Apr 18, 2021

Ben Rice Talks 'Chromatica' and Getting Ready for Next Lady Gaga Project


Ben Rice, the music producer, friend, and longtime Lady Gaga collaborator has been interviewed by Texarkana Gazette to discuss his involvement behind Lady Gaga's 6th studio album 'Chromatica,' the single 'Rain On Me' with Ariana Grande. Read the full interview below! 

A dance song with depth, that is how Texarkana native Benjamin Rice describes "Rain on Me," the Grammy Award-winning duet featuring Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande.

Rice, a Texarkana native and music producer who has built a long-standing relationship with Gaga and nabbed a Grammy himself for his work with her on the "A Star is Born" soundtrack, also happened to serve as vocal producer, recording engineer and a mixer for this song that features two iconic pop superstars.

The upbeat number about getting through troubled times landed its singers a Grammy win this year for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance. Released last May, the critically acclaimed dance hit is on Gaga's "Chromatica" album, for which Rice also did production and technical work.

"I have worked with Gaga for many years now. I had not worked with Ari before that song," Rice said. It was kind of a first for all of them to work together, which made the experience exciting for him."That song is a really special song. We all loved working on it. We worked on it for a very long time," Rice said, noting they'd discussed doing a duet with someone and had much of the song somewhat finished by the time Grande was brought in.

Keeping this project tight and secure without sharing files, Rice said, they brought Grande to the studio to play the song for her. "In the studio, we would play it for her, and if she still felt excited and inclined to do so we'd love to have her on the song," Rice said about the duet development.

Why Ariana?

"The part that was written for a girl to sing, it just felt very much like it would be the best fit if Ari was able to pull it off. In a perfect scenario, having Gaga and Ariana on the same song would be a pretty amazing thing if we could pull it off, so hats off to the team that was able to pull that off," Rice said.

He said it was fun having Grande come to the studio because it was pre-COVID and not everyone had met each other, but it was a positive feeling from the outset. "It was a very warm, hugging environment," he said, adding, "We played it for her and she was so excited and she got emotional about it, just super-hyped up."

Rice's memory is that recording her happened quickly when facilitating the session. "We got after it, so Gaga sat next to me and gave her some direction. It was fun to see the two collaborate and try to make it their own record," he said.

As to the resulting song, he said, "I think it's Gaga talking about kind of putting her personal experiences and trying to make it an empowering dance song." The album itself is a dance album with Gaga being intimate and personal, putting herself courageously into the songs, he says.

"But trying to make it still very uplifting and empowering to people, which I think is a really cool medium in dance to try and actually say something so there's a lot more substance to it than just surface, fun stuff," Rice said. "There's some real messages there that can be very uplifting. It's such a high-energy format."

He's seen how that ability reaches Gaga's fans. While he's worked with Gaga for years, it was only a couple years ago that he got to see her on tour and get a personal look at the effect she has on them, "Having been on tour with her and for the first time getting to kind of just be in the audience amongst the thousands of her fans night after night kind of seeing her do her thing, it really impacted me," Rice said.

He's been a fan and felt fortunate to work with her, but to be in the audience showed him something new. It was special. "I think 'Rain on Me' for me goes down as one of those best moments, best songs. It hits every nail on the head," Rice said. "It's so catchy, it's so fun to listen to, it's just a good vibe, and the message is so powerful."

Having Grande and Gaga do this together with the complementary nature of their voices and with what they stand for made it special, something people hadn't heard before, he said."She makes an audience of 10,000-plus people feel very small, feel very personal," Rice said, noting that his work with Gaga on "A Star is Born" is one of the most meaningful projects of his life.

"If I never do anything else, then I'm very proud of that work and what it meant to me and the experience that it gave me," Rice said. But it felt good to pick up where they left off and do something entirely different with "Chromatica," he said.

They went from music for a movie to a dance record.

"Of all the things I love about working with Gaga, one of them is we spend lots of time. There's no stone unturned by the time we're finished with everything," Rice said. She keeps them working until it sounds the way she wants it to sound and makes people feel the way she wants them to feel and more. He said many of the early demos were heartbreaking piano demos.

To have a front-row seat for it all, he feels the importance of the role. "That's a very inspiring feeling," Rice said.

In addition to Lady Gaga, Rice has been working with top company, such as Selena Gomez, Julia Michaels, JP Saxe, Lukas Nelson, Nick Jonas. Saxe is a newer artist, and he's worked with Michaels for a few years.

He's worked vocal production remotely and also done more writing and producing himself. "And also just gearing up for the next Gaga project," Rice said. If he's not working on such projects, he's at home with his kids and his wife, just like other folks.

"I have a studio at my house that I can work out of, so I do some work remotely on Zoom with people," Rice said. He's also been able to see his sister, Stephanie Rice, work on music and do scientific research related to COVID-19.

"I'm just immensely proud of her and she's so talented, and it's so amazing that she's so talented in two completely different worlds, right? So talented with music but also she's a scientist. I'm just very proud of her," he said. And with Gaga, he felt gratified to go into a new project for her and switch gears, to make something that Gaga could be proud of for her fans, he said.

"She kept talking about how people just really need something positive, people really need something that they can, for lack of a better term, dance to," Rice said. "I think she also needed to get those things out."

He's not alone in his praise for "Rain on Me." In addition to the Grammy nod, the single landed on a bevy of year-end "Best Songs of 2020" lists.