Benny Blanco is an absurdly successful writer-producer for pop stars: Britney Spears’ “Circus,” Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite,” Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream,” Maroon 5’s “Moves Like Jagger,” Ed Sheeran’s “Don’t” … the list goes on. When it comes to anticipating the whims of pop radio in the last decade, perhaps only Max Martin has a better track record.

Blanco’s stream of hits for other musicians has earned him plenty of famous friends but also allowed him to maintain a degree of anonymity. That may change withFriends Keep Secrets, a new seven-track collection released under his own name. It’s packed with guest stars — Rae Sremmurd’s Swae Lee, Ty Dolla $ign, Juice WRLD and more — who handle the singing, but Blanco is credited for the first time as the lead artist. His knack for hits remains intact: Lead single “Eastside,” with Khalid and Halsey, has north of 400 million Spotify streams, and it has climbed into the Top 10 at pop radio, where it reached over 40 million listeners last week. The follow-up “I Found You,” featuring Calvin Harris, also recently breached the Top 40 radio chart.

Rolling Stone spoke with Blanco about his decision to step into the spotlight and why he likes to finish everything at the last minute. These are excerpts from the conversation.