How a Piano-Trained ‘Valley Boy’ Became a Behind-the-Scenes Pop Music Juggernaut

Grammy-nominated producer and songwriter Rogét Chahayed was an aspiring concert pianist until he started making beats. Now he works with everyone from Drake to Doja Cat

Unless you’re the sort of person who obsessively reads song credits, you might not recognize Rogét Chahayed by name. For the past few years, though, you’ve been hearing his work across the pop spectrum.

Since working with DRAM on the Grammy-nominated 2016 hit “Broccoli,” the self-proclaimed “Valley boy” has worked with a slew of pop’s brightest stars: Travis Scott, Halsey, Drake, and Kali Uchis among them. He collaborated with Doja Cat for two songs on Planet Her, including the hit “Kiss Me More.” Chahayed also contributed to two cuts from Marvel’s recently released soundtrack for Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, “Lazy Susan” by 21 Savage and Rich Brian and “Fire in the Sky” from Anderson .Paak.

For Chahayed, who grew up in West Hills and now lives in Tarzana, his musical journey began when his dad brought home a piano and signed him and his sister up for piano lessons. At the time, Chahayed was seven.

“I wasn’t really that interested in it,” Chahayed recalls. But, his muscle memory was good and he was able to learn pieces quickly after watching his piano teacher play. As a young teenager, he became more interested in music theory, jazz, and playing in bands while learning to play harder pieces. “It took a while,” says Chahayed, “but I started really loving it towards the end of high school.”

By that time, Chahayed had ambitions of becoming a concert pianist and headed to the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 2006. His plans changed when, during school breaks, he and his friends began making beats.

“I would say that the one thing that really changed it for me was when I found out who Scott Storch was,” says Chahayed. Storch began his career as keyboardist for the Roots and went on to produce hits like “Baby Boy” for Beyonce and “Lean Back” for Fat Joe in the early ‘00s. Chahayed started to think that maybe he could do something similar.

His first big studio gig came in 2014, when Chahayed started to work on call for Dr. Dre. It was an opportunity that left him both nervous and excited. “It was something I dreamt about for a while and it was manifesting,” he says. “When I finally got the opportunity, part of me felt like I wasn’t as ready as I could have been, but I think that’s always the case when something big happens in your life in general. Things kind of get thrown at you and it’s an opportunity to grow and learn.”

Two years later, he befriended DRAM, now known as Shelley FKA DRAM, which led to the recording of “Broccoli.” The song went on to earn a Grammy nomination for “Best Rap/Sung Collaboration.”

“I think when that happened, it sort of became a little bit easier, people started calling me, calling my manager,” says Chahayed.

Chahayed also met Doja Cat back in 2016 through his friend and fellow producer Yeti Beats. “She’s one of the most talented and incredible artists that I’ve worked with, such a unique sound and energy. She’s just phenomenal,” he says.

“Kiss Me More” began with a beat that he and Yeti made one day while hanging out in Chahayed’s old studio. “We ended up making this loop, this beat, that was a little bit slower but it has that same guitar that you hear in everything,” he recalls. “He brought the idea to her a little bit later that year and sped it up. When she heard it, she instantly had a song in mind about kissing and laid it down and it happened like that.”

Upon first hearing the song, Chahayed had a feeling that it would be a hit. “Every time I kept listening to it, I kept thinking, this song is going to be huge. It’s going to be big. It just feels so good,” he says. “It was perfect timing too because it was slated to come out around springtime and this was going to be perfect for the summertime, especially, since it’s the year after COVID and it’s been a tough year. I feel like it brought a life back into music in general and everybody.”

It’s his background in piano that’s helped Chahayed become a songwriter and producer who can expertly shift between music styles. “I would say that studying piano and theory and technique has given me the ability to move however I want to when I’m in the studio and especially helps stylistically. With that technical ability, I’m able to capture any genre or style,” he says. “It’s almost like knowing different languages, musically.”

Chahayed estimates that he spends about 85 percent of his time in recording studios. When he’s off the clock, though, he likes to spend time with his family or go hiking. (Solstice Canyon in Malibu and Top of Reseda in Tarzana are two spots he recommends.) Even when he’s chilling out, though, Chahayed says he’s still thinking about music.

“There’s probably melodies playing in my head or I’m thinking about what I just made,” he says. “I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way.”

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