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Superproducer Max Martin reveals the songwriting trick he learned from Prince in a rare interview

Max Martin: He's the guy who isn't wearing shades and isn't Justin Timberlake

Max Martin: He's the guy who isn't wearing shades and isn't Justin Timberlake Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

It’s the celebrity-journalism equivalent of capturing Bigfoot: The Swedish publication Di Weekend sat down with press-averse pop mastermind Max Martin recently for a mammoth feature story.

Martin has dominated pop radio for two decades now, from his work with late ‘90s superstars like Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears to more recent hits for Taylor Swift and Adele. Whenever his next song tops the Billboard charts – and it’s only a matter of time – it will be his 23rd number one hit as a producer, tying a record that’s currently held by another Martin: a fellow named George who used to work with the Beatles.

But old Max has consistently turned down interviews since 2001, and in his silence-breaking chat he claims he learned the habit from a guy we talk about a lot on this here website.

“I thought it was so cool that all you knew about Prince was about his artistry and music,” Martin told Di Weekend, explaining that he and his collaborators dug into the Minneapolis maestro’s songbook to learn what they could about what made his music tick. “We took Prince-fandom to the extreme,” Martin says, highlighting one songwriting technique in particular.

“Take ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ with Prince,” he says. “The verse and chorus of that song are exactly the same. But as a listener, you don’t really notice since the energy of the chorus is completely different compared to the verse. Once the chorus comes, you feel like you’ve heard it before. And you have! You’ve heard it in the verse. It automatically creates a sense of familiarity. Prince does this a lot. ‘Let’s Go Crazy,’ same thing.”

Pretty sneaky, Prince.

You don't often get to peek behind the curtain to see how the most successful record-maker of the 21st century goes about his business. Pretty essential stuff. Here's that link again.