Stargate is a record producing and songwriting team composed of Tor E. Hermansen (born 14 October 1972) and Mikkel S. Eriksen (born 10 December 1972), based in Los Angeles, USA. The team's genres include R&B, pop and hip hop. Stargate was established in Trondheim, Norway.
Stargate broke into the US recording industry in 2001, with the release of "One Night Stand", by British multi-platinum girl group Mis-Teeq, which peaked within the Top 5 of the Billboard Dance Charts. Stargate and Mis-Teeq had further US chart success together, with the release of "Scandalous". It charted at number 2 on the Billboard Dance Charts, No.11 on the Mainstream Top 40 and number 35 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 2006, Stargate had their first Hot 100 number 1 single, "So Sick", produced and co-written by the team and performed by Ne-Yo. They have since had 10 songs go to number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. They also produced and co-wrote Beyoncé's worldwide hit single "Irreplaceable", which topped the Billboard Hot 100 for 10 consecutive weeks and "Firework" for Katy Perry. Throughout their career they have been noted for their extensive work with Rihanna, being responsible for writing and producing "Don't Stop The Music", "Rude Boy", "Only Girl (In The World)", "What's My Name?", "S&M", and "Diamonds", all of which were significant successes.
Formation and early works
Stargate started in 1996 as a songwriting trio in Trondheim, Norway, consisting of Tor Erik Hermansen, Mikkel Storleer Eriksen, and Hallgeir Rustan (born 11 April 1966). When they first met, Hermansen was a talent scout for the Norwegian branch of the record label Warner Music Group, Eriksen owned a studio, and Rustan was a mechanical engineer before becoming involved in music. One of their first successful productions was with Norwegian R&B singer Noora Noor. Her first album "Curious" was produced in their Trondheim studio. Noora Noor was signed to the Norwegian branch of the record label Warner Music Group. "Need You", her main hit from this album, was released throughout Europe and gave Stargate attention from the British music industry. While in Norway, they ventured into the British market, mostly writing songs for R&B-pop performers. At this time they called the team Stargate, a name specifically established for their projects in the United Kingdom.
The team's initial successes was in the British market. Stargate's first international success came with British pop outfit S Club 7, whose 1999 single "S Club Party" reached No. 2 in Australia and No. 1 in New Zealand. This success was followed with another British pop group, Hear'Say's single "The Way to Your Love", which peaked at No. 1 in the United Kingdom in 2001. The team has also produced many Top 10 hits in the United Kingdom for acts such as Blue, Mis-Teeq and Atomic Kitten, and worked with European acts Javine, Shola Ama, Five, and Samantha Mumba.
The team had been listening to US hits and "trying to measure up". They remixed US hip-hop and R&B songs, adding layers of melody to suit the European radio audience. In the wake of their early successes, the team had to choose whether to remain in Norway or move to pursue their goals: "We knew that to make the records we really wanted to make, we had to go to America." Hermansen and Eriksen chose to produce records in the US, while Rustan preferred to remain a producer in Norway because he did not want to leave his family behind.
In 2001, Stargate produced and co-wrote songs for US pop singer Mikaila's self-titled debut album. "So in Love With Two", a track from the album, had reached No. 25 on the US Billboard Hot 100, becoming one of the team's earliest co-written singles that appeared on the US charts. It was followed three years later with Mis-Teeq's "Scandalous", which peaked at No. 35 on the Hot 100 and No. 2 in the United Kingdom.
In the spring of 2005, Eriksen and Hermansen settled in New York. Initially, their work was slow until they met singer-songwriter Ne-Yo in a hallway at Sony Music Studios in New York. Ne-Yo, who had been working on his debut album, In My Own Words, decided to collaborate with the team, aware that Stargate produced R&B records. After listening to each other's music, a songwriting session ensued and spawned in its second day. The song "So Sick", which later topped the Billboard Hot 100 and ushered Stargate into US pop songwriting.
