As a former "American Idol" judge, singer, songwriter and producer, Kara DioGuardi, made her mark offering no-nonsense feedback to contestants hoping for stardom on the popular singing talent contest.
Now she returns as a judge on Bravo's new show "Platinum Hit", which debuts on May 30. The series offers a glimpse into the world of emerging singer-songwriters on their journey to become the next big hit maker and offers a $100,000 cash prize and a record publishing deal.
DioGuardi spoke to Reuters about the show, songwriting and a famous 2009 bikini stunt on national television.
Q: What can viewers expect when tuning into "Platinum Hit?"
A: "The show is completely different since it's not about performing. It's about the song. And it's about the people that write that song. This is a show about finding the next great songwriting talent and looking into the process of songwriting, which I think is going to be very interesting."
Q: When you were on 'American Idol' there was a lot of chatter about you. Were you surprised at the fan's reaction to you joining the show?
A: "Not really, because I think they didn't quite understand my role. Some thought I was there to take over Paula's role and they didn't understand that I was in the music business. When I first got the job, I said, 'Why do you need a fourth judge?' It was completely puzzling to me. I can only imagine what it was like for the American people."
Q: Do you prefer collaborating with other songwriters or writing solo?
A: "I really don't have a preference. I kind of love it all. I get something different from each session I walk into. Sometimes it's great to work with an artist that has a very specific vision. I really enjoyed working with Pink, when I co-wrote 'Sober.' She has a real idea about what she wants to say and how she wants to say it and I find that very refreshing."
Q: How do you strike the right balance of offering feedback to contestants without crushing their dreams?
A: "People have to get used the idea that there is a lot of rejection in the music business no matter how successful you are ... If that's what crushes your dream, then you should get out of the music business, because if you can't stand the rejection, this industry will crush you. What it's really about is how to take the feedback and learn from it and become better."
Q: How would you characterize yourself as a judge?
A: "I'm pretty tough on this show, but I'm always constructive. You may not see it always because it doesn't get into the edit. But if I am giving a critique to a contestant, I'm telling them how they can do it better, so they can learn from it."
Q: What advice do you have for those just starting out?
A: "It's a muscle, songwriting. You got to do it a lot. You have to constantly be working it out and always come from a place of truth."
Q: If you were not a singer/songwriter, what do you think you would be doing?
A: "I would be a lawyer, or run a Bed and Breakfast. I would like to be in Maine baking muffins."
Q: You stripped down to a bikini during the "American Idol" finale in 2009. What was that like?
A: "It was scary, but it showed that I kind of don't take myself so seriously. And I got to build a recording studio from it, because I was given money to use toward my charity. So I'm glad I did it."