From the very beginning it was evident that music would be in Toby Gad’s blood. He was born in Munich, Germany in 1968, the son of two established musicians and members of “The Jazz Kids”. His Danish father, Christian Gad, was a clarinetist and aircraft test pilot by profession while his mother, Gaby Gad, was a piano player and aspiring psycho-therapist.
At the age of four Toby was expected to take up the banjo and become a member of his parents’ band. However he instead took to his mother’s piano, and soon formed his own band with his older brother Jens Gad at just seven years old. They went by the “Gad Rollers”, and played original rock’n’roll compositions during the intermissions for their parents’ performances.It wasn’t long before the duo gained some local momentum, and through radio and TV appearances were eventually discovered by Gunther Mende, the hit-producer behind Celine Dion’s “Power of Love”. Mende enthusiastically offered the brothers a record deal, but their parents refused, citing the boys’ education as a top priority.
Undeterred, the Gad brothers continued to form various bands and seize every opportunity to showcase their compositions on stage. At the age of 13, Toby and Jens could be found playing weekly gigs in various Munich bars, open-air summer festival concerts and shows in legendary live clubs such as “The Domicile”. It was this activity that caught the attention of Munich-based hit producer Tony Monn, who took a strong interest in the brothers’ careers and offered to let them use his state-of-the-art recording studio whenever he was out of town. Access to Monn’s world-class studio gave Toby and Jens the opportunity to spend endless days and nights writing and recording material that would become their first three record releases.
In 1986 Frank Farian, at the time Germany’s most successful producer (No Mercy, Boney M, Milli Vanilli), first came across Toby and Jens thanks to a referral from a mutual friend. Farian immediately flew the boys to Frankfurt, and just one week later the Gad brothers found three of their songs on Milli Vanilli’s debut album (which would later be certified multi-platinum). This was the beginning of an extremely successful seven-year collaboration with Frank.
Drawn to the young men’s potential as artists, Farian produced Toby and Jens’ first album, “Q”, which was followed by a live tour. Funk legend George Clinton liked the record so much that he spent a full day jamming with the brothers, and later invited Toby and Jens to perform two songs on stage with him and his P-funk band.
After a successful tour with his brother, Toby’s path crossed with the exotic Mauritian singer Jacqueline Nemorin in 1990. The duo immediately bonded, and Toby went on to co-produce Nemorin’s first album “The Creole Dance” with Farian for BMG. This was the first of many collaborations Toby and Jacqueline would undertake over the next 10 years.
In 1994 Toby’s team expanded yet again with the addition of manager Klaus Frers (Daydream Music Supervizing). After producing Nemorin’s second album for EMI Europe, Klaus’ guidance helped push the duo into music production for dozens of successful TV shows, commercials and movie soundtracks.During this time Toby and Jacqueline wrote and produced the title song for the film “Neverending Story III”, themes for multiple daily talk shows and the single “The Magic of the Fall”, which went on to win the BDA Gold Award in LA for best TV Trailer Concept.
After a long stint of successes in music for film and TV, Toby and Jacqueline chose to return their focus to records. Shortly thereafter in 1998 Toby was hired by Spanish producer Rafael Perez to work on Enrique Iglesias’ third album, “Cosas Del Amor”, which would later be certified RIAA Gold. That same year Toby also signed a deal with Joost Van Os (former head of Polygram) and Sony ATV, which would lead to songs on the albums of Ruth Jacott (Gold), Oli P (Gold), and Nino de Angelo (Top 30).
After this string of successes in his home country, Toby began to grow restless and anxious for an international breakthrough. Having spent a great deal of time in London with his mother and in US producing countless records, the options were plentiful but the decision was simple. In December of 2000 Toby packed his recording studio into a cargo container and set out for New York. Draw to its energy and excitement, Toby arrived in the Big Apple and immediately opened his “Strawberrybee Studios” in Midtown Manhattan, seeking out fresh collaborations with new artists, writers and contacts.