Stargate and Ne-Yo collaborated on the hit single "Unfaithful" for Barbadian singer Rihanna's 2006 album A Girl Like Me. In the same year, Stargate again collaborated with Ne-Yo for the single "Irreplaceable", recorded by US singer Beyoncé. The single topped the Billboard Hot 100 for ten consecutive weeks in 2006–07. Also in 2006, Stargate and Taj Jackson gave US singer-songwriter Lionel Richie with "I Call It Love" his first R&B hit in 10 years.
With the team's contributions to music, Stargate emerged as the No. 1 hot producer on the 2006 Billboard Year End Chart. In the following year, Stargate received a Spellemann (a Norwegian equivalent of the Grammys). The team received three awards at the ASCAP Pop Music Awards 2007 in Los Angeles, for the songs "So Sick", "Sexy Love" and "Unfaithful"; and two awards at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Awards 2007 for "So Sick" and "Sexy Love". They were named Songwriters of the Year at the 2007 ASCAP/PRS in London, receiving nine awards including Song of the Year for "So Sick".
In 2007, "Beautiful Liar", a duet between Knowles and Colombian singer Shakira, became another hit for Stargate, reaching No. 1 in more than 30 countries including the United Kingdom. The song earned Hermansen and Eriksen the Ivor Novello Award for Best-Selling British song. Although "Beautiful Liar" is chiefly a US song, it includes British songwriters Amanda Ghost and Ian Dench, thus eligible for the award.
At the 2008 ASCAP Pop Music Awards, Hermansen and Eriksen received five awards for most performed songs, including "Irreplaceable" among the top five. Stargate was named Best Hitmakers in Rolling Stone magazine's "Best of Rock 2008". Eriksen and Hermansen received Grammy nominations for five separate songs in six categories for the 2008 Grammy Awards, including Record of the Year for "Irreplaceable", Best R&B Song for "Hate That I Love You" and Best Dance Record for "Don't Stop the Music".
On Ne-Yo's third solo album, Year of the Gentleman, Stargate produced and co-wrote four songs, among them the singles "Closer" and "Miss Independent", the latter of which had reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs. Stargate received nominations in more than 10 categories for the 2009 Grammy Awards. They won their first Grammy in 2009 in the Best R&B Song category for "Miss Independent", performed by Ne-Yo.
Stargate produced "Black and Yellow" for US hip-hop rapper Wiz Khalifa in 2010, a song that reached No. 1 in the Billboard U.S. Charts, and Sean Kingston's "Letting Go". They produced five No. 1 singles for Barbadian recording artist Rihanna namely "Rude Boy", "Only Girl (In the World)", "What's My Name?", "S&M", and "Diamonds". Stargate co-wrote and co-produced Owl City's single "Shooting Star" which was released on the Shooting Star EP on 15 May 2012.
In 2013, the song "Almost Home" co-produced and interpreted by Mariah Carey for the Walt Disney Pictures' film Oz the Great and Powerful, won the 2013 World Music Awards for the World's Best Video.
As a favour, Stargate also produced the song "The Fox (What Does the Fox Say?)" for Norwegian duo Ylvis. The song was intended as a joke in Ylvis's Norwegian talk show but became an unexpected viral hit with over 900 million views as of December 2019. The video was produced in return for the Ylvis brothers portraying the Stargate duo in a mockumenary.
In 2015, Stargate produced and co-wrote Coldplay's smash single "Adventure of a Lifetime."
Stargate teamed-up with US hip-hop mogul Jay-Z to launch the record label StarRoc. The label, which is based at Jay-Z's Roc The Mic studio in Manhattan, will be a 50/50 partnership with the team and Jay-Z's entertainment company Roc Nation. Eriksen and Hermansen's connection with Jay-Z, who was then the CEO of the record label Def Jam, began with the release of "So Sick". They met through Tyran "Ty Ty" Smith, A&R from record label Def Jam and a long-time friend of Jay-Z. The label released one album, the self-titled release from Alexis Jordan in 2011. As of 2016, the website's registration has expired. No posts have been made on the label's Instagram account since mid-2013 and its Twitter postings ceased in March 2014. The current status of the label is unknown.
