Social House on Turning Pain Into Pop Art
Social House, the pop duo behind “Boyfriend” featuring Ariana Grande, use their painful experiences to create uplifting pop music.
Social House, made up of Mikey Foster and Scootie Anderson, are a musical duo who first made their footprint in the music industry by writing and producing for stars like Jennifer Lopez, Meghan Trainor, NCT 127, and Ariana Grande — for whom they co-wrote several songs on her platinum album Thank U, Next.
Their move into the artist/performer sphere coincided with Grande’s “Sweetener” world tour and she brought Social House on as her openers, where they performed their own songs like “Music in the Hamptons” and their newest single, “Boyfriend” — featuring Grande.
Even prior to their rise to stardom, Foster and Anderson have had a long history of seeking connection through music.
When they finally met, two isolated, creative spirits forged an unbreakable connection by expressing their pain through their art.
First, they had to fight their way out alone
Mikey credits music with saving his life
Mikey Anderson’s family was very poor growing. He recalls having to choose between utilities such as gas, electricity, and water. Everything changed when a member of his church saw his talented and gifted him a computer to make music.
A whole new world was opened to him: “I had something to do. I had something that somebody had given to me and that was like a goal that I could have. Literally that inspired me to spend all my time and actually build a dream. Somebody else believed in this dream so now I can actually believe in it too. It was like that was validation I needed.”
Raised in a violent environment by parents who struggled with drug addictions, Mikey found a positive outlet in the music he was creating.
“Music was the way I cried, it was the way I lived,” he recalls. “I didn’t know how to express myself other ways.”
On winter nights when the heat was off, Mikey would head into that mouldy basement room and find sanctuary in his music. “The ability to cry in a productive way, and the ability to put forth that energy towards good and meaningful that could actually grow the world.”
The strength he gained from the songs he made empowered him to do anything — even to risk everything and move out to LA to follow his dreams.
Scootie grew up idolizing his sister, a gifted singer in her own right
An overachiever in school, Scootie Anderson was shy and struggled to connect with the people around him. He was an athlete, a student, and a performer in musical theater, but couldn’t reach out on a personal level.
Feeling isolated and left out when his sister ran away, Scootie turned to music for a sense of belonging. The only problem was: he only had one CD, and it was an anti-drug school-sponsored album.
Still, it gave him a feeling of support and connection he couldn’t find elsewhere in his life. “It was therapeutic because somebody was talking to me,” he shared.
Scootie has brought this learning to his writing and producing work. Grande, in particular, has opened up about therapeutic effect that recording Thank U, Next had for her. She told Vogue the album “was this moment of self-realization. It was this scary moment of ‘Wow, you have to face all this stuff now. No more distractions. You have to heal all this shit.’”
“Experiences connect us all”
As producers, Social House see it as their gift to help artists channel their pain and experiences into music: “No one can really tell a story better than the person going through it.”
When they were introduced to Grande, Mikey confesses he didn’t know who she was right away: “She was knitting a scarf on the floor in the garage and she just seemed extra cool.”
Who she was didn’t matter — what mattered was what she had been through in the last couple yers. Social House were able to help her channel those experiences into songs like “7 Rings”, “Thank U, Next”, “NASA”, and “Goodnight n Go”.
Making something beautiful and uplifting out of a painful lived experience is pop music at its purest level.
“The overwhelming amount of painful scenarios you go through helps you really help you connect with other people,” says Mikey. “I think that things that happen in your life, they happen for you, not to you. It’s really important to realize that because you could think life is here to crush you or you could think life is here to build you and make you stronger and make you more capable.”
In their own music, they clearly live this ethos: “We put our experiences into songs because, just like we said, experiences connect us all. Everybody has gone through that one thing where it made them feel this type of way. It’s like: we’re with you. We feel you.”
Whatever form your self-expression takes, Social House are a reminder that channeling the painful and difficult things you have been through into something positive won’t just help you — it also helps others.
“That’s what music is, entirely, right?” Mikey explains. “Just connection. Just telling somebody that it’s going to be okay, in your own way.”