The first two years in New York proved to be a dire test of Toby’s perseverance. After writing over 200 songs with various US artists and writers only one of them was placed on a major record (“Unspoken” by Jacqui Velasquez). With his publishing deal expiring and two new #1 hits overseas the cards seemed stacked against his stay in America, but Toby refused to give up.
With his career seemingly in jeopardy, Toby spent months frantically taking meetings with major labels, publishers, and music law firms. As one meeting after the next ended with less than promising results, Toby’s options seemed fewer and further between.. until he met David Sonenberg. Manager for chart-shattering acts such as The Fugees, the Black Eyed Peas and Natasha Bedingfield, Sonenberg immediately sensed similar potential in Toby and offered to be his exclusive manager.
With the help of his newfound management, Toby achieved his first #1 US Single in 2006 with “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, a song he co-wrote with Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas. The song reached #1 and stayed there for an incredible 21 weeks, a record breaking stint that earned the song a Grammy nomination and ASCAP Song of the Year award on two separate occasions. The song would later go on to be the 13th most played song in the decade, and in the top 100 of all time.
Just one year later Toby found multi-platinum success yet again with the Australian rock duo The Veronicas. Toby co-wrote and produced 9 songs on their platinum release “Hook Me Up”, including the #1 single “Untouched”. Without a moment’s respite Toby continued to write and produce, and his dedication was rewarded yet again in 2008 with another #1 US Single, “If I Were a Boy”, recorded by Beyonce. The song shot to the top of the charts in over 10 countries and shortly thereafter went double platinum, resulting in Toby’s first Grammy Award win.
With Toby’s meteoric rise to notoriety also came a desire to expand his role in the music business. In 2009 he co-founded a record label, Kite Records, with his long-time managers David Sonenberg and William Derella. Their first signing, Jessica Jarrell, put out a debut record produced by Toby through Island Def Jam and immediately thereafter went on a 50 date US Tour with teenage heartthrob Justin Bieber. Kite Records would go on to sign the young Australian sensation Jordan Jansen, Santa Monica busker-turned-major label artist Chelsea Williams (Kite/Interscope) and New York-basedSusan Justice (Capitol/EMI).
In the midst of hit records and founding a label, Toby also managed to find time for a date with Li Fan, who lived in New York and served as a translator for foreign dignitaries in the United Nations. The two immediately bonded, and before long said their vows and were wed in the Big Apple. After some time spent in the city it became apparent that the music business and next chapter of their lives seemed to be in Los Angeles, so with careful consideration they relocated to California in summer of 2009.
With Strawberrybee Studios a remnant of his New York past, Toby set up a new studio in Los Angeles and dubbed it “Kite Music Productions”. Seated in the hills above city, this new studio would become the birthplace of many more records and home to a whole new set of artists and collaborators.
One of these new artists was Selena Gomez, with whom Toby recorded their hit “Year Without Rain”. The song was chosen as the lead single and title track for her record, which went Gold in the US and hit #1 on the Billboard Dance/Club charts. The hit with Selena was followed by a collaboration with the phenomenal Demi Lovato, whose heartfelt performance on Toby’s “Skyscraper” racked in yet another #1 single and multi-platinum certification. Additional LA-based collaborations have included Jessi J on her Platinum-certified record “Who You Are”, Kelly Clarkson on her Gold-certified record “Stronger”, Colbie Caillat’s hit single “I Do”, the UK smash “Love You More” with JLS, and Nicole Scherzinger’s #1 hit “Don’t Hold Your Breath” (see “News” for more recent projects).
In addition to a new era of success in the music business, the move to Los Angeles also presented itself as a new era of family. Shortly after first coming to LA, Li and Toby chose to adopt their first daughter, Melodie. In keeping with the Chinese proverb “Good things come in pairs”, they then had their second daughter, Mae Mae, a year later. To this day, when he isn’t working in sessions or at meetings with colleagues chances are good Toby is spending time with his family in their Studio City home.
With many more amazing projects and events on the horizon, there is no doubt that much of Toby’s biography has yet to be written. For now suffice it to say that the journey so far has been an amazing one, and he is thrilled for what lies ahead.