In addition to their new venture, Eriksen signed a global co-publishing deal with EMI Music Publishing. According to Music Week, his relationship with EMI will further the publishing company's involvement on Stargate's future projects. Prior to the deal, EMI has been involved with Hermansen's projects for nearly ten years since he signed a deal in 1999. Hermansen and Eriksen will also continue their joint-venture partnership, Stellar Songs, with EMI.
In 2021, Eriksen and Hermansen launched the Los Angeles Academy for Artists and Music Production (LAAMP), a year long intensive music programme for 45 writers, artists and producers. The programme features mentoring from Ne-Yo, Charli XCX, JetsonMade, Emily Warren and John Cunningham. Jeff Rabhan Chairman of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, joined the programme as executive director.
Mikkel Eriksen owns part of the Norwegian clothing firm JohnnyLove which they are trying to introduce to the US market. On the US launch party in New York on 12 October 2011 Jay-Z came to show his support and explained to the reporter that he was "a little bit Norwegian, as I am sure you know".
Tor Erik Hermansen owns one third of the award-winning Norwegian St. Lars restaurant in Oslo together with international TV-chef Andreas Viestad and Face2Face-founder Per Meland. Queen Sonja of Norway and the former Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg are regular guests. The owners have tried to bring some of the ambience from the New York-restaurant The Spotted Pig, owned by Stargate's StarRoc-partner Jay-Z, to the restaurant.
Influences and style
Hermansen and Eriksen grew up as R&B and hip-hop (urban) fanatics in Norwegian suburbs, where most youths listen to Europop and US rock. Their interest in music started in the 1980s with breakdance and rap. Eriksen and Hermansen were raised on pop music, growing up listening to music of 1970s pop group ABBA (both were Scandinavian) and Germany-based pop outfit Boney M. In an article by The New York Times, Barry Weiss, president of Jive Records, who had hired Stargate to produce songs, "Those influences lend themselves to them making very melodic pop records, with great hooks and choruses." According to the team, they have always loved US music, citing acts such as Prince, Michael Jackson, Usher, Destiny's Child, and R. Kelly and the British band Depeche Mode as their inspiration. The team also cited producers Antonio "L.A." Reid and Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds of the 1980s R&B band The Deele, and R&B-pop production team Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis as their early influences.
In their usual production style, Stargate first creates an instrumental backing track—also common in pop and hip hop productions—from which a collaborator would write lyrics and add vocal melody into. In an interview with About.com, the team stated their style:
We always start out with a musical idea. Great effort goes into creating a solid melodic core. We both play the keyboards and program, but in general Mikkel plays the instruments and controls Pro Tools, while Tor has the executive overlook as well as lyrical input. However, we both are hands on and have no rules or limitations. When we have some killer beats and musical starting points, we hook up with one of our favorite topline writers, who gets cracking on the lyrics and melody. We make sure there's a lot of melody in the track, so it can inspire the writer. Together with the topline writer we work, often tweak and simplify the song, and never quit before we feel we've got a killer hook.
Ben Sisario of The New York Times described Stargate's music as "sugary, lilting R&B in the Michael Jackson vein leavened with the kind of melody-rich European pop that paints everything in bright primary colors ... Their work carries on a tradition of Scandinavian bubble-gum artistry that stretches from Abba to Max Martin". Sisario added that, unlike other's producers in the US, "Stargate signature is more difficult to detect, because to some degree the duo's style is an adaptable method, not a specific sound". Steve Lunt, an A&R executive at Atlantic Records, pointed out, however, that "if you put a bunch of Stargate songs together you will see the thread running through them".
