If you look closely at the credit roll as Jon Batiste took the Album of the Year award at last Sunday’s Grammys, you may recognize a Port Moody name.
David Pimentel, who also goes by “Pomo,” is listed as one of the many contributors to WE ARE, an an album that the Port Moody native helped to produce.
A Heritage Woods Secondary graduate, Pimentel started working with Batiste on the recommendation of Anderson .Paak and Mac Miller, who had recorded with Pimentel and, in 2016, had performed on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert — a television program of which Batiste is its musical director.
Batiste was particularly fond of the sound on the song “Dang!” from Miller’s new album The Divine Feminine that the pair had played on the show, and they pointed the band leader Pimentel’s way.
“Jon said he liked it and asked who produced it,” Pimentel said. “I was pleased they gave him my name.”
For their first meeting in 2019, Pimentel and Batiste got together in a Los Angeles studio to listen to some demos. Pimentel told the Tri-City News that there were “a lot of starting-point ideas” for songs and sounds to be shaped.
Later, they continued their craft in New Orleans, Batiste’s hometown, to lay down some music with the Hot 8 Brass Band for the tune “Adulthood,” as well as with the St. Augustine High School Marching 100 band — a nod to Batiste’s alma mater — for the title track “We Are.”
From there, they wrapped up Batiste’s eighth studio album at the Electric Lady Studios in New York City. In March 2021, the jazz/R&B project was finally released via Verve Records, with Pimentel named as a producer, drummer and recording artist.
Earlier this year, WE ARE gained eight nominations at the 64th annual Grammys; in the Album of the Year category, Batiste was up against
- Love For Sale by Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga
- Justice by Justin Bieber
- Planet Her by Doja Cat
- Happier Than Ever by Billie Eilish
- Back of My Mind by H.E.R.
- Montero by Lil Nas X
- Sour by Olivia Rodrigo
- Evermore by Taylor Swift
- Donda by Kanye West
For the ceremony on April 3, held in Las Vegas, Pimentel wasn’t in the room; however, he told the Tri-City News that was pleased when Batiste got the honour.
“He’s unbelievably talented,” Pimentel said. “He’s one of the best pianists out there.”
Still, Pimentel won’t get his own Grammy trophy as he didn’t produce more than 50 per cent of the album. Rather, he’ll be presented with a certificate of acknowledgement.
“It’s cool,” he said. “It’s a good résumé thing. But, for me, I don’t care that much about awards. I just want to make good music.”
It’s not his first international accolade.
Pimentel got credit when Paak won his 2020 Grammy for Best R&B Album for Ventura; Pimentel co-wrote and produced the tracks "Reachin' 2 Much,” "Good Heels" and "Jet Black.”
And, in 2016, he took the Juno Award for Electronic Album of the Year, The Other Day.
Now based in Vancouver, Pimentel said he’s alternating between The Warehouse Studio and Greenhouse Studios to cut solo songs for an upcoming EP, as well as producing for Free Nationals, an American R&B band.
Pimentel, 32, said his love for music collaboration began as a Grade 7 student at Maple Creek Middle School in Port Coquitlam. A fellow classmate, a drummer, invited him to jam and “it was a crazy experience,” he recalled. “We hugged afterward.”
A classical music student who took exams through the Royal Conservatory of Music, Pimentel later joined bands then, after graduation at Heritage Woods Secondary in Port Moody, he studied TV broadcasting for a year at BCIT before settling into the audio engineering program at Nimbus School of Recording & Media in Vancouver.
While living in Montreal, a friend suggested he take on the alias “Pomo” in honour of his hometown and “it just stuck,” Pimentel said.
A pianist, drummer, guitarist and bassist, Pimentel said he got more into producing by coming up with musical hooks and pitching them to bands.
As a producer, “I try to create an environment that makes it easy for people to make a good song,” he said. “It has to be inspirational so that they’re willing to try anything. I’ll get some instruments out and create a space where there’s some cool sounds going on.”
He added, “At the start, I’ll try to listen for what their strengths are and push them with another genre. Whatever feels like it’s working, I’ll help them to get to that direction.”
And what makes a good song? he’s asked. “Something that’s personal, unique and honest. It has to come from yourself; you’re not chasing something. It has to have a good melody and a good groove.”