Hallyuism is immensely thankful to Mr. Appu Krishnan for giving us an opportunity to interview him again. In the previous interview, he answered many of our questions related to his journey in the music industry and about his contributions to K-Pop as a music producer, composer, and songwriter. Read below to know the latest updates on his much-awaited song and thoughts on his experiences as a musician.
Q. In your last interview with us, you gave us an insight into your musical journey and your experience related to your recent work on the song ‘Trust My Love’ from GOT7’s album Dye. Today, we want to ask more about the process behind your creative musical ventures. Can you tell us how was the process of arranging and composing this song different than any of your previous songs?
AK: Great to talk to you again 🙂 Usually my process is to have an almost completed instrumental with an artist or project in mind and then work with the topliners to finish the song. In some cases, after the publisher or label gets it, the song might end up going to another artist. That’s kind of my usual workflow. In this case, Keith Hetrick and I had prepared a few tracks for a songwriting camp, but as we were getting ready to leave, he played me a super rough idea. We were like “we gotta do this one properly sometime, but let’s just see what comes out in a half-hour because it’s so cool!” So we worked on it for a bit, almost running late, packed up, and went to Davey‘s studio. As we were playing all the other beats in the studio, somehow this unfinished one came out once again and everyone was like, we have to do this NOW 🙂 So as Davey was working on melodies, we finished the rest of the song as much as we could, recorded his demo vocals, and got it all done by end of the session! The flow was so natural. I do remember GOT7 coming into the conversation that day because I was mixing the Jus2 song the very same week. We even joked if GOT7 sang this one, and everyone exclaimed it would be super cool! Then a few months later, my publisher calls me and said GOT7 wants to do it! So, it was like this was all just meant to happen!
Q. As a composer, songwriter, and music producer, what aspects of composing a song are the most important for you? Also, which phase or part of song-making takes most of your time?
AK: As a writer, I think starting an idea is the most exciting time. When one of my co-writers or I come up with a particular melody, lyrics, or a part, a song gets its unique life. Usually, that happens really quick without us even thinking too hard. The hard part is then finishing the song by fleshing out the rest, making sure everything else is as great as that initial seed 🙂 That’s where we need to pull in all our experience and talents. As a producer, the best moment is to hear the artist deliver the song, giving all their emotions, and breathing life into it. What takes the most time really depends on the song. Usually, it is all the technical details, editing, mixing, etc that take the most time. But every step is equally important and nevertheless should be done properly. Another situation where we might lose time is hitting a roadblock during the fleshing out of ideas. But thankfully, I get to work with a lot of talented co-writers who would lend a hand if I am lost or the other way around.
Q. Can you tell us some of your most cherished memories of working as a part of the K-Pop music industry?
AK: My most recent pleasant surprise was learning about the Indian fans of K-Pop and connecting with them. I had no idea about how big K-Pop meant in India! Some other memories were bonding with my K-Pop producer friends over rock and even country music, which is really where my love for music originally started. This has led to a few piano cover jams in the studio 🙂 Before the COVID-19 lockdowns took place, we all used to go out to Koreatown, Los Angeles with our A&R and writer friends. Such nights are always a blast!
Q. As compared to your previous collaborations with Western as well as Korean artists, has your overall style or method of working changed as a musician?
AK: The biggest difference working in K-Pop is the online collaborations. Usually, I got to meet and work with many of the artists in the studio and shape the songs with them. But honestly, it has been working out great in the K-Pop music industry because of the hard work of our publishers and labels. They are so great with communication. Another big difference is that we work with English lyrics during the composition and later, it gets translated to Korean. Again, I have to say I was never disappointed due to our amazingly talented translation writers and of course the artist(s) delivering their 100% every time. So, I am really digging this new workflow. All that said, I am still very much looking forward to visiting Korea when we can travel again and work with more of my friends in person 🙂
Q. You gave us a hint previously about working with girl groups in the future. Would you tell us how is that collaboration going on so far? Do we expect a new release any time soon or it’s still in progress? Please share your experience.
AK: We have an amazing single out now with APRIL called ‘Now or Never’ from their album Hello Summer! I was so excited about this one and wrote it with my talented friends Mayu Wakisaka and Justakiid. It’s a fun summer song, and APRIL did an amazing job with the video too! There’s a few more in the works with other artists; can’t wait for them to come out 🙂
Q. What is your take on the view that K-Pop has gone global? Is it truly global at the moment, or there are still certain barriers associated with it?
AK: I feel that the success of K-Pop is a perfect example of music existing way beyond language and borders. It can communicate positively to people all over the world without any barriers. We all experience the same emotions, so I hope it will continue to grow every year.
Q. In continuation to the previous question, can you share with us what kind of hurdles you have experienced in your musical journey so far, and what are the struggles that you still face today?
AK: When I was starting out, just like any musician, the biggest struggle was to be recognised and to sustain myself doing what I love. So, I am really thankful to all the artists and clients who trusted me with their music and got me this far. I am also very grateful to my parents who supported my insane dream when I told them I wanted to go to LA and try out music after graduating college.
At this point, I feel most challenges are just healthy pressures. Like the pressure to make sure every song is as great as possible for our artists within the deadline 🙂 I really like to live by the David Foster quote that “Good is the enemy of Great“. Thankfully I am blessed with an amazing team of collaborators who help me every day. Over the past few years, I’ve also learned the value of learning things outside of music and taking breaks. It is still very hard to do because I feel guilty, but I am realising my brain is much clearer when I am not looking at a problem so close all the time 🙂
Q. On that note, what would you like to say to your Indian fans and artists who get inspiration from your journey and want to pursue their dreams?
AK: Many many thanks to the amazing fans in India! I am forever grateful for your love and support from home. Can’t wait to meet you all in person when travel bans are lifted.
The world is so much smaller now than when I had started my career. In those days, it was almost impossible to dream of working on an international project without YouTube, SoundCloud, or any social media 🙂 For anyone starting out now, it is such a big world of opportunities beyond borders now! So work as hard as you can to be the best version of yourself. Build a community of like-minded friends, grow together, and network as much as you can. The next stars could be you or right next to you! Also, study up on the business and financial side of the music business. We cannot focus on our art if it cannot sustain us. My best wishes to everyone!
Take a look at the song ‘Now or Never’ by APRIL, where Mr. Appu Krishnan helped in the composition and arrangement.