Critics found some of Stargate's succeeding works a replica of Irreplaceable's musical formula. Sheffield commented that, in the song "Tattoo" by Jordin Sparks, the team "have no shame about churning out 'Irreplaceable' replicants forever", reprising the acoustic guitar-drum loop formula. The New York Times music critic Kelefa Sanneh deemed it "sounds like a cousin" of "Irreplaceable". The release of R&B singer Chris Brown's 2007 single "With You" produced similar impressions: Sheffield, in his review for Brown's album, noted that "Stargate was just trying to roll out 'Irreplaceable' one more time". Hillary Crosley of Billboard magazine wrote that "With You" "leans a bit too heavily" toward "Irreplaceable". Stylus Magazine also noted that Rihanna's Stargate produced single, "Hate That I Love You" was a rehash of Ne-Yo and Stargate's previous works saying, "Here you've got the 'Sexy Love' drums, the 'Irreplaceable' strum, and a bit of the synth and chorus melody from 'So Sick'... is hardly the new twist all these old bits need to sound fresh."
As lead artist
|Title||Year||Peak chart positions||Certifications||Album|
|"Easier Said Than Done"||2002||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—||—|
(featuring Pink and Sia)
(featuring PartyNextDoor, 21 Savage and Murda Beatz)
|"Folk er fake"
(featuring OnklP & Unge Ferrari)
|"Be Right Here"
(with Kungs featuring Goldn)
|"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.|
As featured artist
|"Carry You Home"
(Tiësto featuring Stargate & Aloe Blacc)
|2017||Club Life, Vol. 5 - China|
(Stargate featuring Nelson Mandela)
|2018||Global Citizen – EP 1|
(by Los Unidades)
(Stargate and Los Unidades
featuring Tiwa Savage, WizKid, Danny Ocean and David Guetta)
Grammy Awards nominations
|Year||Nominee / work||Award||Result||Ref.|
|2008||"Irreplaceable"||Record of the Year||Nominated|||
|"Don't Stop the Music"||Best Dance/Electronic Recording||Nominated|
|2009||Year of the Gentleman||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2010||I Am... Sasha Fierce||Nominated|
|"Only Girl (In the World)"||Best Dance/Electronic Recording||Won|
- "Waterfall" did not enter the New Zealand Singles Chart, but reached number one on the New Zealand Heatseekers Singles chart.
- Category:Stargate (record producers) songs
- Category:Song recordings produced by Stargate (record producers)
- "Rolling Stone Declares "EDM" Producers of the Moment – Elektro". Elektro Daily. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "Stargate". Rolling Stone. 27 December 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "World's Best Video – 2013 Nominees". World Music Awards. Archived from the original on 10 February 2008. Retrieved 15 March 2013.
- Sisario, Ben (6 May 2007). "Wizards in the Studio, Anonymous on the Street". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- Myklebust, Anne (6 May 2008). "Stargate to Fame". Norway.org. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Mitchell, Gail (30 October 2006). "Norwegian production duo breaks big in U.S." Billboard/Reuters. Yahoo!. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- "Rustan Hallgeir". MyHitOnline. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- "All the No. 1's". Official Charts Company. Archived from the original on 5 February 2008. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Christman, Ed (16 September 2008). "Stargate United At EMI". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Cragg, Michael (30 July 2008). "How Europe is conquering American pop". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- "Artist Chart History – Mikaila". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 5 January 2009.
- Kaufman, Gil (5 February 2008). "Beyonce's 'Irreplaceable' Could Have Gone Country: Behind The Grammys". MTV. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- "Mary J. Blige the queen of R&B charts in 2006". Billboard. Yahoo!. 25 December 2006. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- "Stargate's Tor Hermansen and Mikkel Eriksen receive songwriter of the year honours at 27th annual ASCAP awards in London". EMI. 7 October 2007. Retrieved 24 January 2013.
