was also involved with P!nk's Grammy-nominated album The Truth About Love and Clarkson's album Stronger, which won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2013.[6]

In addition to his work as a songwriter and producer, Kurstin was the keyboardist for the '90s alt-pop trio Geggy Tah and is a member of the indie pop group The Bird and the Bee.

Early life and education[edit]

Kurstin was born and grew up in Los Angeles, California. Kurstin is Jewish.[7] A multi-instrumentalist, he started playing piano at age 5; soon after, he picked up guitar and bass. Kurstin joined his first band at the age of 11, and co-wrote the b-side to classmate Dweezil Zappa's "My Mother is A Space Cadet" at 12.[8]

In high school, Kurstin focused on jazz piano, and after graduating he moved to New York to study with Jaki Byard, Charles Mingus' pianist, at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music.[9] After playing with prominent jazz musicians including Bobby Hutcherson, George Coleman, and Charles McPherson, Kurstin returned to LA and finished his degree at the California School of the Arts.[10]


In Los Angeles, Kurstin continued to perform with Hutcherson, Coleman, and McPherson, among other musicians, and in 1994 teamed with a friend, Tommy Jordan, and recorded a demo under the name Geggy Tah. The tape came to the attention of David Byrne, who signed Jordan and Kurstin to his Luaka Bop label. Geggy Tah had considerable success, which included the 1996 hit single "Whoever You Are," but disbanded after releasing three albums.[8]

Over the following years, Kurstin worked as a session player and touring musician for Beck, Ben Harper and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, among other artists, but eventually decided to focus on his own music.[11] In 2004, Kurstin was introduced to singer Inara George by a mutual friend, Mike Andrews. Then producing George's solo debut, Andrews hired Kurstin as a pianist for the album. Kurstin and George clicked musically in the studio and together they formed The Bird and the Bee (stylized as "the bird and the bee"). Shortly thereafter, they were signed by Blue Note Records chairman Bruce Lundvall;[12] their first EP, Again and Again and Again and Again was released in 2006. In 2007 an eponymous album was released, followed by Please Clap Your Hands (2007), Rayguns Are Not Just the Future (2008), and Interpreting the Masters, Vol. 1, a Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates.[13] Described by Entertainment Weekly as "space-age pop that cunningly combines bossa nova languidity with Beach Boys-style lushness",[14] the bird and the bee was praised by the media and developed a sizable following in the US and abroad.

Kurstin, who earned his first songwriting credit at 12, signed a publishing deal with EMI (now Sony/ATV) in 2002, and worked "day and night, pumping out songs".[11][15] After collaborating on tracks with artists including Sia, Peaches, P!nk, and the Flaming Lips, Kurstin was introduced to Lily Allen; her 2006 debut, Alright, Still which credits Kurstin as a producer, composer, engineer, mixer, and musician, entered the US charts at No. 20 and went on to achieve platinum status.[16] Based in part on his success with Allen, Kurstin's career as a producer and songwriter flourished. Since then he has worked with Ellie Goulding, Foster The People, Tegan & Sara, The Shins, Pink, Kelly Clarkson, Dido, and Katy Perry. He has produced and composed music for each of Allen's three albums, and has worked closely with Sia since 2003. In 2015, Kurstin co-wrote and co-produced "Dreams", the first single from Beck's follow up to the Grammy-winning Morning Phase.[17]

Kurstin scored the 2014 adaptation of the film Annie and served as the soundtrack's executive producer. With Sia, he created new arrangements for the Broadway musical's original tracks "I Think I'm Gonna Like It Here," "You're Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile," and "Little Girls." Additionally, Kurstin and Sia co-wrote several new songs for the film, including "Opportunity", "Who Am I", and "Moonlake Lake" (featuring Beck). Kurstin produced the first single from the soundtrack, "You're Never Dressed Without a Smile (2014 Film Version)" co-written and performed by Sia. It was released in October 2014.[18][19]

Kurstin co-wrote and produced three songs on Adele's 2015 album, 25, including its first single, "Hello." Kurstin also played bass, guitar, drums, piano and keyboards on the track, which reached number one in 28 countries. "Hello" was the first record to exceed 1 million in digital sales over a 7 day period.[20][21]

