“She has a level of transparency and reality in her music,” the duo’s Michael “Mikey” Foster says of the pop superstar.
Before March of this year, Social House were producing songs for artists like Ariana Grande, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Brown. Now, they have a top 10 hit as artists on the Billboard Hot 100 chart — as they prepare to jet across the world to open for Grande on the European leg of the pop star's Sweetener Tour.
A week after the duo — Michael "Mikey" Foster and Charles "Scootie" Anderson — released "Boyfriend" with Grande on Aug. 2, Social House released their own EP, appropriately titled Everything Changed…, and watched "Boyfriend" bow at No. 8 on the Hot 100. Though the EP's title references the romantic narrative that its six songs (including "Boyfriend") detail, both Anderson and Foster recognize how perfectly it fits into this professional moment. "We made [the EP] so that people connect with it in their own way," Foster says. "I'm excited to see how people respond and if people believe it’s about them, or think that we’re peeking into their lives and reading their text messages. Like, 'How did he know my life right now?'" He adds with a laugh, "I want people to say stuff like that."
As the Social House guys prep for the next leg of the Sweetener Tour, Billboard caught up with Foster and Anderson to talk "Boyfriend," Grande's impact on their career, and helping her find comfort following a tumultuous year in her life.
What do you think is special about how you two work together?
Anderson: Our chemistry is pretty crazy. We’ve worked together [for] so long, writing and producing for other people, it kind of just naturally molded together. I feel like it’s really easy for us to get to the bottom of how we’re feeling and put it into a song.
Foster: After working four or five years, 18-hour days with somebody, you start to learn them a little bit [laughs]. At the end of the day, I know Scootie’s gonna have some slaps. He trusts me in the same way.
You started working with Ariana in 2015. What made you click so instantly with her?
Anderson: We pretty much started out as friends first. We were just getting comfortable with each other, and it translated into this amazing dynamic that we have where we’re just cool as fuck.
Foster: When we were first hanging out, she was talking about how she wanted to help her friends. She really wanted to get her friends to do videos for her, her other friend to do her marketing. It was cool because she became so human at that point, and it wasn’t about making a bunch of money on music. It was about really empowering the people around her. That was a common thread we have, because we’re all about our friends and helping the people around us.
How has working with Ariana impacted the way you guys approach creating?
Foster: She has a level of transparency and reality in her music. She brings up her emotions so well, and she’s so descriptive about how she feels, it encouraged us in a lot of ways to be more open with who we are and what we think — as opposed to thinking about a general population and just trying to make something that everybody likes.
You've talked about how Ariana recruited you for "Boyfriend" in the middle of the tour in May. Why did you want to be part of the track when she asked you?
Foster: I wanted to be part of it because everybody I know is going through it. Like, "I got what I want, but I’m not ready to commit." I was like, “Yo, this is the most relatable song in the world.”
You worked with Ariana as co-writers on "Thank U, Next" and "7 Rings." How did the sessions for "Boyfriend" feel different than those?
Foster: Whenever we were doing “Thank U, Next," we were there for Ariana as a friend and really [wanted to] help her out with what was going on in her life. It wasn’t about music at that time — it was just about comforting someone who needed comforting. This was more relaxed. We were having fun in the studio, and there was no pressure to make anything good. There was no severe trauma that everybody was thinking about the whole time.
Now that you're not just behind the scenes on an Ariana track, what has it been like seeing the reaction to a song that also has your name on it?
Anderson: Definitely taken aback.
Foster: It’s really cool to see people enjoying something we were a part of in this way. We’ve never been on Billboard or hit a chart, so this is the most insane feeling and time. Everybody started following us and our engagement went crazy. I’ve seen so many memes of Scootie’s face [Laughs].
It’s really cool to see people interested in who we are, how we think and how we sing. Since we’ve made beats for so long, we didn’t really know how people would receive us because we were so used to being behind the scenes. It’s cool to see people receive us well.
Have you seen a big boost in social media followers?
Foster: My followers in the last four days have almost tripled. My engagement has gone up to like 35, 40 percent as opposed to like, 5 [Laughs].
Anderson: Even our other songs have been going crazy. Like, the “Haunt You” video spiked really crazy. I think it was maybe 50,000 views, and now it’s almost a million. [Editor's note: The video has more than 2.8 million views, as of Aug. 12.]
Foster: Even on Spotify, our song called “Higher,” which we didn’t even put any marketing behind, was at half a million plays and now it’s at 1.8 million. People are jumping in to find out we’re about. Ari’s fans are so loving, and welcoming, and engaging. There’s so many people in our DMs asking, “Hey, we love you guys. What are you going to do next?” Usually you would just expect it to be a moment and that was it, but the residual fans are really welcoming.
It’s weird to see Social House fan pages pop up, and Mikey and Scootie pages DM-ing us — we’re like, “What is this?” It’s weird seeing somebody say, “Hey I love your new song,” and it’s us as their profile picture. [Laughs]
I would think you've seen a spike in followers thanks to opening the Sweetener Tour as well. How have you been enjoying that experience been so far?
Foster: It took 17 shows for us to realize this is fun. We’re perfectionists, to the point where I was calling our managers every day — after every show I was asking them for immediate feedback. “What can we do to make it better?” We were so nervous just because we wanted it to be good and worth it for the fans.
One day we’re in our hotel room, and Scootie looks at his phone and looks at me, like, “Mike, do you see this? This is us. This is what we’ve always wanted our whole life. Look at this.” It was just this surreal moment where we took a load off and enjoyed it like, “I can’t believe this is reality.” After that, Scootie was like, “Bro, this is supposed to be fun. Remember that.”
In between the North American and European legs, you guys debuted "Boyfriend" at Lollapalooza. Did that feel different from the Sweetener Tour shows?
Anderson: Lollapalooza is literally the most people I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. I couldn’t see where the hands stopped.
Foster: That was honestly the most insane thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t describe how shocking it was when we were introduced on stage and we looked out. It was like everything changed.
Like the name of your EP!
Anderson: It fits all of our situations because everything is constantly changing and it’s kind of crazy how everything is just developing right in front of our eyes. It’s just wild.
Foster: Our last show before tour was in Minnesota, and there was literally like, 20 people there. And then the first show of the [Sweetener] tour, there were like 15,000 people there. And then a couple months later we’re at Lollapalooza and it’s a sea of people that actually doesn’t end.
And now you have a European trek coming up. Everything Changed really is coming true for you guys, huh?
Anderson: This will be our first time outside of the U.S. besides Canada. We’re going to Europe. That’s insane to me. My parents never really got to travel a lot. They get to travel through me. I’m happy I get to share my experiences with them.
Foster: My mother lived in a very dangerous part of the city that I grew up in, one of the most dangerous cities in the country. I was able to move her last week into a new home in a very nice part of the city. She was crying, and the first thing that she said was, “I’m so grateful that I don’t have to hear gunshots every night and have to worry about my safety.” That’s the craziest thing in the world, and music was able to offer that to me. I’m going to be in Europe dancing, because I don’t have to worry about anything. The rest of this year is icing on the cake.