- Cardew, Ben (11 October 2007). "Stargate honoured at Ascaps". Music Week. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "Amanda Ghost". BBC. 17 March 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "2008 Ivor Novello awards: The winners". BBC. 22 May 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "Ivors nominees". BBC. 21 April 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "ASCAP Celebrates 25 Years of Honoring Pop Music's Top Music Creators". ASCAP. 9 April 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- Cardew, Ben (10 April 2008). "EMI Publishing triumphs at Ascaps". Music Week. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- Hiatt, Brian (2008). "Best Hitmakers: Stargate". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 20 April 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "50th annual Grammy Awards nominations". Variety. 6 December 2007. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "Artist Chart History – Ne-Yo". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- "The 51st Annual Grammy Awards Nominations List". The Recording Academy. 2008. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- MTV News Staff (8 February 2009). "Grammy 2009 Winners List". MTV. Retrieved 18 February 2009.
- Toshitaka Kondo (4 February 2011). "Interview: Stargate Talks Producing Wiz Khalifa's "Black And Yellow" And "Roll Up"". Complex Media.
- Mariel Concepcion (4 August 2010). "Sean Kingston and Nicki Minaj 'Let Go' In New Video". Billboard.
- JIM FARBER (26 September 2012). "Rihanna debuts new single 'Diamonds'". New York Daily News.
- "Owl City Announces EP With Guest Vocals By Blink182's Mark Hoppus". Screen Invasion. 11 May 2012.
- "Ylvis Super-Producer Admits 'The Fox' Is Unintentional EDM Parody". 18 October 2013.
- Sisario, Ben (19 September 2008). "Jay-Z Starts New Label". The New York Times. Retrieved 27 December 2008.
- Lamb, Bill. "10 Questions With Stargate". About.com. Retrieved 6 January 2009.
- Sullivan, Caroline (24 February 2011). "Alexis Jordan: Alexis Jordan – review" – via The Guardian.
- "Star Roc Records (@starrocrecords) • Instagram photos and videos".
- "StarRoc Records (@StarRocRecords) – Twitter".
- Williams, Paul (15 September 2008). "Stargate songwriting team re-united at EMI Publishing". Music Week. Retrieved 28 December 2008.
- "StarGate, creator of 'Black and Yellow,' to open L.A. school - Los Angeles Times". Los Angeles Times. 25 June 2021.
- "Music Industry Moves: SoundExchange Elevates Tim Dadson to General Counsel". 10 September 2021.
- "Adresseavisen – Mikkel er et geni". adressa.no. 13 October 2011. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- "Dagbladet – Å starte restaurant gjøres med hjertet, ikke med hodet". Kjendis. Archived from the original on 2 May 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2014.
- Sheffield, Rob (2007). "Jordin Sparks: Jordin Sparks". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 17 November 2007. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Sanneh, Kelefa (26 November 2007). "Critics's Choice: 'Jordin Sparks'". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Sheffield, Rob (2007). "Chris Brown: Exclusive". Rolling Stone. Archived from the original on 28 December 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Crosley, Hillary (10 November 2007). "Exclusive". Billboard. Archived from the original on 21 June 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2009.
- Shipley, Al (29 August 2007). "Rihanna ft. Ne-Yo – Hate That I Love You". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
- Peak positions on Norway VG-lista chart:
- For "Waterfall": "Stargate feat. P!nk & Sia – Waterfall" (in Norwegian). norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- Peak positions on Canadian Hot 100:
- Peak positions on French Singles Chart:
- For "Waterfall": "Le Top de la Semaine : Top Singles Téléchargés – SNEP". Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- Peak positions on German Singles Chart:
- For "Waterfall": "Offizielle Deutsche Charts – Stargate feat. P!nk & Sia – Waterfall" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- "NZ Heatseekers Singles Chart". Recorded Music NZ. 20 March 2017. Retrieved 28 March 2017.
- "1Night (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR, 21 Savage & Murda Beatz) – Single by Stargate". iTunes Store (AU). 27 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
- "Stargate". The Recording Academy. Retrieved 7 January 2023.