Selected discography[edit]

Year Album Artist Credit Notes
2006 Alright, Still Lily Allen "Alfie", "Everything's Just Wonderful", "Not Big" Producer, writer, mixer, engineer
2007 The Bird and the Bee The Bird and the Bee Producer, mixer, writer, engineer, musician (entire album)
2008 Circus Britney Spears "Rock Me In" Producer, Co-writer
2009 It's Not Me, It's You Lily Allen "The Fear", "22", "Who'd Have Known", "I Could Say", "F*ck You" Co-wrote and produced entire album; producer, writer, mixer, engineer
Ray Guns Are Not Just the Future The Bird and the Bee Producer, mixer, writer, musician (entire album)
2010 Interpreting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates The Bird and the Bee Producer, mixer, writer, engineer, musician (entire album)
We Are Born Sia "The Co-Dependent", "Stop Trying", "Hurting Me Now", "Bring Night", "Never Gonna Leave Me" Producer (entire album); writer
2011 Stronger Kelly Clarkson "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)", "Dark Side, "Honestly" Producer, writer "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You"); producer, engineer ("Dark Side", "Honestly")
Torches Foster the People "Warrant, "Helena Beat", "Miss You", "Waste" Producer, engineer ("Warrant"); producer, mixer, engineer; ("Helena Beat", "Miss You", "Waste")
2012 Greatest Hits • Chapter One Kelly Clarkson "Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)", "People Like Us" Producer, writer, engineer ("Stronger (What Doesn't Kill You)"); producer, engineer; ("People Like Us")
The Truth About Love P!nk "How Come You're Not Here","Timebomb", "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)", "True Love", "Walk of Shame", "Try" Producer, writer, engineer ("How Come You're Not Here", "Timebomb" (iTunes version); "Blow Me (One Last Kiss)"); producer, writer, mixer and engineer ("True Love", "Walk of Shame"); producer, mixer, engineer; ("Try")
Port of Morrow The Shins "Simple Song", "It's Only Life" Producer (entire album); engineer, producer ("Simple Song" and "It's Only Life")
2013 H&M commercial Beyoncé "Standing on the Sun" Co-writer (with Sia Furler), producer
Wrapped in Red Kelly Clarkson "Underneath the Tree", "4 Carats" Producer (entire album), writer, engineer
Halcyon Days Ellie Goulding "Burn", "Goodness Gracious" Producer, writer
Prism Katy Perry "Double Rainbow", "Spiritual" Producer, writer, engineer
Girl Who Got Away Dido "End of Night", "Let's Runaway" , "Happy New Year" Producer, writer
Heartthrob Tegan & Sara "Closer", "I Was A Fool", "Goodbye, Goodbye", "I'm Not Your Hero", "I Couldn't Be Your Friend", "Love They Say", "Shock To Your System", "Now I'm All Messed Up" Writer, producer, engineer ("Closer"), producer, engineer ("I Was A Fool", "Goodbye, Goodbye", "I'm Not Your Hero", "I Couldn't Be Your Friend", "Love They Say", "Shock To Your System"); producer, mixer, engineer ("Now I'm All Messed Up")
2014 Sheezus Lily Allen "L8 CMMR" "Hard Out Here" "Our Time" "Insincerely Yours" "Take My Place" "As Long As I Got You" "Close Your Eyes" "URL Badman" "Silver Spoon" "Life For Me" Producer, writer
Supermodel Foster the People "Are You What You Want to Be?", "Ask Yourself" Writer
I Never Learn Lykke Li "Gunshot" "Sleeping Alone" "Silver Line" Co-writer ("Silver Line"), producer, writer
Ultraviolence Lana Del Rey "Money, Power, Glory" Producer, writer, mixer
1000 Forms of Fear Sia "Chandelier" "Big Girls Cry" "Burn the Pages" "Eye of the Needle" "Hostage" "Straight for the Knife" "Fair Game" "Elastic Heart" "Free the Animal" "Fire Meet Gasoline" "Cellophane" "Dressed in Black" Producer (entire album), co-writer ("Fair Game" "Big Girls Cry" "Free the Animal" "Fire Meet Gasoline" "Cellophane" "Dressed in Black")
Kings & Queens of the Underground" Billy Idol "Can't Break Me Down", "Save Me Now" Producer, writer
2015 Piece by Piece Kelly Clarkson "Heartbeat Song" "Someone" "Piece by Piece" "I Had a Dream" "Let Your Tears Fall" "Tightrope" "Dance with Me" "Bad Reputation" Producer, writer
25 Adele "Hello", "Water Under The Bridge", "Million Years Ago" Producer, co-writer
Dreams Beck "Dreams" Co-writer, co-producer, instrumentalist
2016 "This Is Acting" Sia "Bird Set Free", "Move Your Body", "Cheap Thrills", "Sweet Design" Producer, co-writer

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • 2009, Grammy nomination, Producer of the Year, non-classical
  • 2010, Ivor Novello award, Songwriter of the Year, with Lilly Allen
  • 2010, Ivor Novello award, Best Song, with Lilly Allen, for "Fear"
  • 2010, Ivor Novello award, Most Performed Work, with Lilly Allen, for "Fear"
  • 2012, Grammy nomination, Song of the Year as songwriter for "Stronger (Whatever Doesn't Kill You)" (Kelly Clarkson)
  • 2012, Grammy nomination, Record of the Year, as producer for "Stronger (Whatever Doesn't Kill You)" (Kelly Clarkson)
  • 2014, Golden Globe nomination for Best Original Song for "Opportunity" from Annie
  • 2014, Grammy nomination, Record of the Year as producer for "Chandelier" (Sia)
  • 2014, Grammy nomination, Producer of the Year, non-classical


  1. ^ "Greg Kurstin at All Music". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  2. ^ "Full List of Golden Globe Nominees". Eonline. Retrieved 12 December 2014. 
  3. ^ "57th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees". Retrieved 9 December 2014. 
  4. ^ Roberts, Randall. "The LA Weekly on The 2009 Grammy Nominations". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  5. ^ "Ivor Novello Award Winners". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Full List of 2013 Grammy Nominees, via". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  7. ^ Bloom, Nate (20 December 2013). "Jewish writers of Christmas songs". New Jersey Jewish Standard. Retrieved 30 October 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Wood, Mikael. "Greg Kurstin is an in-demand songwriter-producer – and not crazy". December 4, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ "New School Press Release, 2008". Retrieved February 3, 2013. 
  10. ^ Harcourt, Nic. "Greg Kurstin: Turn It Up". July 2009. Los Angeles Times Magazine. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  11. ^ a b Unterberger, Andrew. "From Geggy Tah to the Grammys: The Wild Ride of "Pop Impersario" Greg Kurstin". February 8, 2013. Pop Dust. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  12. ^ Chinen, Nate. "At 70, a Legendary Jazz Label Asks, 'Now What?'". February 6, 2009. New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  13. ^ "bird and the bee at AllMusic". 2013. AllMusic. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  14. ^ Endelman, Michael. "the bird and the bee". January 19, 2007. Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  15. ^ "Greg Kurstin extends global publishing agreement with EMI Music Publishing". May 11, 2010. EMI Music Publishing. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ "Pictures of Lily". Billboard. January 2, 2007. Retrieved December 23, 2013. 
  17. ^ Reed, Ryan (June 15, 2015). "Beck Looks to Dance Floor With Funky New Song, 'Dreams'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 17 June 2015. 
  18. ^ Rigby, Sam. "Sia and Beck Join Stars on Annie Movie Soundtrack". Digital Spy. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  19. ^ Via RocNation. "ANNIE Soundtrack Press Release". Nuke The Fridge. Retrieved November 3, 2014. 
  20. ^ "Radio on Adele's 'Hello': 'She Can Make You Feel What She Feels'". Billboard. 
  21. ^ Searjeant, Jill (November 2, 2015). "Adele's 'Hello' breaks 1 million digital sales in record". Reuters. Reuters. Retrieved 2 January 2016.